Acer P3 Ultrabook: Uncompromised Computing

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Acer’s newly unveiled P3 Ultrabook looks to deliver the benefits of a full-featured laptop with the portability of a tablet, whilst trying to solve the age-old problem of choosing between a notebook, hybrid-laptop or tablet.

The idea behind the P3 is to combine the portability of a laptop, the easy of use of a tablet and the functionality of a full-featured laptop, in a sleek form factor, without compromising on performance. Weighing in at 1.39kg and measuring a 19.75mm thin, the P3 delivers good performance and a long battery life in a portable for factor. The chiclet keyboard built into the cover is a full-sized QWERTY keyboard, making it comfortable to use for tasks such as writing documents, and creating spreadsheets.

The keyboard cover is a snap-on case. It’s attached fairly elegantly, but it can’t match the simplicity or seamlessness of Microsoft’s Surface keyboard covers, which lock firmly to the bottom edge of the tablet and make use of the Surface’s built in kickstand to provide extra support.

The design of the tablet itself good with matte-silver edges and a white plastic strip on the rear. It’s also quite a hefty beast with the case snapped onto the rear, and when propped up in laptop mode, there’s no way of adjusting the angle of the tablet, which is a bit annoying for finding the optimal viewing angle.

The Acer Aspire P3 also comes with an optional stylus that fits in the case, ideal of for users who want to do some light photoshop work. Packing an 11.6-inch HD display, utilising IPS screen technology, the P3’s screen isn’t going to satisfy everyone – but it does a great job of representing photo, videos and games with accurate colour and clarity. The IPS display, although not Full HD, is perfectly crisp at 1,600×900. Sound is taken care of with Dolby Home Theater, which adds some extra punch to both headphones and built-in speakers. Audio and video on the Acer P3 can be shared with additional displays via its external HDMI port. The built-in Acer Crystal Eye HD front webcam captures video in 720p HD, bringing life to video web chats while the 5MP back camera captures photos in high resolution. Storage-wise the new P3 Ultrabook features a 60GB or 120GB SSD for incredibly fast startup times and swift performance across a range of programs whether it’s gaming or photoshop.

At the heart of the P3 is either an Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processors, which deliver decent levels of performance whilst still managing an impressive battery life of up to six hours. Closing the case puts the Acer Aspire P3 into sleep mode, and opening it wakes the device up in only a few seconds. Since it runs Windows 8, it can handle all Office programs as well as legacy Windows programs, too.
Acer Aspire P3 will be available now starting at €599, which is quite bit cheaper than Microsoft’s own Surface Pro hybrid tablet.

LG Pocket Photo: All the News that’s Fit to Print

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Until fairly recently, domestic printers were bulky and cumbersome devices that were hardly renowned for their portability. By contrast, the brand new LG Pocket Photo is small enough to slip into a coat pocket, resembling an external hard drive rather than a printer. Yet despite its understated appearance, this elegant silver box is capable of delivering stunning 3” by 2” hard copies of images taken on smartphones and mobile devices.

Rather than approaching it as a conventional printer, it’s perhaps better to think of LG’s Pocket Photo as a futuristic alternative to the instant camera. Pictures taken on portable devices can be sent wirelessly to the Pocket Photo via either Bluetooth or Near Field Communication, before being printed out using an ingenious inkless printing technique from a company called ZINK, whose name is an abbreviation of the words “zero ink”.

Until now, one of the main drawbacks of smartphone photography has been the difficulties involved in obtaining a hard copy. Printing pictures out on a home computer has required hardwire connections and data transfers, while in-store photo booths are increasingly being hampered by the lack of removable SD or data cards in many modern devices. By contrast, the Pocket Photo should work with any Android or iOS-powered equipment, once the proprietary app has been installed. Users can make basic modifications to their pictures or embed QR codes before sending them to print, while the Pocket Photo can even upload images directly onto social media platforms and websites.

Having debuted in Korea late last year, the LG Pocket Photo made its UK bow at the Gadget Show Live, and it is scheduled to go on sale here later this month. Pricing and availability will be confirmed closer to the launch date.

