How fast an internet connection do you really need?

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For those old enough to remember the old days of dial-up connection with Wi-Fi nowhere to be seen, modern broadband has been a God send. For the most part it allows us to download files in a reasonably fast time and streaming movies usually goes without a blip.

For businesses however this is not always enough, especially larger corporations with offices in different parts of the country or indeed the world. For smaller businesses 10 to 100 mega bits a second is usually adequate.

But for some organisations that simply isn’t fast enough. Some businesses demand speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second – that’s between 10 and 100 times faster than your average business broadband speed.

So what type of business, if any, demands such high-speed internet connections? Is it really necessary and what advantages does it bring them?

Multinational companies

For companies with an international presence, superfast internet speeds are a must. This is particularly true when it comes to video-conferencing calls. For a company who has a presence in different parts of the world, video-conferencing has become an essential tool for effective communication. As this requires high uninterrupted speeds to be carried out effectively, your average home/ office broadband will not suffice.

Leased line connections offer a dedicated line to the user, meaning it doesn’t matter what time of day or night you use it, it will still deliver a fast connection. Click here for a description of the different types of internet connections that are currently available.

City banks  

In large city institutions leased line connections offer both a fast and ultimately a more secure way to conduct business. Take for example a video-conference call going on between London and New York – at the same time someone else wants to monitor stock prices. It is essential that there is sufficient bandwidth to run both applications simultaneously, otherwise one or other – or both will suffer.

Leased line connections also offer more security as they are connected through two points as opposed to over the internet.

E-Commerce Businesses

Basic broadband packages offer download speeds but not always upload speeds. This is ineffective for an e-commerce business or any company that conducts their business online. They need a fast connection that can also guarantee quick uploading times in order to sustain their business.

Of course not everyone needs such superfast speeds; here is an article outlining how much internet speed is right for you.

 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock. The words and opinions above were provided by a third-party, and as such this should be considered a ‘sponsored post’.

A thumbs up for the Nikon Coolpix S9900 and P7000

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Increasing the Coolpix range further, two new high zoom cameras have been announced by Nikon – The slim line S7000 and the vari-angle S9900. Latest Gadgets looks at the initial reaction to Coolpix additions.

Coolpix S9900

According to Digital Photography Review’s assessment the 16-megapixel S9900 is the “ideal long zoom camera for the light-packing jetsetter.”

Resoundingly impressed it seems by the new Nikon camera, the DP Review is quick to point out that blurred images are effectively minimised by the camera’s Hybrid VR Technology for videos and the 30x optical zoom lens shift VR for stills.

You can’t get much better than a camera that delivers images of “superb quality” and “precise detail”, qualities attributed to the S9900 by the DP Review.

A retro design

In its hands-on review of the S9900, Pocket Lint is compelled to excitedly flaunt the camera’s retro design. In fact the word ‘retro’ is repeated four times by Pocket Lint by the time we reach the sixth paragraph of the review.

Asides its stylish retro look, Pocket Lint is impressed by the Coolpix S9900 3-inch vari-angle display on the rear, which has a resolution of 921k-dots but is a TFT LCD display rather than an OLED.

By all intents and purposes, it looks like the S9900 will compete against the likes of the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 and the Canon’s PowerShot SX710, both of which, according to Pocket Lint, are “excellent cameras in their own right.”

Retailing at £279.99, it seems the new Coolpix S9900 has got the thumbs up by the tech reviewers, but what about its considerably cheaper sibling, the CoolPix P7000?

Coolpix P7000

CNET award the P7000 a less favourable 3.5 stars, deeming the camera’s plus points to be its ‘nice’ – hardly the most engulfing of adjectives – set of shooting-focused features. Other pros, according to CNET, is the P7000’s optical viewfinder and built-in density filter, “very good” photo quality for its class, and comfortable and “relatively” streamlined shooting design.

And on the negative side, the Coolpix P7000 brags “relatively slow raw shooting.”

Overall though CNET tends to be in favour of the new Coolpix citing it as a “fine camera that lots of enthusiasts will appreciate for its smart shooting design, interesting feature set, and worthy photo quality.”

Also to Nikon’s credit, state CNET, is the fact that the Coolpix P7000 is a complete rework of its predecessor the P6000, rather than a mere update.

Trusted Reviews give the P7000 an impressive 9 out of 10.

The review site is eager to cite the camera’s key features that include a 1/1.7-inch 10-megapixel CCD sensor, a 7.1x f/2.8- 5.6 Nikkor zoom lens, a 7.5cm LCD monitor and being 114.2 x 77 x 44.8mm in size and 360g in weight.

Excellent autofocus

The pros of the P7000 are, according to Trusted Reviews, its excellent autofocus, superb lens, and good build quality. On the downside is the camera’s disappointing video recording mode and the fact it’s slightly sluggish.

