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While the government works hard to spend millions of our pounds rolling out 50M broadband to the country there are still those areas where the Internet at a usable speed is still a dream. For those people Twitter is often still the noise made by our small feathered friends sitting in the trees.
If your friends or relatives fall into this category then here's a cool way of bringing them up to speed with the craze that is Twitter without even the need for a slow Internet connection. Apart from having much better geographic coverage than the Internet this solution to the twit-challenged this solution can go places that would make most Internet connected devices wither in fear - the kitchen sink for example.
What is this little wonder?
Ummm - well it's a towel. A "Tweet Towel" to be precise. A tea-towel embroidered with your own personal 'tweet' - a special message for your grandpa or a gentle reminder to your partner that washing up can be fun!
While this is a fun, novelty present idea for the technophobe that has everything (they want) - there is a serious side. Each of the special personalised Tweet Towels cost £10. All profits made go to the charity "We Are What We Do" which campaigns to close the gap between the older and younger generations.
Nick Stanthorpe from We Are What We Do ways
"The gaps between older and younger people are bigger than they’ve ever been and this is nowhere more striking than across the digital divide. There are 10 million people in the UK who are still offline and 46% of those are over the age of 65i. Yet, digital forms of communication make up 90% of how 11-18 year olds communicateii.
"There are now around 65 million tweets sent every day and more of that gigantic network could be used to increase contact and understanding between younger and older people.
"When more gets shared across generations, whether its internet skills or hand crafts, families and communities get stronger – and that’s what the Tweet Towel and our current campaign is all about."
Well we can't argue with that!
OK - you might be thinking this isn't such a new idea. There's the BBC i-Player and a range of other similar products out there. Many are even accessible through a set-top box rather than just your PC.
This new service from BiBC (British Internet Broadcasting Company) however is intended to deliver content directly to your Internet Connected TV - no box sitting in the middle. You didn't know you could get Internet connected TVs? Well they are new. BiBC will deliver their content over the Samsung Internet@TV service and the NetRange MMH platform from Loewe and so will be available on the latest range of TVs, Blu-Ray players and home cinema systems from these companies. The service is also available on Philips web-enabled televisions.
This kind of delivery has been dubbed "OTT TV" - Over-The-Top TV. I'm not entirely sure why!
Anyway - given the reach of the Internet BiBC will be making the same service available immediately across many European countries.
So.... what content can you get? Initial channels will include content from Cartoon Network, ITV, Hit Entertainment, AudioLounge and BoxOffice 365 and prices will start from as little as £2.99. Worth a look if you're investing in a new TV any time soon!
OK - this isn't the first time you've been able to watch TV on your computer, in theory at least. There have been TV tuner cards available for many years and we've reviewed a good number of them here at GadgetSpeak. The biggest weakness with these systems has been the quality of the TV signal. In the days of analogue TV you could just about get a fuzzy noisy picture. Now we're in the 'improved' digital age with DVB (Freeview) even that's not possible. Digital means binary which in turn means good signal: watchable TV, poor signal: no TV. Nothing in between.
For desktop machines it may be practical to connect to a traditional external TV aerial. Most of us though have a laptop. We don't want bits of wire sticking out the end we just want to watch TV unencumbered.
AVerMedia have come to the rescue with their HomeFree Duet network-attached TV tuner and we think they're onto a winner! Much like your network attached printer or your games console this cool little box sits quietly in the corner near your TV aerial, receives and decodes the available stations and then retransmits these over your home Wifi network. There are two completely distinct tuners in the system allowing two users to watch two different programmes.
AVerMedia is understandably pushing this product as a solution to "TV on you iPad" however video can be streamed to Windows 7 Media Center and to their own AVerTV 6 HomeFree software. Given the number of laptops in the world compared to iPads at the moment there are a lot of people that could use this product right now.
Full details are available on the AVerMedia web-site. Price is expected to be £149.99 and it will be available from Amazon and I'm sure other retailers around mid-December.
A whole industry has been built around producing docking stations in various forms for various generations of Apple's iPod and iPhones. These products benefited from the universal docking connector adopted by Apple and so each product could support the entire range.
The iPad is a little different - it's bigger. There are bigger iPods of course but not that big. And while the iPad is ideally used on the move to do 'visual' things on that beautiful screen, there are times when you just want to listen t0 music or watch a movie in the kitchen while you cook. In short - you need an iPad docking station.