Acer All-In-One: Style Over Substance on Windows 8

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All-in-one desktop computers have been around for a good few years, with Apple cornering the high-end look-at-me market a couple of years ago with the stunning iMac. Now it’s time for Windows 8 users to be treated to the style-over-substance world of all-in-one PC desktops available from the likes of Sony, Acer, HP and Dell.

What is not understood by many is an all-in-one desktop computer has more in common, components-wise, with a laptop than a traditional tower and screen PC setup. Now, that used to mean style over performance; but these days an all-in-one isn’t necessarily a by-word for slow.

Acer’s latest offering, the ZC-605, is a low-cost all-in-one that isn’t going to compete with the iMacs of this world, but it does have some redeeming features including: a 19.5-inch display, Dolby Home Theater v4 surround sound and 16 GB of onboard RAM.

The weakest part of the ZC-605 specs list is the processor, a dual-core Pentium 2117U, clocked at 1.8Ghz, which as far as were aware, is a new chipset from Intel that’s only been on the market since January 2013, and while it’s not going to blow your socks off it’s not a bad base for a mid-range all-in-one.

One saving grace for the ZC-605 is that comes with a healthy dollop of RAM: 16 GB DDR3, to be exact – which is impressive. But we can’t help but feel it might be a bit wasted when it’s paired up with a less-than-stellar dual-core processor, with a built-in graphics chip – a gaming rig this is not.

Elsewhere the ZC-605 continues the all-in-one aesthetic on a shoestring, with the 19.5-inch screen, which comes with a huge bezel, again, compared to an iMac it doesn’t do the ZC-605 any favours in the looks department, but it’s actually not all that bad, because it allows more space for some decent speakers – a massive bugbear of most all-in-ones.

The screen does have 10°-30° tilt adjustment so you’ll be able to find a comfortable position, whether you are relaxing watching a film, playing a game or working. The screen has a reasonably impressive resolution of 1600×900, though, it’s quite someway off 1080p. There’s also an adjustable 720p HD webcam, but there’s no touchscreen capability, which really could have seen the ZC-605 stand apart from the competition, especially alongside the new touchy feely Windows 8.

The most frequently used ports, including a USB 3.0, are all grouped together in a handy port capsule to the side.

Sound is handled by Dolby Home Theater v4 Surround Sound and compared to some all-in-one desktops it’s quite impressive, with decent bass levels and even there’s even an attempt to create virtual surround sound via cleverly shaped speakers in the screen’s case.

TRENDnet AC1750 Dual-Band Wireless Router

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If you have broadband you probably didn’t buy your own router. It’s a rare ISP these days that doesn’t chuck in a router for free when you sign up to a new contract. The trouble is that these free routers are often pretty basic models. Now that we have PCs, games consoles, tablets, ebook readers and smartphones all competing for bandwidth and we’re streaming audio and video in ever greater amounts, having a low-spec router means you may not be exploiting your Wi-Fi to its full potential.

Step forward TRENDnet with an answer to this problem in the form of its TEW-812DRU AC1750 Dual Band Wireless Router (catchy name, guys!). The AC1750 in the title refers to the fact that this router works in the conventional 450Mbps Wireless-N band and the latest 1,300Mbps Wireless-AC standard. Add the two together and you get 1,750 – clever, huh? Wireless-AC is still very new and not many devices support it but is expected to be widespread by 2015 so you’re buying a bit of future proofing.

What all this means in practice is that the TEW-812DRU can handle two wireless networks at the same time. Thus offering high speed streaming for devices that can it and a more conventional connection for older kit – it’s backward compatible with G, B and A standards.

That’s not all though, it comes packed with other clever technology too. Amplified wireless signals give extended range so you’ll no longer suffer signal loss in the east wing of your mansion. It also has something called ‘beamforming’ which directs the strongest signal to connected devices rather than broadcasting it out evenly. There’s a USB port to which you can attach a hard drive to create shared network storage or a printer to share across the LAN.

The TEW-812DU has all of the on-board security you need. It’s encrypted straight out of the box, has one-touch WPS connection, a built-in firewall, parental controls to limit access to selected sites or content types and the ability to create a secure, isolated guest connection.

