The BlackBerry Classic: what the critics think

blackberry-classic

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.

blackberry-classic-back

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.

CES 2015 Video: Zagg’s ‘Pocket’ foldable wireless keyboard

Have you ever found yourself frustrated with the tiny keys on your smartphone or tablet? Ever thought that it would be immensely convenient to have a compact keyboard like the one you have on your laptop or PC, but for your phone? I bet you have. Zagg’s ‘Pocket’ foldable wireless keyboard will support you with phone and tablet compatibility, all with a neat little stand. When you’re finished using it for now, the keyboard folds up, becoming compact and easy to store. The keyboard boasts an incredible 2 years of battery life, with a USB port for charging in 2017. Watch the video above to see the device’s folding in action.

The keyboard is due to go on sale in February or March 2015 for $69.99. Visit Zagg to find out more.

Adesso’s Slimtouch 212 brings flexibility and usability to the table

adesso-slimtouch1

Adesso are best known for making sturdy and rugged keyboards with a price that reflects their build quality, so the low-cost, ultra-flexible SlimTouch 212 is something of a change of pace. It’s only really suited for people with very particular needs, but looks to be good value for that sector.

The manufacturers use the term “hyperflexible” to describe the keyboard, which is less than half an inch thick. While it doesn’t appear you’ll be able to roll it up (the keys are recessed as with a standard computer keyboard), it should fit into even the most awkward of spaces in a bag without worry.

It’s in the “mini” form, which means it’s just over 12 inches across. To put that into context, it’s about the same size as the main section of a full-size keyboard, from ESC to F12. Thanks to some creative arrangement of extra keys like “Home” and the arrows, this means the individual keys aren’t that much smaller than with the full-size setup. For added control, the function keys double up as multimedia and internet hotkeys.

The other big selling point is the silicon-based coating that encases the entire keyboard. That makes it completely protected against damage from water, dust or oils. It also means its possible to clean the keyboard with disinfectants or good old soap and water without worrying about electrical damage. For added reassurance for the health conscious, the coating is also antimicrobial, cutting down on the potential for germs to build up.

adesso-slimtouch2

The SlimTouch 212 works with all Windows systems from 2000 onwards and connected via USB, with a handy six-foot cable length for added versatility. It’s suggested retail price is a very reasonable US$29.99 (around £18.50). That makes it a viable option both for those who travel a lot and those who need something that will stand up to unfavourable conditions such as industrial or medical settings.

A KALQ-ulated Gamble: the KALQ Keyboard

KALQ

Despite its intentionally obtuse layout, the QWERTY keyboard has been a part of our lives since it debuted on a typewriter in the 1880s. However, the increasingly thumb-driven nature of smartphone and tablet typing has revealed previously unseen flaws in the QWERTY layout. The time is right for a new arrangement of alphabetic characters on mobile devices, and a group of researchers think they’ve found the optimal solution.

Christened KALQ after a particular arrangement of letters, this brand-new keyboard layout has been designed to allow thumb-typing at speeds well in excess of anything possible using the time-honoured QWERTY template. KALQ organises letters into neat banks of four, with a cluster positioned at either side of a mobile device. Although this layout will initially seem unfamiliar, the developers claim it will only take around eight hours of use before typing speeds can match QWERTY keyboards. After this, it will be possible to type more quickly and more comfortably, with less tendon stretching required to reach letters like Y or G. Users of KALQ can apparently manage 37 words per minute, compared to 20 with the QWERTY layout.

The science behind KALQ is rather complex, which is perhaps unsurprising considering its creators included researchers at the University of St Andrews, the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, and Montana Tech. This eclectic team used computational optimisation techniques, probabilistic error correction methods and simulated thumb movements to rule out millions of different layouts. Left- and right-handed variants of the winning combination will be available, and the key layout reflects the fact that many regularly-used words like “on”, “see”, “you”, and “read” all rely on a single thumb when using the QWERTY formation. Conversely, KALQ has been programmed to minimise strings of single-finger typing, in favour of constantly switching between thumbs – all the vowel keys are situated on one side, whereas the opposite keyboard contains more letters overall.

