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 in the USA, and also the name of the most common variant simply referred to as Motor Neurone Disease in the UK. Other charities have also joined in, most notably Macmillan Cancer Support.

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 cashing in on a popular craze, it is also interesting to note that the 3 phones nominated are not waterproof. Effectively this makes the video a quick advert on the back of a successful charity campaign. At the time of writing there is no mention of a donation in the video or description, so whether or not this endears Samsung to consumers remains to be seen…

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 on ALS and Macmillan, please click on the following links:

http://www.alsa.org/donate/

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Donate/

HTC One Mini Silver – Now £270 with free car cradle

HTC_One_mini_Jul18.jpgJust a quick post to let you know that the price of the original HTC One Mini in SILVER has now dropped to just £270 (£225 ex-VAT). Not only that but while stocks last we’ll be giving away a free official HTC D170 car cradle with each purchase.

With the reduction and the free cradle, this offer makes for a total saving of over £80!

This offer is limited, as with the recent launch of the HTC One Mini 2, the original model is sure to be discontinued at some point soon. To qualify for the free D170 cradle, please ensure it has been added to your basket at the Clove checkout and the discount will automatically be applied in your total. We’ll be running the offer for as long as stock is available.

Follow HERE to order yours today from the Clove retail site.

HTC One Mini at a glance

With a premium aluminium casing and dual front facing speakers, the HTC One Mini followed in the footsteps of its award winning bigger brother. Now available with an update to Android 4.4 KitKat, the One Mini is a top-quality 4G LTE smartphone with a host of modern features.

  • Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean (Android 4.4 and Sense 6 update available)
  • 1.4 GHz Dual Core Snapdragon 400
  • 1 GB DDR2 RAM
  • 16 GB internal storage
  • 4.3 inch 720p screen (341 ppi)
  • 4G LTE (800 / 1800 / 2600 MHz)
  • HTC Ultrapixel main camera with HTC Zoe / 1.6 MP front facing
  • HTC BoomSound with dual front speakers
  • 1,800 mAh Li-po battery
  • 132 x 63.2 x 9.25 mm

htc-d170

Jabra Solemate Max – Social Jukebox

Jabra’s big daddy portable speaker isn’t cheap at £249, but it packs a powerful punch.

We don’t spend all our days at Clove playing with smartphones you know. Sometimes we get to play with speakers and other toys too! It’s a little outside the standard product range for Clove, however Jabra are an established audio brand whose products have always sold in decent numbers as accessories. With this in mind I took the plunge with their newest – and largest – portable speaker, the Solemate Max.

Design

Jabra_Solemate_Max_02First up is looks; when you’re spending over £200 on a piece of kit, you want it to look the part. The Solemate Max is somewhat chalk and cheese in this respect, with a grey rubber casing dominated by the perforated silver speaker grille that stretches round the whole unit. There are also flashes of yellow in the handle, controls, lettering and a yellow 3.5mm cable.

The style won’t be to everyone’s tastes (what is?), with the overall look being similar to a larger Pure radio model. It conforms to modern trends, inoffensive with a splash of neutral colour, although would struggle to fit in with traditional décor.

At around 3 kilos the unit is surprisingly heavy. It remains portable, however I wouldn’t want to be carrying it too far in any one trip. This is definitely more of a unit that can be easily moved from room to room, or from car boot to beach, rather than kept in your bag every day.

SolemateMax_gallery_02The controls reside on the top of the Max, seamlessly covered in the same rubberised surface material as the rest of the speaker. They have a responsive ‘click’ and the soft touch finish is pleasing, whilst also being easy to wipe down and clean. Several ports adorn the far end of speaker, opposing the chunky handle to the left side, providing a number of connectivity options. Here is where you’ll also find the NFC tag for one-touch pairing with compatible devices.

Finally the base of the device is ribbed like a boot sole to avoid sliding around and features the unit’s logo. There’s also a quite neatly cut groove and sockets for storing the included 3.5mm audio cable, perfect for connecting to devices without Bluetooth or computers/laptops/screens with audio output.