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The slim line P7000 retails at £169.99.

Coming in a hugely diverse range of styles, colours, quality, features and capabilities, which are easy to transport and don’t cost the earth, it’s easy to understand why Nikon’s Coolpix range has proven so popular.

And it seems, by most accounts, Nikon’s two latest Coolpix additions won’t let consumers down.

Asus ZenBook UX305: looks good, but is there substance?

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It’s ultra slim line. It’s aimed at professionals on the go, and it weighs just 1.2kg. The Asus ZenBook UX305 certainly sounds like it could have potential for those who work on the move, but what to the critics think?

When it comes to laptops, CNET isn’t always the forthcoming in sounding the merits. When therefore the technology review site use several complementary adjectives to describe a new gadget, we are compelled to sit up and read on.

In their hands on review of the UX305, CNET says they were impressed by the ZenBook’s slim frame, which, measuring just 12.3 mm thick and weighing a mere 2.6 pounds, is one of the slimmest laptops going.

Furthermore, with its all-aluminium frame, the UX305 both looks and feels “like a luxurious piece of kit,” continue CNET.

With an Intel Core M processor and 8GB of RAM inside its skinny frame, there should be plenty of oomph to keep Windows 8.1 “ticking along nicely,” CNET continues.

Will it impress amidst the business lounge elite?

Whilst impressed by its slightness and memory, assets that CNET believe will be attractive to business users on the go, the review’s only doubt is whether or not the UX305 will look the part when pulled out of a briefcase in a business lounge.

Throwing another view of the design of the ZenBook, the Ultra Book Review of the UX305 deems the device as sleek-looking, keeping the familiar lines of Zenbooks but with the added intrigue of concentric circle patterns on the lid and bevelled sides on the darker finishing but chromed elements on the white one. Sounds like Asus have at least tried to provide some intricacy on the UX305’s design.

On a less positive note, the Ultra Book Review is quick to point out that the UX305’s footprint seems to be pretty similar as the UX301 and, asides its being slimmer, there is nothing particularly new to shout about with the UX305.

Fan-less hardware

The pros of the Asus ZenBook according to this review are it strong and beautiful build, packed with a great matte display, its fan-less hardware and that it’s fast enough for everyday use.

Its cons are the fact it’s void of a backlit keyboard, it can get a tad overheated, its Wi-Fi is a little slow and the trackpad is prone to glitches.

Pocket Lint is quick to point out the Asus ZenBook UX305’s price – £649.99.

The technology site seem impressed with the device’s 128GB solid state disk drive and its resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

On the downside, Pocket Lint seems a little disappointed that despite being available to two colours – a silky-smooth Ceramic Alloy shade and an Obsidian Stone with ZenBook’s signature spun-metal finish, the UK only has the latter version!

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All in all, if you’re after a lightweight and fairly stylish ZenBook that has all-day battery and powerful productivity and you are willing to part with £650, with the Asus ZenBook UX305 you could be on to a winner.

Kyocera Torque – budget-priced ruggedized smartphone crosses the pond

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There are few things in life more frustrating than damaging a smartphone. Apart from the expense involved, the thought of spending days without catching up on Twitter and playing Candy Crush is often too much for some people to bear, so it’s no wonder we’re starting to see an increasing focus on durability. Toughened screens and waterproofing are all well and good but if you’re particularly clumsy or perhaps have a penchant for all-terrain activities then you might like an all-terrain smartphone, and there have been precious few of those to choose from.

Luckily one is on the way in the Kyocera Torque, a new version of a phone with the same concept that was doing the rounds a couple of years ago in the US, and it looks like it could stand up to quite a bit of punishment. What’s interesting about it is that unlike some other phones that justify pricing a mid-range handset at a high-end price due to a relatively unique concept; this is a budget model with fairly reasonable specs.

A quad-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor powers a 4.5” display with 1280×720 resolution that can also be operated with regular gloves on or when wet, which given the target market could come in very handy. Incorporated into the display, or specifically the glass front panel, is something called “smart sonic receiver”, which uses the whole surface as a speaker detecting both sound and vibrations and is designed to transmit sound through the cartilage of your ear to improve audio for both phone calls and media playback.

An 8MP rear camera and 2MP front facer are fairly standard, though it would have been nice to see a bit more going on in this area given that if you are venturing into the great outdoors with it there may be a fair few photo opportunities, and a meaty 3,100mAh battery offers reassuring impressions that it’ll last quite some time between charges.

In terms of protection you’re getting the latest IPX5 and IPX8 waterproofing, which essentially means it can survive in five feet of water for around 30 minutes, it’s dustproof and shockproof and can also withstand temperatures between -21 and 50 degrees centigrade for three hours. Unfortunately it only runs Android 4.4, which given the specifications is unlikely to be upgraded, but since at this price point many people will be picking one up as a secondary phone it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

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The Torque is already doing the rounds in the US but will be coming to the UK in the spring – in fact it’s the first Kyocera model to be launched into the European market. No prices have been announced as yet, but with a $99.99 tag we expect it to be affordable, to say the least.

