What devices do we use at Clove – August 2014

Roughly every six months we let you know what devices the staff here at Clove use.

We get to handle many different phones.  Many we sell, some we chose not to.  However you look at it many would argue that we have the pick of the bunch.

Regretfully we can’t all just pick and chose a new phone as and when we want it, but we do get the benefit of testing handsets before we decide.

Also whilst our staff may work with and sell the latest phones, it does not necessarily mean they are using them.

So here is the list of devices some members of staff are using and their thoughts. What is interesting is how many of us actually hold onto handsets for many months, which may surprise some.

So in no particular order, here is a list of what some of us use.

Chris Love – LG G3

LG_G3_Shine_Gold_Hands_OnI have recently changed my Smartphone to the LG G3 from the HTC One. I choose this mainly due to its large 5.5 inch screen, yet slim and stylish design. The LG UI allows some cleaver customisation and I like the Knock Code feature, where I can tap the screen in a simple sequence to turn on, but still have a level of security over this. Moving the buttons to the rear make this a very clean design and programming these as shortcuts for the camera is useful.

The screen quality is excellent and due to its 2.5GHz quad core processor it is very fast in all applications, battery life is good, but not exceptional, however the wireless charging is a very convenient feature. Sound quality from the speaker is good, but having been used to the front facing speakers on the HTC One, not such a strong performer on this score.

I am however overall very pleased with the G3 and think it is one of the most stylish Smartphones available at this time.

[Read more...]

Ditching the desktop for mobile computing

ID-100109197There are few things you cannot do on a mobile device today.

Sending an email seems relatively basic when you can now use your smartphone as a controller for home automation products, as your camera, as a gateway to social networks and as an in car video recorder amongst many other things.

The limits are really the apps, your imagination and willingness to work within the limitations of devices.

I know of many who have got rid of a desktop and even laptop computer and use now only a smartphone and tablet to do all that they need to. Their primary uses maybe for web browsing and emails so the added benefits a desktop might bring for some, do not for them, because of their requirements.

Take my mum, she is a perfect example. She now has a smartphone and a tablet.  Wirelessly she transfers photos between the two and backs up through a cloud connection. She often says she would like a mouse and keyboard, but on the few occasions she needs it she does without to save on the cost and space a desktop takes up.

I would like to think I could switch to a completely mobile solution; Chromecast, MHL and Slimport connections to larger screens along with Bluetooth mice and keyboards make it much easier to get that desktop or office feel.  However for me there are a few apps that are on a full version of Windows and work better on desktops than they do on mobile.

That said, I am sure it will not be long before I could completely do away with a desktop.

How about you? Do you have a laptop or desktop PC? Still own one but rarely used? Do everything on your mobile devices?

The blurred line between mobile phone, feature phones & smartphones

featurephonesCan you tell me the difference between a mobile phone, feature phone or smartphone?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines each as:

Mobile Phone - A portable telephone.

Feature phoneAny of various telephones enhanced with computer technology; (later chiefly) spec. a mobile phone incorporating features such as Internet access and music playback, but lacking advanced functionality such as the ability to run general-purpose computer applications; 

Smartphone - Any of various telephones enhanced with computer technology. Later chiefly: spec. a mobile phone capable of running general-purpose computer applications, now typically with a touch-screen interface and Internet access.

If you read the above, it will be clear to see how there is not a great deal of difference in the definition between a feature and smartphone.

This is what has been occurring in the mobile space for some time.  Many of us now own a smartphone often because the prices of smartphones not to mention the capabilities make it the better option to go for.

I encounter people looking for a basic mobile, through to a smartphone, but modern terminology has confused those who are less interested or technically aware.  It is not uncommon to find someone who needs a basic mobile phone and what in my mind is not even a feature phone.  On the other hand I get people who say they want a smartphone when really a feature phone would suit them better.

But what do we refer to is as? Is it our mobile phone or our smartphone?

Few would refer to a a feature phone, but many still own a feature phone.

I have come across a bit of snobbery in my time, those who do not have a mobile phone they have a smartphone.

Ultimately the term is interchangeable as a smartphone is still a portable telephone and the vast majority of new mobile phones are smartphones. I refer to each model as a smartphone but when asking someone what device they use, I would ask what phone do they have.

What name do you tend to use or is it a combination?

It has been with me too long to change

Posted well over a year ago, long standing mobile tech journalist Shaun McGill posted an article titled ‘It’s been with me too long to change‘ you can read it here.

In short he acknowledges his iPhone 5 as the best phone for him, for his needs and feels no desire or need to change as he will not see the benefit, even really if something better came out.