KALQ is set to be debuted at the CHI 2013 conference in Paris on May 1st, which is described as “the principal international forum for outstanding research and development in human-computer interaction.” Alternatively, for anyone not planning on attending this landmark event, the KALQ app should be available for download onto any Android device within a couple of weeks.

KALQ will be available to download as a free app for all Android-based devices, from mid-May onwards. Further information can be obtained by visiting here.

The nuts and bolts of Logitech’s new mechanical keyboard

Before we go any further, I would like to say that the keyboard I am typing this on has seen better days. Every keystroke emits a clunky noise, and it rattles along trying its hardest to deafen me as I write this very sentence. If only I had the new mechanical keyboard from Logitech, my world would be so much quieter.

Logitech-G710

The G710+ mechanical gaming keyboard is, by all accounts, the Lamborghini of computer peripherals. With a host of features, the G710+ is really the answer to your typing woes. The low-noise mechanical keys offer high speed performance, making it ideal for both everyday use and intense gaming sessions. The backlight keys also help aid you when playing or typing long into the night. The white backlit LED light is adjustable between four intensity settings, meaning you can make it as bright as you wish, or even turn it off if your eyes prefer it.

As a gaming keyboard, there are 18 separate individual programmable functions you can utilise that will save you precious time, offering complex combinations of keys at a touch of a button. The mechanical keys are built to last too, and come with a life cycle of 50 million keystrokes. The near silent keystrokes are achieved with dampening rings under each key, and they all feature advanced 26-key rollover anti-ghosting technology meaning your computer will never miss a key press ever again.

You can also control audio settings on your PC from the keyboard, and disable the Windows Start shortcut so you are never in any danger of being distracted whilst gaming.

A worthy keyboard that would grace any serious enthusiasts desktop, the Logitech G710+ is priced at a competitive RRP of £149.99. For more information, visit www.logitech.com.

Jorno: Kickstarter Bluetooth keyboard

Maybe it’s one of those signs that I’m no longer as young as I think I am, but I can’t type for extend periods on my phone. I just feel dumb if I’m thumbing my touchscreen for more than two minutes. I know youthful figures in Japan have written whole “keitaishosetsu” or novels on their mobiles but surely it would be nice to type on some keys?

Jorno-Keyboard

Fortunately like Olive I am not alone (although there aren’t a lot of people making Olive references these days). Jorno have developed a foldable pocket Bluetooth keyboard that works perfectly with smartphones and tablets. This is by no means the first foldable keyboard – there is already for example the Geyes Foldable Stow-away Mini Keyboard – but Jorno are hoping to be “the best”. They’ve already garnered a number of prestigious industry awards, including an Engineering Design and Innovation Award from the Consumer Electronics Show.

Jorno folds down to a palm-sized square (7.6 mm) that can pop in pocket or handbag so you can set up camp and have a mobile office anywhere. Even better the keyboard is only 15% smaller than a regular one, so you won’t suffer the indignity of cramped typing on small keys.

Jorno also comes equipped with a detachable cradle so you can pop your phone or tablet in portrait of landscape and type away. It’s Bluetooth so it’s relatively device agnositic and the built-in rechargeable battery should last an entire month.

“We are incredibly excited to introduce a mobile keyboard to the market, which offers such a unique and essential design that has yet to be created. We are passionate about this innovation and are certain it is the next big thing in the mobile productivity arena.

Scott Starrett, CEO and Founder, Jorno.

Jorno is live on Kickstarter. They have recently announced compatibility with QWERTZ and AZERTY formats, reintroduced the early bird special (offering it for $79 vs the MSRP of $119) and released three color option: Red, Green and Blue.

Super-slim, super-speedy Archos tablets – just what the doctor ordered?

Back for another bite of the cherry, or perhaps more likely the Granny Smith, French electronics force Archos is making its third assault on the tablet market, this time with a range of super-slim devices and a whole new look.