At a penny under £150 this isn’t a cheap piece of kit and if you’re on an ADSL connection you’ll need a separate modem – cable and fibre users will have one already. But if you want fast Wi-Fi across multiple devices then there aren’t many alternatives with a similarly comprehensive feature set.

The TEW-812DRU costs £149.99 and is available now from Amazon, ebuyer.com and other retailers. For more information visit TRENDnet.

Globalgig: International Wifi On The Go

GlobalGig-Laptop

I think I’ve contracted a new illness. The very thought of having no wi fi signal brings palpitations and beads of sweat. I feel locked out; marooned; isolated from my world. Perhaps there’s a medical name for it, but  It’s not a nice feeling. These days, not being on line when you need to be is a serious matter. It’s all very well having wifi capability , but when there is a serious lack of hotspots to choose from and no obvious cafe or hotel lobby in sight, it’s a desperate situation. The other alternative of data roaming charges is too horrible to even contemplate.

Globalgig from Voiamo provides an instant solution to offline stress, giving you a hotspot device you can carry around with you in the UK, Ireland, USA, Australia and more recently Sweden, Denmark and Hong Kong with most of Europe covered by the end of 2013. This is not a simple data roaming device, but a service that connects to local networks such as Sprint in the USA or Three in the UK providing local wi fi connectivity and saving you up to 95% on per gig mainstream data roaming charges. Not only are you saving considerable sums, you can also connect up to five devices at the same time.

In theory it is possible to achieve speeds of up to 7.2 mb per second over local 3G networks but that obviously depends on the signal strength you can get.

I tried out Globalgig on a tour of the USA and found no problem connecting up with the local network and getting on line with both my iphone, tablet and laptop. The biggest issue was the length of time the hotspot device lasted before the battery needed recharging. I left it switched on while I walked around San Francisco and managed to get 90 minutes before a recharge was needed, but then again, if I just switched it on as I needed it to check emails or make the occasional Skype/Viber call, I could get through a day. Then again, you could take a charger with you and sit somewhere with it plugged in, even so, a longer battery life would be make this product  practically perfect.

“Businesses and consumers are becoming acutely aware of the rip off data bills they face when they return from travelling. Major networks are charging hundreds even thousands for data which is unjustifiable.”

Nigel Bramwell CEO at Voiamo

For me, having the relief of on line access whenever I needed it was the perfect remedy to my isolation phobia. Now I just worry about the battery charge……

Costs

Globalgig rates start from just £10 per month for 1 gig of data, rising to £29 per month for up to 10 gig of data with no contract needed, although you do need to buy the hot spot receiver and SIM for £50. However if you take out an 18 month contract you get the receiver and SIM for free.

Find out more at Globalgig

XPS 18 – Dell’s Thinnest and Lightest All-in-One

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What do you get when you cross a laptop with a desktop PC and a tablet? If you’re imagining a bit of a mess, then you’d be completely on the wrong tracks, because that is just what Dell’s new XPS 18 is. All the portability of a laptop, with the trappings of a tablet and power of a desktop.

Connect the tablet device to a wireless keyboard and mouse and you have a laptop, or alternatively you can set up a special stand that allows it to take centre stage on any desktop. Versatile? Yep, you can check those boxes.

Whilst the majority of tablets with large screens (the XPS 18, taking after its name, comes with an 18.4-inch HD touchscreen display) tend to be rather bulky and on the heavy side, the XPS 18 is neither. Both thin and light clocking in at 5ibs, the All-in-One (AIO) is less than half the weight of its competitors on the market-place.

Dell-XPS-sofa

With an aluminium backed finish, you can be confident that the XPS 18 is also designed to take a few knocks whilst on the go, and the versatility it offers means you can use it no matter if you are in the office, on the train or at home in the living room. The battery life of nearly five hours between charging means you are not restricted in terms of where you use it, making it a truly portable device.

Based upon third generation Intel Core processors together with seamless integration of the new Windows 8 operating system, the XPS 18 also represents good value for money, with a recommended retail price of only £849 when it goes on sale on April 16th.

Visit Dell for more information and to reserve one for yourself before the official release date.