Garmin Forerunner 920XT – best fitness “smartwatch” on the market?

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At first glance you’d be forgiven for classifying the Garmin Forerunner 920XT as “just another smartwatch”, albeit on with more of a sporty twist. This is another category of “wearable” entirely though – best described as a multisport GPS watch it offers a massive range of data for various exercises and delivers far more than your average gadget when it comes to monitoring and managing your fitness.

Running through just some of the features you’ll find running dynamics including cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time, swim distance, pace, stroke type identification, stroke count, drill logging and rest timers and a whole bunch of support data such as race predictors, a recovery advisor and smart notifications to let you see alerts from your smartphone via the device. It’s also very much embedded in the Garmin Connect community for planning and sharing workouts, and promises to be a one-stop solution for those more serious about their fitness.

We’ll get straight down to business and take a look at how this high-end device fares.

Wareable gives the 920XT 4.5/5 and lauds its capabilities as an all-rounder, calling it “the most fully-featured multi-sport watch on the market right now”. These features include tracking seven types of activity including biking, running and swimming, both indoor and outdoor, and triathlon along with the ability to track general movements like your less versatile fitness accessories. This does come at a cost though – “The Garmin Forerunner screams function more than beautiful form” and what this means is there are some design compromises to be made to have all this functionality on your wrist. This isn’t a fashion accessory and is described as having a chunky face “that’s about half the size of a standard business card and about 13mm thick, it’s at the larger end of the scale among its rivals and might not sit so well on small wrists.” It’s fairly light, but this doesn’t really work for it as weighty timepieces can add a feel of sophistication, but if you can get over these issues there’s plenty to like.

Techradar describes the Forerunner as a “a powerhouse of a watch that’s like a coaching team that sits on your wrist”, rating it an impressive 4.5/5 and though it has similar issues with the rather large design points out that this does make the buttons very easy to access. The only other problem it has is the phone connection is a little inconsistent, and can take a bit of time to establish if there are a large number of buildings around. Otherwise the range of functionality is impressive and it seems as though there’s enough data provided to keep you motivated in the long-term –  the “VO2 Max lets you know how much fitter you’re getting, and over time the watch becomes more adept at working out your abilities”. The battery was also very impressive at 4-5 days between charges, and that’s even with all-day activity tracking, and it concludes that while better for more serious users, “The Garmin 920XT delivers on nearly all fronts”.

We’ll turn to Bikeradar for a more in-depth look at how it works. It highlights the range of connectivity options (Bluetooth, ANT+, GPS, Glonass, Wi-Fi, USB) and real-time measurements alongside estimates for things like VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption) and recovery time. Though it is very configurable, you needn’t get bogged down in trawling settings menus.

“The Garmin 920XT delivers brilliantly right out of the box, providing good data on the fly and a plethora more for post-exercise analysis, with automatic wireless uploads to Garmin Connect, Strava and TrainingPeaks via your home Wi-Fi network or your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone.”

It’s also very fast to connect and immediately uploads data to a smartphone without prompting once you’ve finished an exercise. This works in the other direction via Bluetooth, displaying texts and notifications as they arrive, though some may not want to be bothered during a workout and there seems to be limited management of what types of data arrive. Other little tricks like allowing friends and family to see your location and follow your workout in real-time could be handy.

Bikeradar puts the watch through its paces in each of the core exercises. For running it notes a few novel readings such as “cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time for running, captured via the HRM-Run monitor that also provides distance and speed estimations when running on a treadmill”. It recorded a 95% accuracy when running on a treadmill and it does a good job of staying involved with a recovery advisor that “pops up a few minutes into a workout, and lets you know how your heart is doing”, also advising you how much time to take off at the end.

Indoor swimming did reveal some issues getting a GPS signal but the accelerometer can kick in here and capture total distance (after setting the pool length) which seemed to work very well. After you swim a neat graphic appears with data such as stroke count and speed, it had a 90 to 95% accuracy detecting stroke type, though as with most other watches it isn’t possible to record heart rate while swimming.

For cycling it points out that this is no substitute for a dedicated handlebar-mount unit, both in terms of accuracy and “If you want to do power or heart rate-based intervals and closely monitor the data, twisting your wrist is definitely a second-rate option to just staring”. Detailed GPS and heart rate information is very good though, and a wide range of cycling metrics include “such power-based fields as current, 3sec average, left/right output, normalise power and Training Stress Score.”

It rates the 920XT at 4.5/5 and concludes by saying that it’s “the best multisport device we have tried”, so it’s another fairly glowing review to round off the impressions so far.