All said the Solemate Max has a functional and simple design, almost understated in some ways. If it wasn’t for a 2014 RedDot Design Award I would say it’s a style that’s not trying to win awards; possibly the best compliment a product designer can hear!

[Read more...]

LG G3 Brodit vehicle mounts now available

Securely fit your LG G3 to any work or personal vehicle.

brodit-active-usb-lg-g3-1The LG G3 has now been available for several weeks, debuting with an impressive specification including a mainstream industry first 2K resolution screen.

Several accessories have been made available so far, including the WCD-100 wireless charger and D855 portable wireless photo printer currently being offered for free with every new G3 purchase from Clove.

In addition to these, we now have access to Brodit’s new full range of vehicle mounts for the G3, which includes their passive, active and fixed installation versions. Longstanding Clove customers will know we always recommend Brodit holders for their excellent build quality and wide range of styles.

The cheaper passive units are basic holders without power; without a mounting Proclip, they cost just £21.60 (£18 ex-VAT). The more advanced powered units have options for fixed wire cigarette charger, split cable USB & separate charger (pictured above) or Molex adaptor models for professional installation to the vehicle’s electrics.

Which ever option you choose, Brodit holders ensure a quality fit and premium-looking solution to mounting your G3. View the full range of G3 holders on the Clove retail site.

Brodit ProClips

brodit-proclip If you haven’t purchased a Brodit holder before then you will likely need a ProClip. These attach to the dash or pillar of your vehicle and are specific to the car in use. Once fitted, you can screw the holder into place and position as required. You can also order new holders without a Proclip, to swap devices in the same vehicle or extra Proclips to aid moving the holder to other vehicles. Prices on the Clove site are provided both with and without Proclips included.

There are thousands of ProClips available for a huge number of vehicles, so we can’t list every one. Instead, head over to Brodit’s site and use the tool at the top of their homepage to find which Proclip suits your vehicle and driving style. Once you have the relevant Brodit 6 digit code, add it in the Clove checkout when prompted so we can make sure it ships with your order.

What is Android Wear?

Smartwatches are now here with Google’s new wearable OS. So what makes these so much better than last year?

Google caused some ripples in the industry earlier in 2014 when it announced Android Wear, a variant of the popular mobile operating system with a focus solely on wearable products. Until now, the software powering smartwatches and other wearables has been largely proprietary, that is closed off and owned by the manufacturer.

android-wear-logo

With Android Wear, Google are trying to do what they originally did for smartphones: create a reliable and powerful system so manufacturers can focus on making decent hardware and expanding on the same, high quality base experience.

What are the benefits over other smartwatch systems?

Android Wear Music

Google’s own apps, such as Music, currently work best between mobile and wearable devices, although support is rapidly growing for 3rd parties.

New versions of the main Android OS have support for Android Wear included from the get go. With Google recently reigning in how much customisation of their OS they will allow manufacturers on Android phones, it should be the case that new Android Wear watches and wearables will work seamlessly with all Android phones running 4.3 Jelly Bean and above.

This helps Google avoid any ‘fragmentation’ issues with different versions of the system being incompatible. It also makes the Android landscape simpler for consumers to understand too. You don’t have to worry about LG, Motorola or Samsung’s watches working with any new Android phone. You can pick a new phone and new smartwatch and as long as they both have Android stamped somewhere on the box, you can have them talking to each other in no time.

One other big plus for manufacturers is the lack of development time. With Google doing the lion’s share of the work concerning how the software on the watch talks to the phone, the manufacturer has more time to spend designing the hardware and any extra features they wish to add on top. Motorola’s Moto 360, with its impressive circular screen and now hinted to be available from late September, may not have been possible to produce at an affordable price had they needed to develop an operating system from scratch.

The other killer critique that slowed smartwatch adoption in the last generation was the lack of apps and support. Getting developers to come up with ideas and code apps for an unknown system is traditionally very difficult. Sony found this with their versatile but ultimately under-supported Smartwatch 2 system.

