Using Sony Ericsson Arc to cover the Royal Wedding

We liked the Sony Ericsson Arc so much – loaned to us by Three – that we decided to put it through its paces – on wedding-day. The question was, for a whole day of intense, outdoor media coverage, could the Arc outperform the iPhone 4?

SE-Arc

Screen

The huge 4.2-inch touchscreen is huge – which meant viewing the route map for the procession was easy.

The humble LED-backlit TFT, it doesn’t have the pizzaz of the AMOLED – however, the 480×854 resolution meant that we didn’t miss the iPhone’s outstanding Retina display – a surprise to us.

It was equally poor in bright sunlight, though. When will anyone fix this?

Camera

The 8.1MP resolution takes a great photo – rivalling that of the iPhone. The reason for that is the Exmor R CMOS sensor. It’s back-illuminated to take smoother, better-quality shots in low light than normal phone cameras. For darkness, it even outperforms Apple’s offering. And in normal light, it’s no slouch either.

It also comes with Smile Detection technology – which automatically snaps when a smile gets big enough (i.e. anytime anyone glanced at Pippa Middleton). Video recording is 720p.

Internet

The web-browser was snappy – partially due to the 1GHz processor, and partially due to Three’s excellent coverage in Hyde Park.

We have to hand it to the network (who lent us the phone), Three lived up to anything the Arc could throw at it. We didn’t have an Arc on another network to compare with, but we noticed that Spotify streaming was surprisingly consistent, unlike our experiences on some other networks.

All the media-rich Flash content for the wedding loaded without a hitch – although sometimes the interface could be a pain, Flash Mobile still isn’t perfect.

Speaker

The Xperia Arc failed the “playing phat tunes in park” test. It’s loudspeaker works fine, it’s just a bit unrefined and muffl-y. The iPhone has it here – despite Sony’s music pedigree.

Form

It’s very thin – which is refreshing. Despite the huge screen, there’s no bulk, making the Xperia pocket friendly.

The plastic case feels a bit cheap, however, which really takes away from the whole experience.

On the plus side, it does make the device incredibly light – a helium balloon compared with the weight of the iPhone. You’ll hardly notice it in your pocket – which left us free to carry more Will & Kate flags

Battery

The battery-life is average. After a full day of Royal activities, it limped home, complaining about its tired legs and sub-10% remaining power.

Conclusion

If the iPhone didn’t exist, then the Arc would be our mobile of choice. The camera is great, it’s light, powerful, has Flash. The only issue is the speaker – but who really uses the loudspeaker function, anyway?

If it were a straight choice between the two… Well, it’s impossible. Sorry.

Divorce? app for the iPhone

With everyone in the UK falling over themselves to cash in on the Royal Wedding in a display of commercialism that is almost beyond parody (my three favourite being Royal Wedding Crisps, a Royal Wedding Gym membership and a Royal Wedding pizza), it’s easy to forget that marriage is (to adopt that language of the Daily Mail) “in crisis” with divorce on the rise and couples under increasing social and economic pressure. With Royalty being a somewhat outdated institution in a world of Wireless HDMI and iPads today’s nuptials can’t help but feel a little bit like a dying institution entering a dying institution.

Divorce-app

If your marriage is feeling the strain, you may wish to take a look at the Divorce? app written by one of the UK’s leading family lawyers, Peter Martin, head of family law at OGR Stock Denton and author of the Good Practice Guides for the UK College of Family Mediators and an examiner for the Family Law Panel.

I’d like to point out two things. One is that this is merely a collection of useful information giving you a fantastic overview of what divorce entails and is in no way, shape or form a substitute for proper legal advice. And secondly the app doesn’t encourage (or trivialise) divorce – one of Peter’s first statements is that he’s seen far too many people give up on their marriages far too easily and even links to some marriage guidance counselling sites.

“It allows couples to have their eyes open before embarking on the formal stages of the process and spending money on legal fees. People don’t always think through the actual implications of divorce and this App makes them do that from the moment they start contemplating the idea. It might hopefully even encourage some people not to give up on their marriage so easily and try to work things out.”