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All signs seem to point to the fact that if you’re serious about your fitness, particularly if your favourite exercises include running, cycling or swimming, this is just about the best device on the market right now. It’s not cheap by any stretch though – at £419 it’ll cost around the same as a mid-high end smartphone, so will need a serious fitness and financial investment to justify a purchase.

Unboxing: Black+Decker ORA vacuum cleaner

It’s an upright vacuum with 12 cyclones, which claims to have no loss in suction, with 3 attachments and a charging stand. But wait – there’s more! It’s also a handheld vacuum cleaner that detaches from the main unit and becomes a compact (though heavy) smaller unit. The vacuum’s power is all stored in this smaller unit, so you won’t have any less power when using it. The vacuum held up well in tests, removing a great deal of dirt from places where this dirt is invisible, and losing no power throughout. Watch the video above to see us unboxing the Black+Decker ORA.

The Black+Decker ORA vacuum cleaner is available now. Visit Black+Decker to find out more.

Hands-on: Karcher’s WV2 Premium

Condensation in the home and office has to be one of the most difficult things to tackle in daily life. When you’re in an enclosed space that’s prone to condensation, you need a quick way to remove it before your windows look like they’ve been whitewashed. Karcher, a German company, aims to challenge this with its popular range of window vacuums – or ‘Window Vacs’ with its top-of-the-line release, the WV2 Premium.

The WV2 Premium and its family work like small handheld vacuum cleaners with a wide blade. It removes condensation with a swift and satisfying swipe – it is however prone to leaving streaky marks on the window, which can be frustrating. Nonetheless, it does as intended, and in our experience with the WV2 it has shown shown it is a far superior alternative to the familiar cloth method of water removal. Watch the video above to see us unboxing the WV2 premium.

The WV2 Premium is available now. Visit Karcher to find out more. If you’d like to see us comparing the new WV2 Premium to the older generation WV50, click here.

The BlackBerry Classic: what the critics think

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For many die-hard BlackBerry fans, no phone will suffice over the BlackBerry. There’s just something about battling with that fiddly QWERTY keyboard that they love.

But having cast many of its traditional features aside – except its keyboard of course – how will the new BlackBerry Classic fare, especially for the BlackBerry fans?

Reiterating the surmise that, well it’s only really those who are fond of the BlackBerry who would give the Classic a run for its money, is Tech Radar’s review of the new phone.

In a 3.5 star review (we’ve seen worse), Tech Radar compliments the Classic’s improved navigation and its fast web browsing – thanks to the BlackBerry 10 web browser, which is, according to BlackBerry, rated amongst the top mobile browsers for web fidelity.

Other plus points Tech Radar highlight is its great messaging and the fact the phone is “perfect for BlackBerry fans.”

On the downside, which unfortunately there often is with BlackBerry, is the fact there are fewer apps on offer, it possesses an erratic battery life, which is disappointingly ironic as BlackBerry excitedly claim the Classic has a “50% longer battery life”.

And Tech Radar’s qualms don’t stop there, as other ‘againsts’ are the Classic’s ‘un-media friendly’ square screen and its chunky and heavy design.

After a fairly disappointing review, were CNET any more impressed with BlackBerry’s latest offering?

CNET also gave the Classic a 3.5 star review but we have to admit was kinder than its rival tech review site.

As well as praising its comfortable, accurate keyboard with an attractive design, CNET was impressed with the fact the BlackBerry Classic has support for Android apps.

“If you’re willing to trade screen size for a superior physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Classic is a fantastic productivity phone for old-school QWERTY junkies,” was CNET’s bottom line.

The Verge disputes Tech Radar’s disgruntles about the Classic’s “erratic battery”, claiming the phone’s battery life “is pretty cool.”

However, when it came to the phone’s camera capabilities, The Verge was less impressed, citing the 8-megapixel camera on the back as “tremendously slow.” Even The Verge writer’s lap cat couldn’t be bothered waiting for the painful slow shutter to do its magic and walked out of shot when being photographed!

Highlighting the Classic’s infuriating mix of “crazy fast and insanely slow”, the Verge pins the problem on the fact the Classic has a last-gen processor that cannot keep up with modern apps and web pages.

The Telegraph was however less condemning of the Classic’s camera, pointing out one clever new feature that allows users who divide their phone between personal and work life to take images on a ‘work camera app’, which are then saved onto the work ‘perimeter’ – could be useful.

With innovative features such as the BlackBerry Blend, enabling users to put messaging and content on their BlackBerry onto computers and tablets, a pre-loaded BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, 60% more screen space and a greater variety of apps through BlackBerry World and the Amazon Appstore, BlackBerry have certainly tried hard with the Classic.

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Though we have to admit, it’s for a reason that BlackBerry is down to a miserly 0.5% of the market share of global smartphone shipments.

The BlackBerry Classic is available now for £349.00. Visit Blackberry to find out more.