I feel like this with Android and the Google ecosystem. I am deep within it.  Even if I fell for another type of system, it would take time and effort to move myself to it and would it all be worth it in the end?

Spending time recently with the Nokia Lumia 930 and Windows Phone I was quite taken with it, many bits I liked.  Would I switch? Not right now. This is for 2 reasons really. The apps (certain ones I require are missing) and the effort to switch ecosystems.

We each have our preferences, some may agree with Shaun, some may agree with me, whilst others may like Windows Phone or something else maybe.

Ultimately what is right for one is not necessarily right for another.  All to often in tech communities it is about what is better.  One OS may be better for one thing, another may be better at something else, but what is better for each of us is different. That is why only you can decide on what is best for you.

I could quite happily go on using my Z1 Compact for another year and I am sure many of you could go on with your devices for longer, however for some the passion to try new technology is so great we try new things to understand what else is out there.

Do you agree?

MHL, Slimport, Miracast and Chromecast. What’s the best way to get from phone to TV?

Wired or wireless? We look at the best ways to get your phone display on your big screen.

Google-ChromecastOne of the most frequent questions we hear at Clove is “how can I get my x‘s screen to show on my TV?”. It’s a very widespread issue and one that rarely has a simple answer. This is in part due to how much technology in both the mobile and home entertainment industries has advanced and merged in recent years. It’s also not helped by there being a number of different solutions, many of them incompatible with each other or particular devices.

A few years ago wireless wasn’t really a viable option and only the most expensive devices were compatible for video out. There are now more options than ever, however we understand the tech can be complicated if you don’t follow it regularly. In this post we’ll be looking at all the mainstream options available to get content off your phone and onto your telly.

Cables or wireless

belkin-routerOne of the first questions you should ask yourself is do you want to be wired or wireless? Now most of you will probably all chirp in with “Wireless!” as the answer and with good reason. Less wires means less hassle, plus you have the freedom to browse your phone for content away from the TV, rather than choosing something and leaving it there. It’s also much more useful if your TV is wall-mounted without anywhere close by to leave the phone.

Wireless tech however does bring up a couple of issues. One is cost and the other is compatibility, although these are both now becoming less of a factor now than they were even just a year ago. When choosing wireless, you have to ensure that both sending and receiving devices can speak to each other. Usually they can’t, which means buying something to sit in the middle and translate. Traditionally this was significantly more expensive than a wired option, however costs have fallen.

The last issue is your home network. If the tech you choose uses your home wireless network (as most of them do), rather than a direct connection , then sending your content over it will take up bandwidth. Now modern routers can handle a lot of traffic, however if you live in a property with a lot of open connections at once (I’m looking at you students), then running a real time 1080p video from your phone to a receiver could be slowing everyone else down. Also double that if you happen to first be streaming on your phone from an online service such as Netflix before sending it to the TV. If you bought or were provided with your wireless router several years ago then it might be worth double checking its capabilities if many people use it at once.

[Read more...]

Samsung Mobile UK make the Galaxy S5 take the ALS ice bucket challenge

Is calling out 3 non-waterproof phones clever marketing or a tacky plug?

Samsung Galaxy S5If you haven’t been living under a rock the past few weeks, you should have seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge going viral across social media and even featured in major international newspapers.

Several well known celebrities, most probably a few of your friends and maybe even you have joined in at some point, dumping a bucket of ice cold water over yourself and hopefully donating towards ALS research in the process.

You also get to nominate 3 people afterwards, who should complete the challenge within 24 hours or donate extra instead.

ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, which is an overall term for motor neurone diseases and also the name of the most common type, simply referred to as Motor Neurone Disease in the UK.

The ALS Association (ALSA) in the USA is a non-profit organisation dedicated to researching the disease, and whilst the ice bucket challenge didn’t originate with them, most of the recent media has focussed on donations to them and advocating their cause. Other charities have also joined in recently, most notably Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK.

Highlights of the media frenzy have included Bill Gates’ geeky contraption and the Foo Fighter’s parody of Stephen King’s cult classic Carrie.

In the video below, posted on the official SAMSUNGMOBILEUK YouTube page, the Samsung Galaxy S5 introduces itself with a robotic female voice, gets drenched in ice water then calls out the Apple iPhone 5S, HTC One M8 and Nokia Lumia 930 to follow suit.