Thankfully the Android Wear framework has been integrated into the normal workflow for Android developers, so it should be much easier for teams and individuals to either adapt existing apps, or write completely new ones.

OK Google!

Android_Wear_CommuteSince Siri’s appearance on the iPhone, the idea of a personal assistant intertwined with your mobile devices has seen real popularity. Google’s version of this concept is Google Now, a less personal yet arguably far more personalised and versatile system.

Google Now builds on the software giant’s Search capabilities and integrates directly with your daily life. The whole experience can be tailored to deliver information based on your movements, local environment, inputted data such as sports teams, regular journeys, calendar appointments and lots more. It does mean tying yourself closely to the Google mobile ecosystem, however the results can be very powerful.

Since the Motorola Moto X was always listening, the phrase “OK Google” has been used for voice recognition in Android. By saying this simple phrase at your Android Wear smartwatch, it will sit and wait for your next command. Keep quiet and the system will provide you with some prompts such as “send a message to…” or “call xxx“.

In these instances you can speak directly to the watch and have a message sent. As you might by now expect, requests for directions can even turn your watch into a driving (or walking or cycling) aid.

Using Google’s research into natural language processing, the system is also intelligent enough to understand direct questions and run off to provide you with search results as answers. You can then read the blurb on your screen or press to open the relevant page on your connected device.

Whilst it’s actually your connected smartphone doing most of the work in these instances, the Android Wear screen interface, ease of which you can interact and the speed of the resulting display makes simple searches, replying quickly to brief messages and call handling a breeze.

A colourful world

Android Wear comes at a time when Google are trying do align their products’ design language across all devices and screen sizes. The concept of Material Design is one that will permeate their offerings going forward. The flattened, simplistic look is just one half of the story. The other being Google employing stringent, overlapping internal rules on how their finished products should ‘feel’ to the user as they interact, based on both device size and product category.

The result in Android Wear is a pleasantly colourful and ‘friendly’ experience and interface. Notifications and results are displayed clearly and whilst navigation prompts are few and far between, the gesture based utilities are intuitive enough to learn quickly.

The animations and themes are also indicative of a product that Google clearly want to outshine the competition with. Also customers already utilising Google Now will have a sense of immediate familiarity with the style.

Android_Wear_Faces

It’s still early days – there’s plenty more to come

At the time of writing Android Wear has only been available for 2 months on 2 devices. What we see now is very much an initial preview of what Android Wear is capable of, although the early signs are very promising. Even Jon who had never ‘bought into’ smartwatches before was raving about it after a few weeks.

Android_Wear_Voice_SearchGoogle are well known for expanding on and building in new features regularly, whilst remaining self-critical and responsive to user review. If they stay true to previous form then we should see regular additions to the system.

Right now Android Wear helps new smartwatches do exactly what their predecessors did – act as an intuitive notification centre for your phone. You can also tailor the experience through the Android Wear manager app on your phone so certain types of notification don’t ping their way or buzz on your wrist. So not every 2 for 1 offer from Dominos Pizza makes your hand shake.

Google’s most recent updates to key products such as Gmail include integration with Google Now. This can learn which notifications are important from your usage and has the ability to prioritise them.

With the new G Watch and Gear Live we see a completely ‘vanilla’ Android Wear. Google have already said that manufacturers will not be able to customise the design of Wear much beyond backgrounds and watch faces, however in the future we may see custom apps and features layered on top.

Apps for Wear

As big names such as IFTTT have already got on the bandwagon, extensions from other popular outlets are sure to start appearing. You might not be able to browse Facebook on Wear yet, although Messenger is rumoured to be making an appearance soon has recently been updated with Wear support. Services such as Spotify also have basic initial offerings for launching the app on your phone, although will hopefully be doing more to make a fully integrated music remote on your wrist.

We may also see hardware manufacturers start to play the unique features game, with the in-house apps on their phones extended to Android Wear, to try and tie consumers into their ecosystems. Whilst this won’t break the wide compatibility model Google are attempting to achieve, it does open the possibility of first party feature lock-out, that decent third party developers could then exploit.

