21 Aug 2012

Bye bye 3, Hello Orange

I recently moved to the Orange network after over 5 years with 3. When I first signed up with 3, they were the first to offer free Skype calls and they had among the cheapest rates in the UK - something that appealed to me as a student. They also had the most attractive deals for 24 month contracts. However, I got pissed off the last time I renewed my contract for 24 months when I discovered that new customers had better deals than loyal customers who had stuck with the network for 3 years. I still went ahead and got a new contract for 24 more months.

I started noticing that their network coverage was quite bad as compared to others. For example, I wa not able to get a signal at the hotel in Kendal in Cumbria when we recently went for a holiday to the Lake District. Even in certain parts of London, I would only get 2 bars on my reception. We were also quite annoyed when they quietly increased the rates. Apparently they were allowed to do so as we did not read the small print in our contract (who does?).

We still stuck with them but when our contract finally finished, I started looking for a good deal with a GOOD phone. I suddenly discovered that they were no longer the cheapest around and that Orange was offering fantastic deals (though Phones4u) and I decided to jump ship. I did call the customer service up to see whether they were able to offer me any good deals. Unfortunately they were not.

Apparently, as we have found out, here in the UK loyalty does not count at all. My wife first moved and I followed suit.

However a couple of days ago, someone called me up. She was from 3 and she offered me a fantastic deal - 500 minutes, 5,000 texts and unlimited data for just a little more than £8 plus a free phone - a Samsung Galaxy Europa. I was tempted for a few minutes but it was too late. I already have 2 great phones - my Samsung SII on Orange and the Nokia Lumia 900 on O2.

And it looks like I made the perfect choice - Orange's network coverage is fantastic as they use Orange and T-Mobile networks in the UK. Plus, today according to an announcement by Ofcom, Everything Everywhere, the owners of both Orange and T-Mobile networks, have been given permission to launch fourth-generation (4G) mobile services here in the UK. I am really excited..

Related news: Everything Everywhere gets 4G go-ahead from Ofcom

16 Aug 2012

SoundWave SW50 Bluetooth Speaker - Big sound from a small package

I have had a few results to review a good yet affordable portable speaker system for Android mobile phones. So I had a look around and several tech sites had good reviews for the Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth Speaker. However, they cost more than £100 and cannot be classed as affordable.
Jawbone Jambox

So I went to the Mobile fun site and a search for speakers gave me 65 results. I then searched for bluetooth speakers which narrowed it down a bit to 23 products. Initially I had the KitSound KSBLUNO Portable Bluetooth Speaker in mind but unfortunately it was out of stock. Laura at Mobile fun recommended the SoundWave SW50 Bluetooth Speaker Phone. It costs only £19.99 and had some great reviews and I decided to go with it.

Side by side with my Samsung Galaxy SII for comparison.

When we received the speaker 2 days later, I was surprised to see how small it was and to tell you the truth, was quite sceptical about the quality of the speaker.

Paring it with my phone via bluetooth was quite easy enough. All I had to do was put it on and then press the button on one of the sides (with the phone symbol) for about 6 seconds. The lights start blinking red and blue alternatively and you can then search for it from your mobile and pair it via bluetooth with the SW50.

I was not expecting much but was completely blown away when we played 'Someone like You' by Adele. The sound was quite good. You control the volume from your phone.

It also has a mic and we can use it as a speaker phone. It comes with a non-slip rubber mat which works as the speaker did not fall even when I made some crazy manoeuvres with my car. We tried calling a few friends from our car using the SW50. We could hear them properly but our friends on the other end told us that our voices were not clear - so apparantly, not a good choice if you want a hands free speaker to use in your car. Better stick with dedicated hand free speakers meant for that purpose with in built noise reduction systems - like the Nokia HF-510 speakerphone. It worked better in the quieter environs of our house.

We now use it all the time streaming (or is it bluetoothing?) songs from our mobile phones. Of course it won't be replacing my Sony Hifi anytime soon. However, due to its size, it fits quite well in my jacket pocket and doesn't take up much space in my wife's handbag- the perfect portable speaker companion for your mobile phone.

12 Aug 2012

Unboxing the Nokia Lumia 900

Some of my regular visitors might recall that the Nokia Lumia 800 was on my Top Smart Phones list. Well, I was ecstatic when one the latest Nokia models - the Nokia Lumia 900 landed on my hands.

Over the next few weeks, I will be reviewing this phone. Here are the unboxing pics.

nokia lumia 900_01

nokia lumia 900
It's the White model.

nokia lumia 900_02
As you can see, the Nokia came with a 2 pin plug. Fortunately, they also kindly sent me a UK power adaptor.

nokia lumia 900_03
Like the iPhone, the battery is fully enclosed in the one-piece polycarbonate body. As for the battery life: up to 8 hours talk time, up to 400 hours standby.

nokia lumia 900_04
Amazing 4.3" AMOLED Clear Black glass touchscreen.

It runs the Windows Phone Mango operating system (also known as Windows phone 7.5).

nokia lumia 900_05
8 MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED flash. It also has a 1 MP front camera (missing in the Nokia Lumia 800.

The phone only takes a micro SIM and I have ordered a PAYG SIM from O2 which should be with me in about 3 days. Till then I can access most of the features at home via wi-fi.

Come back for more updates.

11 Aug 2012

Caperfly Ltd debuts at Develop 2012

Mobile gaming is an area I am really interested in and according to Gartner, the applications market is seeing exponential growth driven by the rapid adoption of smartphone and tablet devices, with the market predicted to reach a value of $17.5b by the end of 2012.

You can understand why I am quite excited to help spread the some buzz about Caperfly Ltd, a company based in nearby Lemington Spa, Warwickshire. It recently made its debut at Develop 2012 in Brighton.

This brand new digital entertainment and media application company aims to deliver high quality interactive titles to the iOS, Android and emerging Smart TV platforms. According to Guy Pearce, VP Brand & Marketing, the company intends to bring a new commercial innovation, production quality ethos and design expertise to these platforms.

Gavin (CEO of Caperfly)

Gavin Cheshire, the CEO of Caperfly (and Former VP of Development at Codemasters) : “Mobile is changing how people interact, play games and consume media. Our desire is to make gaming applications that enable new levels of enjoyment for the user.”

Former SEGA® America and Europe CEO Mike Hayes joins the company as a non-Executive Director for the company.

Thanks for the info, Guy.

9 Aug 2012

Samsung Galaxy SII

A couple of weeks back I blogged about looking for a new mobile phone and being spolit for choice.

I was really keen on the Samsung SIII but I did not like the idea of paying more than £30 per month for 24 months.

Then for a while I seriously thought of getting myself a Samsung Note. It's a fantastic gadget and my wife loves it. However, as a phone I find it a bit too big. It's really uncomfortable to talk to someone unless you have earphones.

So, in the end I finally decided to go for a proven phone - the Samsung Galaxy SII.

I bought it online from the Phones4u site and signed up for a 24 months contract with Orange. I am on the Orange Panther £20.50 tariff (100 minutes, 3000 text and 500MB data allowance) and no payment for the phone either. Best of all, as I went through the Quidco site, I will get £70 cash back as well.

Here are the unboxing pics:

samsung s2a

samsung s2b

samsung s2c