Whilst this could be seen as some clever marketing and getting in on a popular craze, it is also interesting to note that the 3 phones nominated are not waterproof. Samsung UK have made a donation to the MND Association (similar in scope to the ALSA in the USA), although at the time of writing there is no mention of a donation in the video or description, so a cynic could look at this as mostly advertising on the back of a successful charity campaign.

Still, it will be interesting to see how the other manufacturers respond and if Sony, who brought waterproofing smartphones to the mainstream with their original Xperia Z have anything to say on the matter.

For more information about the ALS Association, MND Association and Macmillan, please click on the following links:

www.alsa.org

www.mndassociation.org

www.macmillan.org.uk

Nexus 5 32GB at £280 now in stock

 

Nexus 5The wait is over, we now have the Nexus 5 in both White and Black in stock. A great device at a super price of £280 including VAT. For your money you’ll get some top end specs including a massive 32GB of storage; more than enough for games, music and other media.

A quick recap of the specs sees you get a Quad Core 2.3 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM with a 4.95″ Full HD screen. As with all Nexus devices you get Android as it should be, smooth, quick and easy to get around.

Nexus devices also get a few extra bits that others won’t see, such as the intuitive dialer and updates which can take a while to make their way to other Android devices.

Our phones are going mad at the moment so to make sure you get one head over to our website and we are looking to get them out to you Tuesday / Wednesday after the August Bank Holiday.

Kazam – What they are all about

KAZAM came into the smartphone scene in November 2013, promising to be slightly different .

A new company, made up of an experienced team, they set out with the following mission.

KAZAM_MISSION

 

It has been nearly a year and there is already a relatively strong portfolio of devices here in the UK, many of which we have had hands on with and reviewed (Read them here).

What sets them apart form other manufacturers a little is some of the policies that they work and operate by.

  • All their handsets are dual SIM
  • All handsets come with a 2 year warranty
  • All handsets come with one free screen replacement for a year

On top of this their handsets are also very cost effective.

KAZAM_Trooper_X5 (5)

Their most expensive device is currently the Trooper X5.5 which is £138 including VAT.  For £138 you get:

  • A 5″ display
  • Google Android operating system
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • 3G
  • MicroSD memory card slot
  • 1.2GHz dual-core professor
  • 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash

Not bad really!

But do not just take our word for it.  They have put together a promotional video that in their own words explains who they are and what they stand for. Check it out:

Nokia Lumia 530 – Windows 8.1 for £99

Nokia-530-messaging-HomescreenLooking for a Lumia device on a budget? If so then we’ve got the new Nokia Lumia 530 heading our way on August 26 and it could be yours for £99, yes a Windows 8.1 device for £99. As any Lumia phone you get the benefit of Nokia expertise combined with the software prowess of Microsoft.

For your money you’ll be getting free maps, free music and the ability to keep up with the world of Xbox, both games and music on the go plus a memory expansion option of up to 128GB so you can keep and move files between different devices. Add 15GB of OneDrive online storage and you can access your files where you want.

Underneath the colourful shell, choose from Grey / Black, Orange and Green you’ve got a 1.2GHz processor and a 5 megapixel camera with a removable 1430maH battery to keep you powered up.

That is just a snap shot of what the Nokia Lumia 530 comes with, my personal favourite being able to use maps whilst offline, a must if you’re on your hols in lands far and wide with no idea where you are.

Grab it here from the Clove Technology website for a mere £99.

Show us your tech – bragging allowed!

Everyone loves to show off their technology now and again.  You may not like to be the centre of attention, but it is likely that you are when you get a new ‘toy’ and want to show it off.

So in what could all too easily become an advertisement for who has the biggest wallet, I thought it would be good to share the different technologies we all own and why.

The idea is to identify and explain what technology you have invested in and used for certain scenarios.  Whether you spent £5,000 on an AV system or £5 on a remote control alarm, every bit of technology serves a purpose in some way shape or from and all technology works in different ways for different people. I love tech, but do not have the budget to go all out on everything!

These lists could get very long and I welcome all additions, but for simplicity you may want to share just a selection of the best.

In the comments below, leave a description of the technology you own, why you own what you do and what purpose it serves etc, I am genuinely interested.

I will start the ball rolling.

USB Sockets

You can read all about these here, but I love them.  I have 3 in my home so far and everyone sees the benefits of these! Only £20.

After

After Installation

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

If you follow the blog you will already know my reasons for owning this.  In short it is down to size.  Devices with screen over 4.7″ whilst lovely, I am unable to comfortably use in one hand, which is important for me.  I want the confidence I can hold and use the phone and am not likely to drop it or have it slip out my hand very often.  I have felt like this for some time and its been reconfirmed by by personal life.