Android Wear’s success could well hinge on getting big names to develop useful apps for the system that sit well with Google’s notification hub. Could Snapchat’s popularity and development to a gesture controlled platform somehow extend to the wrist? Will the undeniably useful Any.do develop an extension to push my reminders to a glanceable position on my wrist? Could I one day control the Netflix on my TV screen, that is being Chromecasted from my phone, with the watch on my wrist?

There’s a lot of potential in Android Wear that might not be realised by early adopters. The good news is the basics have been done very well, laying the foundations for future success.

Doro Liberto 650 – Now Available

Doro-Liberto-650-ClovePick up Doro’s advanced yet easy to use feature phone for just £105

Doro have long been in the business of developing and manufacturing mobile phones for a particular category of user.

Whether you are elderly, infirm, hard of sight or hearing, or just want a well designed and functional mobile phone without fancy extras, Doro will likely have something in their range to suit your needs.

The just-released Liberto 650 is part of a new modernised range from Doro which does include some extras, although remembers to keep doing the basics that make Doro phones popular with their core users.

Now available in red, with a black model arriving shortly, The 650 is a neat, pocketable clamshell/flip phone with a full colour screen and well spaced buttons.

Similar to the feature phones that were available in huge numbers before smartphones were popularised, the Liberto 650 offers 3G connectivity and a web browser for access to the Internet (dependent on a mobile data plan) and a 2 Megapixel camera.

There is also full hearing aid support (T4/M4 on both 2G and 3G) and the speaker is certified to deliver over 83 db at over 1 metre.

As with most Doro phones, you can also take advantage of the ICE (In Case of Emergency) feature to store important information such as emergency contacts, medicinal information and allergies, perfect for first aiders. The dedicated assistance feature will also enable you to access and call particular contacts quickly if required.

You can order a Doro Liberto 650 for yourself or a family member for just £105 (£87.50 ex-VAT) from the Clove retail site.

LG G2 Mini Price Drop – Save £80

LG G2 MiniSmartphone prices change from month to month but it’s not always the case that something falls this far overnight.

The LG G2 Mini is an impressive little bit of kit, although at its previous price of £250 was being a touch undercut by some of the other mid-range competition.

That’s no longer the case as £80 has been stripped to give a brand new retail price of £170 (£141.67 ex-VAT).

At this significantly lower cost, the G2 Mini is suddenly a very appealing handset and competes directly even with the popular Moto G 4G.

In fact, putting the two side-by-side, you’ll find that the G2 Mini beats the Moto for screen size, camera resolution (8MP over 5MP) and battery size. It’s also lighter in the hand and NFC compatible.

LG G2 Mini at a glance

  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor
  • 8 MP main camera / 1.3 MP front facing
  • 4.7 inch screen
  • SD card slot up to 32 GB
  • 4G LTE (850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600 )

Order your LG G2 Mini today from the Clove retail site for just £170

Motorola Moto E – make it yours

moto-e-shellsPersonalising our possessions is a great way of displaying some individuality. It doesn’t just have to be clothes or furniture; even our gadgets and tech, made to look identical when they come out of the factory, can easily be changed for the better.

There’s often been a colour option for new phones, although it usually tends to be along the lines of simply black or white, with the occasional brown or blue thrown in. Despite the outliers, such as Sony’s limited run purple Xperias or Nokia’s recent rainbow Lumia releases, colour choice tends to be limited.

It is understandable though. Smartphones are relatively expensive to design and manufacture and sell with limited profit margins. Adding half a dozen colours into the mix suddenly complicates matters and increases the risk of the manufacturer, or even the retailer who has to stock them, losing money. Motorola have a canny solution though.

Like many cheaper devices, the Motorola Moto E along with the slightly more mature Moto G, have an easy to remove polycarbonate backplate. Whilst primarily to give you access to the SIM and micro SD card slots, the cover can also be switched out.