Recognising this need Altec Lansing have just launched their new Octiv 450 iPad docking station. In many ways resembling it's iPod cousins, and of course being perfectly compatible with iPods, the Octiv 450 provides the ability to rotate your iPad through 90° supporting landscape and portrait viewing. You can also tilt the screen between almost vertical and almost horizontal allowing for comfortable viewing whatever the situation. And to save you having to reach over to your docked iPad Altec-Lansing have also provided a full featured remote control.
We expect to see a whole wealth of iPad accessories grow around this latest hit product from the Apple stable. In the mean time the Octiv 840 will be available from stores including Apple and John Lewis from the 1st December with a MSRP of £129.99.
This years Dream Dozen, in alphabetic order, are:
Top Girls Items
|AniMagic Tender Care Twins||Vivid||£19.99|
|Baby Alive Bouncing Babbles||Hasbro||£24.99|
|Baby Born Magic Feeding Doll||Zapf Creation||£34.99|
|Barbie A Fashion Fairytale Doll||Mattel UK||£21.99|
|Barbie Puppy Swim School||Mattel UK||£21.99|
|Bratz 10.10.10||MGA Entertainment UK||£9.99|
|FurReal Go Go Walking Pup||Hasbro||£59.99|
|JLS Collector Dolls||Vivid||£14.99|
|Moxie Girlz Art-titide Dolls||MGA Entertainment UK||£14.99|
|Ocean In My Pocket Coral Reef||Corinthian||£19.99|
|Sylvanian Families Motorcycle and Side Car||Flair Leisure||£24.99|
|ZhuZhu Grooming Salon||Character Options||£22.99|
And the top toys for Boys?
|All Around Chuggington Train Set||Learning Curve||£59.99|
|DUPLO Toy Story The Great Train Chase||Lego UK||£34.99|
|Fire Engine||Playmobil (UK)||£39.99|
|Fireman Sam Deluxe Fire Station Playset||Character Options||£29.99|
|Thomas Zip, Zoom & Logging Adventure||Mattel UK||£54.99|
|My Pal Scout||Leapfrog Toys (UK)||£19.99|
|Peppa Pig Lullaby Peppa||Character Options||£19.99|
|Play To Learn Mr Colour Maker||Tomy||£24.99|
|Play To Learn Pic ‘n’ Pop||Tomy||£39.99|
|Toy Story Collection Lots 'O' Huggin Bear||Vivid||RRP £39.99|
We all eagerly wait for services, which could provide us with cheaper rates whilst making international calls. You can make cheap international calls to any country from the UK with phone cards but never forget to make a few simple checks before buying phone cards.
Buying phone cards from newsagents,shops is not wrong, but the major set back is that phone cards industry is not regulated by government agencies. If you happen to see any advertisement and the features shown in the advertisement may not complement with their services. Such misleading acts could be found whilst using services.
Your call to destination will measure two elements, first will be cost of calling the UK access number and second element will be cost of international call. For second element you receive a credit on the phone card. Do not forget to add VAT to existing phone card and usual VAT tax is 17.5 per cent. Some sellers may tempt you to buy phone cards without providing you with receipt and you are offered with heavy discounts, it is unlawful so do not follow such custom.
The rates are sometimes rounded to the nearest penny, for instance price may be listed as 5p per minute but actually it may cost 5.5 per cent . So be cautious. Some services may provide you with calls that register high charge for first few minutes and later lessen. Surcharges are normally applied when you make a call from any public booth and they may go up to 25 p per minute. Another important thing you are to aware of is you will be end paying much higher charge whilst making a call to mobile phones.
Phone card working period is 90 days , keep a note of time and usage then go for buying. Otherwise, you may not be able to use to its full value. Be careful some cards collect daily maintenance charge so be careful as you will be for sure charged even on non usage. em
Make sure that you make calls for long duration as that will cost you less when compared to small duration calls. Some companies may fail to provide you with good quality line and this may badly hinder your call. You may also come across some companies which may remove the credit from credit balances and you as an user may not notice it. So, follow those points and then buy Phone cards.
Despite the explosion in HDTV sales driven by a desire to watch every second of those vital matches, it would seem many people are wasting both their time and money. It really doesn't matter how sharp the image on your TV if the lens in your own eyes give a blurred effect.
With fans attracted by the prospect of improved picture quality, clarity and definition, it is estimated (by Kelco) that the World Cup will help to boost sales of HD TVs by 5% to a total of 7.6 million sets sold in this year alone. However a survey by Glasses Direct, the world's largest online prescription eyewear store, found that 35% of the UK's 32 million glasses wearers have not bought a new pair of prescription glasses in the last two years. They may be unaware that their potentially reduced vision will impede their viewing of the beautiful game which would be a real shame, as three million people have now subscribed to HD in the UK.