Booq Boa Courier 13″ Review

Booq-boa

I’ve had high praise for pretty much every booq bag I’ve had the pleasure of playing with. The privately held family company somehow manage to get it right and make some of the best laptop and camera bags on the market. So I was delighted that I got a chance to play around with the booq courier, their new premium messenger bag.

Available in tablet, 13″ and 15″ sizes, the courier is as you’d expect a cycling-style messenger bag, that can be quickly slung over either shoulder and quickly swung to the front for more detailed access. There’s a tiny extra strap you can clip in that goes under you armpit that keeps things in place – overkill when you’re strolling down the road but perfect for cycling through town.

The exterior is pretty understated – no garish logos or bright colours and the graphite colour is complemented by water-repellent ballistic nylon that was able to withstand everything London’s weather threw at it. There’s also a reflective night-time binding – impossible to notice unless you know it’s there but sure handy when you’re cycling in the dark.

Booq-side

On the inside there’s a densely padded section for your laptop and a handful of pockets for miscellaneous – I put a battery pack and some coffee bags. There’s a zipped pocket at the front that’s more of a catch-all and then an open pocket at the back if you want instant access to documents, keys or your phone. All Boa courier messenger bags are tagged with a Terralinq serial number. Once registered the booq Terralinq service may help reunite you with your lost & found bag.

Booq-Boa-Back

“Too many bag companies compromise function for style. The Boa courier accommodates the various working environments and ever-changing requirements of the creative professional. We gave it a simple, yet elegant design that fits any meeting scenario from the board room to the coffee shop. By far one of the most comfortable bags we’ve created to date and with the reflective lining, it’s perfect to carry all day and night.”

booq’s Lead Designer, S. Kema Subsomboon.

Boa courier is available for £83.29 (10” iPad or tablet), £99.97 (13” Mac or PC), and £108.30 (15” Mac or PC). Now shipping, booq’s Boa courier is available at booq.

Connected Data’s Transporter: Off-Cloud Social Storage

Transporter

There’s a lot to be said for the magic of the modern age. At the touch of a button everything I say or do can be transmitted across the world to an audiences of tens. And “cloud” storage has created an impressive array of possibilities for people or small businesses who want to access all sort of information at any point in time, anywhere. Although as Louis CK [link] likes to point out, “Cloud” is a euphemism for “big building with no windows and lots of security guards posted outside”. The amount of personal data we willing beam off into space and entrust into the hands of faceless corporate giants is insane. If I had to write down on paper all the things I send to Apple and Google on a daily basis I’d have some *serious* reservations. If I ever got movie amnesia I’m pretty sure Apple, Google and Facebook could tell me exactly who I am, in harrowing detail. Then again I like being able to share my data with friends and family. And have things like photos and documents backed up seems like the commonest of common sense in this digital age. So what is a boy to do? Enter Transporter.

The Transporter is an off-cloud social storage drive for privacy sharing, accessing and protecting one’s files. There are already a host of drives that enable shared storage – QNAP for example do an amazingly comprehensive NAS. But the Transport is built with regular people in mind, with usage more in line with day to day social sharing – not just the needs of a small business’s IT department.

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The key feature of Transport is that you own and control all the data that is stored on the device – making it your own private cloud. Users can access files across the internet and the Transport can quickly and easily make contact with other Transporter devices and users (saving many a headache). Because all the files are stored on the device and nowhere else, usage is 100% private – so you don’t have to worry about a sudden change in terms of service ala Instagram’s famous slip up.

The Transporter people also eager to point out that there are no recurring fees for the device. After you purchase a unit, you have the ability to share thousands of files with as many people as you like irregardless of size. All the magic of Dropbox with none of the restrictions. I do a lot of work with video and the ability to share huge HD files globally is a huge boon to productivity. You can also do this on a smaller scale with photos or confidential documents via connected folders. And because files aren’t in “the cloud” but secure hard drives you can circumvent regulatory prohibitions that can cause issues for certain professions.

If you’re an SME, you can also create secure Iron Mountain-style offsite backups by buying another Transporter, storing it in a secondary location and voila – changes on one device are automatically reflected on another. You can even hide and encrypt data on the remote backup.

Intrigued? Find out more at Connected Data. The Transporter w/ 2TB Drive is $399 with UK pricing expected later in the year.