This isn’t just for replacements in case of scratches or breaks either. You can enjoy changing for a range of coloured replacement Shells, or even Grip or Flip versions which offer a rubberised edging or flip cover respectively.

You can view the full list of Moto E shells HERE, or a similar range for the Moto G HERE.

Motorola are doing everything right

The iconic brand fell out of favour, but has risen as a bastion of the budget market and the Google way

There was a time when a Motorola phone was something of a status symbol among the fashion conscious. In the long-ago times before the modern age of smartphones, feature phones could call, text and take pictures. They also played Snake!

Over the years features were added; having a phone that could download and rock a polyphonic version of Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler was the epitome of cool at one point when I was at school.

After that you could store your own .mp3s on memory cards and eventually cameras appeared that didn’t make everyone look like a pixelated Donkey Kong. If you were lucky you might even have had a rudimentary data services connection dependent on the plan you paid for with your network.

In this world there was little to differentiate phones by raw specifications, so it was mostly down to design and advertising that got one in your hands after leaving the store.

This was where Motorola excelled against the competition; Sony Ericsson were generally feature-filled and cool but expensive, Nokia were reliable but boring and everyone else (Siemens, Panasonic, Samsung) just seemed to be ticking boxes.

Hello Moto

Motorola V525 Vodafone

Portable, stylish, the full-colour V525 got me through several school years

Motorola were fun. They were accessible and enjoyable. They arguably dominated both the clamshell and flip-phone eras and once the impossibly thin Razr was unleashed on the world, they became sexy.

Whether or not they financially won out against Nokia’s onslaught of releases could be debated from month to month sales and is really a moot point. The Finnish company was constantly trying to recreate the widespread appeal of the early 32/3310, whereas Motorola just kept making cool happen.

The ‘Hello Moto’ slogan was instantly recognisable and even briefly became part of the everyday lexicon in the same way as ‘Wassup!‘ or other advertising driven sound bites.

Motorola did everything required to put a phone in the hands of every demographic from teenagers to grandparents.

This isn’t surprising when you remember that Motorola were a company at the dawn of mobile infrastructure. Much of Motorola’s own technology underpinned the very existence of early mobile networks. In short they always had the hardware and ability to produce the most functional devices. They were then able to invest time in producing the best consumer products.

Late to the smart party

Motorola FLIPOUT

Who remembers the FLIPOUT? The Japanese market loved it but not many others.

The second half of the 00′s and the rise of the modern smartphone saw a considerable drop in Motorola’s consumer fortunes. Whilst their other departments continued to operate successfully, the mobile handset division failed to innovate and keep up with the consumer trends.

When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007 and kickstarted a surge in consumer popularity for a previously niche category, Motorola were as late in responding as everyone else.

By the time Google released a ready made operating system to challenge iOS and Motorola found their feet again in 2009, there were new and improved players in the game. HTC had already placed themselves as manufacturers of high quality devices and Samsung were laying the groundwork for a war with Apple that they continue to fight.

The DROID range saw some commercial success in the USA although deals in place meant sales were restricted through particular carriers. Rebranded as the Milestone this handset didn’t fare well in other markets such as the UK.

Throughout the following few years Motorola released decent handsets that were continuously middle-of-the-road yet never stole any limelight from the ‘flagship’ devices. The Flipout, Atrix and Defy are all examples of well received smartphones with interesting hooks that unfortunately sold poorly.

A Google Company

motorola-logoEventually Motorola split in early 2011, continuing as the enterprise focussed Motorola Solutions and spinning off the mobile division into the autonomous Motorola Mobility. The new Mobility was responsible for some of the handsets mentioned earlier and later that year Google picked up the company for a whopping $12.5 billion.

The jury’s out on whether Google got their money’s worth but what can’t be denied is they turned the floundering phone manufacturer fortunes around.

The first Google influenced device out of the door was the Moto X which was received to critical acclaim across the board. Issues with supply in the USA aside, the Moto X was a success, enough for Motorola to briefly make the handset available in Europe to supplement their wider range.