But if you’re a bit further along in that process, the app is a pocket-sized guide that lays out lots of the information you might find useful and that you can discreetly take with you for some quite reading. The app is far from flash – it’s basically a book with lots of hyperlinks embedded. But if you’re thinking about ending you marriage of 20 years then you probably aren’t interested in lots of flash animation and bright colours.

At £9.99 the app gives your first lesson in divorce – it’s an expensive business. Available from the app store now.

One For All SV9325: Fantastic reception for after the Royal Wedding

There’s a dilemma coming – watch the Royal Wedding on TV, or head into central London and get in amongst the action. Well, worry no more! Using little more than your laptop, its built-in TV card and a SV9325 portable TV aerial, you’ll be able to watch TV wherever you go.

OneForAll

The device takes its power from a humble USB port, so there’s no need to worry about batteries or finding an external power source, making it the ultimate on-the-go option. It’s a minimal 20cm tall, in a brushed aluminium finish, so the perfect partner for a high-end laptop.

Technically, it uses Patch technology to ensure a wide angle reception of digital terrestrial signals, increased picture/sound stability and minimalise pixellation. It also uses ten stages of filtering to remove unwanted signals like mobile phone or wifi interference.

The device has a nine mile range – which is pretty impressive for an antenna of its size. And if you’re not out and about, it can also work with standard household TVs if there is no external antenna. We’d have liked it to be wide and flat, so it could attached to the back of your laptop’s screen, but it’s pretty nice-looking as it is. Yours for £39.99.

If you’re looking for a more hefty home solution, try the £59.99 SV9390. It’s got multi-patch technology for a wider bandwidth than a traditional aerial – meaning a better Freeview HD picture than ever before.

“Multi-patch” means that it is essentially six aerials in one, allowing it to work through 360 degrees. This means no need for adjustments for better quality, and the ability to place it horizontally, vertically or on the wall without losing any performance. Interference is also minimised, via the external digital amplifier.

The range is up to 18 miles, and it looks pretty cool, too.

The Royal Wedding Phone: Grossly patriotic? Or fun and affordable?

For some, the only vague spark of interest caused by ‘Wills and Kate’s’ wedding this month, is the fact the date of the wedding has been made into a public holiday. Whilst for others the excitement over the ‘Royal Wedding’ is so intense, that joining in the Will and Kate Wedding Walk in London is imperative, likewise so is purchasing all memorabilia associated with the happy couple. If you are of the latter tendency, you will be excited to learn about The Carphone Warehouse’s special edition Royal Wedding Mobile Phone.

Royal-Wedding-Phone

This patriotic phone comes, albeit foully, wrapped inside Union Jack casing with the couple’s initial and date of the wedding inscribed on the reverse, and, even more hideously, features a William and Kate customised wall paper and a special ‘Wedding March’ ringtone. Although mock as we may, this special edition phone is actually quite a bargain. For just £14.95 royalists will own a slim – although we don’t know whether anything so grossly patriotic could be considered as stylish – Alcatel One Touch model, Pay As You Go mobile.

In spite of weighing just 68g, the Royal Wedding Phone boasts impressive battery life, which provides up to 4.5 hours of talk time and up to 13 days standby time. Although its extensive battery life is not the phone’s only notable attribute, as it also possesses a significant 1.5 inch colour screen, an FM radio, a calculator, a clock with an alarm and there are also 64 polyphonic ringtones available for when the ‘Royal March’ ringtone finally makes you feel like hurling the phone out of the window!

The only thing that is missing on the Royal Wedding Phone is a camera so that devout royalists can take pictures of the highly anticipated ceremony and celebrations. Although for just £14.95 what do you expect? And perhaps I am being a little miserable and cynical, as the Royal Wedding phone could be described as being a fun and affordable phone, which as Mark Eastham, Commercial Director for the Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy said about the limited edition mobile, “really taps into the national spirit over the coming months.”

You have got to admit that the nation really has got ‘Royal Wedding’ fever, and consequently The Carphone Warhouse, Best Buy and Alcatel One are likely to be onto a winner with the Royal Wedding phone.