Archos-10
 

The Archos Gen10 XS tablet line has been designed for super-fast web browsing via its extra-slim form and comes bundled with a unique magnetic “Coverboard”, a clever 5mm-wide keyboard that affixes to the front of the tablet for protection when not in use, with a magnetic kickstand to plant it propped up when watching movies or sharing photos and which docks the tablet for easy typing. Although the keys are not at full size, it’s a decent enough accessory and the fact it comes bundled with the original hardware is a real plus.

The first of the Gen10 range to market, the Archos 101 XS is a 10.1-inch tablet weighing 21 ounces and just 8mm slim and will hit the shops in the middle of September. It certainly ticks all the boxes; it is Google Certified, powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and is upgradeable to 4.1 Jelly Bean when it launches later this year. Under the bonnet, it runs a 1.5GHz multi-core processor and packs in 1GB of RAM. It also provides 5GB free cloud storage via Google Drive.

So how does this slimline device measure up in a rapidly populating marketplace? Looks-wise it’s already being compared to the Microsoft Surface (price and launch TBC) – you can’t deny the aesthetic similarity – and it will be the first to market. This Archos is also 15 per cent thinner than the new iPad 3 with a pretty standard 1280 x 800 display resolution. But the quality of this multi-touch screen could (literally) be a sticking point. Whereas most new tablets feature a clear glass display, the plastic one of this Archos could well hamper the pinch, flick and tap-happy tablet user.

All in all, this sub-£300 tablet has a lot going for it. Archos has poured its long-game market expertise into shrinking its core device yet packing it fuller than ever with fixtures and features. But whether or not it will be able to carve out a decent niche ahead of its big-gun competitors, this smooth little tablet will surely be a bitter pill for some players in the marketplace.

SRP: £299.99

Logitech Washable Keyboard K310: Cleaning addicts of the world rejoice!

We’ve all been there… A nervous twitch when the company director comes to introduce himself – or perhaps even more nerve-racking herself – to you for the first time, causing a cup of boiling hot coffee to get nervously tipped over, irretrievably damage the computer keyboard. Or the kids drinking orange juice precariously close to your laptop and by the time you go to move it, it’s too late, sticky, gooey juice churning its way into every orifice your keyboard cares to have.

k310-washable-keyboard

These “nightmarish” potentialities of eternally damaging a keyboard could be eradicated forever with the Logitech Washable Keyboard K310.

Whether it’s a light dusting so that your keyboard’s in keeping with your shiny and dust-free computer room, or, for real cleaning addicts, a full dousing under the tap in the kitchen sink, the Washable Keyboard K310, with its barrage of drainage holes, laser printed and UV coated keys, is able to withstand up to an eleven inch submerge in water.

Asides from being washable, easy to dry and ultra-durable, Logitech’s latest keyboarding marvel is designed with comfortable typing in mind. How can a keyboard be ‘comfortable’ you may ask? Well the K310’s familiar layout means that users don’t spend precious minutes perplexedly searching for the ‘@’ key or blindly stumbling around to find the backspace. Being a full-sized keyboard that includes a number pad, K310 users don’t have to fumble about typing on inadequately sized keys and having ultra resilient keys that can withstand, Logitech informs, up to five million keystrokes, you can pound away at your keyboard without the fear of keys becoming loose and flying off.

Hot keys are a convenient component of modern keyboards, which, so long as you’re aware of them, can save you a significant amount of time. With twelve hot keys providing users with instant access to necessities such as volume, email and the internet, the K310 means you can access your most heavily frequented applications with a single keystroke.

So is a washable keyboard that is equipped with hordes of drainage holes and ultra hard-wearing keys stylish and aesthetically pleasing to the eye? Well Logitech assure us that with its thin profile and contemporary design, its newest keyboarding venture is sleek and good-looking, and so who are we to argue?

The Logitech Washable Keyboard K310 is expected to be available from October 2012 costing £34.99.