Made to last. Priced for all.

Motorola_Moto_G_4G_Black_WhiteFollowing the Moto X into global markets was the Moto G and more recently the Moto E. What every one of these phones has in common is twofold.

First of all they seem quite basic on the surface; the designs are simple and other than the X’s ‘always listening’ voice-recognition, almost nothing in the way of added features or software tweaks for enhanced user experience or whatever else the marketing team want to call it.

Secondly, Motorola pushed the limits of price to breaking point on all 3 phones, whilst including a practically pure Android installation. Each handset is currently unmatched for price and specification, with Android 4.4 KitKat running either as standard or via update.

With Google’s influence there is almost no customisation of Android either, so this range of devices gets updates very quickly and remain an example to the rest of the industry.

In the last 6 months, when asked, I’ve personally advised a number of friends and family to pick up a Moto G almost without pause. I’ve also seen some of my acquaintances extolling the value for money it offers without any of my usual interference. My keen eye for all things phone has also spotted a number ‘in the wild’ when out and about.

Even without the expensive, glossy marketing campaigns of times past, it looks like Motorola are again capturing the imagination of a good number of consumers.

Lettin ‘em go to Lenovo

So what’s next for Motorola? Earlier this year, Google sold the company off to the Chinese manufacturer Lenovo. Well known in the personal computing space, Lenovo will surely be looking to break into Western mobile markets the same way as they have done with notebooks. To do that they will need more than their relatively unknown mobile offerings so far.

Google must have got their worth out of Motorola to deem the sale to Lenovo good business. Maybe Motorola Mobility’s much speculated-upon patent portfolio has been put to enough work. Or perhaps part of Google’s plan was simply to get some high-quality handsets out there, if only to show their sometimes uncomfortable bedfellows such as Samsung how they want things done when it comes to Android.

We will continue to see Google’s influence at Motorola continue this year. The Moto G 4G has already updated one of last year’s runaway successes to applause and there may yet be more to come from this generation and lifecycle before Lenovo’s projects are begun.

Lenovo logoLenovo as a brand are already synonymous with delivering respectable performance at a consumer friendly price. Just browse your local PC World and a number of laptops on the shelf will not only bear their name, but also be walking out the door in the arms of parents and students in droves.

The new Motorola business model established by the Moto G and E in particular are exactly what has made Lenovo successful in notebooks. If they handle Motorola properly, we could well continue to see a range of capable Motorola smartphones breaking the boundaries of expected price.

Considering the industry consensus is Lenovo got Motorola for a very good price, they may also be willing to pump a bit more money into the company to increase advertising budgets or manufacturing numbers.

If this happens then the times when everyone and his mate had a Motorola could very easily be coming back soon enough.

Hello Moto.

Motorola Moto E – stay up to date

Android_4.4_KitKatThe Android operating system updates very quickly. Google have a schedule that they stick to fairly well, delivering regular functional updates and major revisions on a decent cycle too.

For a lot of phones on the market though, it can take some time for these updates to filter down from Google’s headquarters, through their manufacturer’s development teams and finally on to your phone.

This is often down to making sure the new features work well with the manufacturer changes to Android, or to ensure the phone’s hardware is capable.

Not so with the Motorola Moto E. This budget handset sticks to Google’s newest design principles like glue. With the newest Android 4.4 KitKat installed from the get go, the Moto E delivers all the modern features expected from today’s mobile devices.

Android now has devices like the Moto E firmly in its crosshairs, with much of Google’s work in the last few years focussing on ensuring less powerful handsets can still deliver an excellent experience. Cheap is certainly no longer for chumps.

Add to this the almost complete lack of additional software or tweaks to the Android system by Motorola. This means that when new updates to Android are made public, be they small bug fixes or huge version updates such as the touted ‘L’ expected to go public later this year, they should find their way to your Moto E very soon after release.

The Motorola Moto E is available from Clove for just £99 (£82.50 ex VAT) off-contract and SIM free.

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