I like to spend as much time as possible outdoors, in the country/forest, most notably because I have a Labrador who likes going on walks.  I use it for navigation, but want to be able to easily hold and handle the phone in the rain, when climbing over a stile.

A more expensive compact phone, it is a powerhouse.  It is not without its faults, but it is a great phone.

Just look at this image I captured on it, I was quite pleased.

Wasp_Z1_Compact

Dell Studio Desktop PC with 2 x 22″ HD ASUS Monitors

Powered by Windows 7 Ultimate, I have recently upped the RAM to 8GB and replaced the graphics card with the addition of 2 x 22″ ASUS HD monitors for a dual screen setup.

I loved Windows XP, grown to accept Windows 7 and just can not get to grips with 8.

Whilst I do a lot on my phone, you still can’t beat a desktop with big screens, keyboard and mouse for graphic editing and some tasks such as wordy emails and documents and some online shopping, it is just easier.

After a little spruce up, it runs like a charm now and I do not plan to change it until it dies or Windows 7 stops getting support. Considering I have had this since 2009, it isn’t doing too bad.

DSC_4338

Sonos System

Perhaps ‘the best’ investment I have ever made.  These are not cheap for the initial setup, but the sound is immense.  It is also the one that I had to convince my girlfriend of least! When she heard it she knew why.

We have one in our lounge, one in my office and will soon be adding others to the kitchen and bedroom when funds allow.

The Sonos system would be considered by many as an unnecessary luxury, but this is the type of product you will use for 10+ years. It is built to last.

You can play music in complete harmony with no lag at all!

All audio goes through this system now without fail.  On a few occasions when the WiFi has failed and we have to resort to the standard speakers on the TV it is like comparing chalk and cheese.

SONOS-PLAY3-and-BRIDGE.jpg

Gigler 1Gbps fibre internet connection

Yes, a 1Gbps fibre internet connection straight to my door.  You thought your 150Mbps connection was fast, this is lightening quick!

Luckily Bournemouth was one of the first locations to get true fibre to the home. You can read more about it at www.gigler.co.uk

1Gbps sounds amazing and on the most part it is, but like anything you do not always get the top speed of  1 gigabits all the time. Plug right into the box and you can easily achieve 500Mbps+ all the time.

The practicality of modern living means WiFi is the norm and that kills the speed too, but still it is considerably faster!  The hours I have saved uploading video to YouTube etc from home rather than work is ridiculous.

Gigler

Nest Thermostat

Nest_Thermostat The most recent tech spend, I never really liked the thermostat in my home. Always complicated and never seemed to come on quite when you set it.  Considered changing for some time then Nest came to the UK.  It got installed this Spring, not the ideal time, but this thing is fantastic.

I and the other half love it too.  Being able to switch it on easily whenever we want, knowing we are saving energy is always a bonus.  There are lots of great features, but the learning element of it works well and it is easy to manage online or through the app.

I will get a real test of it over the winter, but the style and accuracy of this system as well as the online nature is superb and well worth checking out.  It will pay for itself within a couple of years I am sure of it.

OregonOregon Scientific RMR391 Alarm Clock

What is so special about an alarm clock. It shows the time and wakes me up when I ask it.  Very true it does.  This alarm clock though it controlled by radio waves which means it stays perfectly in sync with GMT here in the UK.  It also has an outdoor sensor, so when in bed I can see the temperature outside.  Another nice addition is that of a projector, that shines the time onto the ceiling of the bedroom at night – handy if you stir, not so great on sleepless nights!

ASUS TF701T Transformer Pad

I have mentioned my partner a couple of times and what was my tablet seems to have become hers!  I am sure you have found the same with your partners or kids.  I think these is what confirms a piece of technology is good, if others adopt it.

She loves it.  Whilst used primarily without the keyboard for her, I love the keyboard for writing those longer documents or emails when I am away or want something a bit more versatile on the move.

Paired up with a Cooler Master Ren (designed for iPads) it makes it even more useful and is great in the kitchen if using it for recipes etc.

ASUS_Transformer_Pad-(11)

SSynologyynology DS213 Diskstation

Packed with 8GB of storage, this is where all my files sit and allow me global access to my documents, whilst keeping them off my PC to ensure it performs at optimum levels.

Sat quietly in the corner of my home, it purrs away without fuss.

I have not had it for all that long and am still learning what it can really do, but it is so powerful.  Features such as using it as a recording station/control panel for security cameras is a good thing too.  That works well.

So that is me, what about you….. share in the comments below.

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