"Even a slightly short sighted person trying to watch an England match on HD TV may fail to take advantage of the superior picture quality. If you're investing the money to buy an HD TV to watch the World Cup, you ought to have your eyes checked to ensure you're experiencing the full benefit" says David Hutchfield, Dispensing Optician at Glasses Direct.
Jamie Murray Wells, Founder and Executive Chairman of Glasses Direct adds "We want to help the fans get as much out of the World Cup as possible so we're giving away a free pair of Fabio Capello style ZeroRH+ frames complete with prescription lenses to the first hundred people who now get their eyes tested and find they need a new pair of prescription glasses."
Take advantage of the free offer by visiting http://ww.glassesdirect.co.uk/fabio
In Cannes, on the eve of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, Acer announced its “cut” on the HD revolution. In particular Gianpiero Morbello, Acer Group Corporate vice-president Marketing & Brand pointed out that today’s users are focussed on entertainment and socio-entertainment. Consequently, Acer and chip maker AMD have embarked on a marketing strategy focussing on user needs rather than the conventional approach of chips and speed designations.
Stressing that HD is “for everyone, anywhere, any time” he pointed out that, by 2013 some 91% of consumer traffic will be all forms of video including video-on-demand, Internet, P2P etc. Hence, the need is to simplify people’s decision making process when they go shopping for a new PC.
There are basically three levels under the AMD “Vision” brand: Basic, Premium and Ultimate so that, without being blinded by science, the buyer will be able to focus on those PCs which are appropriate to his needs. The Basic is appropriate to those who just want to on line videos and DVDs; the Premium is for those who want to watch Blu-Ray or HD videos while the Ultimate is more suitable for those who wish to create music, photos or videos. There is also Black from AMD which is targeted at those really needing extreme performance.
At this extreme is the Acer Aspire M5400 series which employ AMD’s Vision Black Technology. The combination of technology available has the potential to provide a level of performance well beyond the needs of the majority of users. However, there will be various permutations so that users can opt for the package that best suits their needs and expectations. It can incorporate the six-core AMD Phenom II X6 processor which, for example, is claimed to be able to organise digital libraries 40% faster, using facial recognition to categorise photos, than competing desktop PCs; full support for Microsoft DirectX 11; and ATI Eyefinity technology which can support up to 6 monitors.
Although not forgetting the needs of the majority of users with its Acer, Packard Bell and eMachines brands, Acer is really putting down a marker that, as well as making it easier to choose a machine, it can also meet the needs of the geeks.
A name new to the UK, they are a large company in the USA, partnered in the UK with Carphone Warehouse.
Their first store opens on 30th April in Thurrock (quite neat to Lakeside shopping centre) in a retail park with other well known names.
Their store stocks kitchen appliances, mobile phones, computers, cameras, TV’s as well as CDs DVDs and accessories.
By the end of 2010 they will have five stores in various parts of England. Their eventual aim to worry the likes of the Dixons and Currys group. Yes they will be doing online sales later in the year.
On the preview day I went to earlier this week the big thing you notice is a lot more staff and they appear - from the odd casual question – to have a reasonable level of knowledge certainly a lot higher than most store employees.
Several areas of the store are set aside for rooms to show various aspects of what they sell. An audio room was quite impressive. For those wanting to see 3D TV they have a room for that, one of the employees I spoke with was very keen to show me the gaming room.
I was rather impressed with the ‘Green’ area with not only bicycles but also a rather nice Citroen electric car that looks near normal.
Given their ‘Green’ image I was surprised only to see original manufacturer inkjet cartridges on sale, no third party or kits to allow you to refill your old empty ones, surely a mistake there but as it was still a few days till they open that might be corrected, especially as I mentioned it.
The next two stores will open in June Hedge End (Southampton) and Merry Hill (West Midlands). The final three for this year Aintree (Liverpool) and Croydon (Surrey) later in the year and lastly Cribs Causeway (Bristol). Sometime in that timeframe the online store will open.
They have a Geek Squad area in the store to offer help and advice and they say it will also be available online at www.bestbuy.co.uk
Following 200 years of development, from the conspicuous ear-trumpet to the cumbersome ‘beige banana’ Phonak have now launched what is claimed to be the world's smallest hearing aid - the Audéo MINI. This tiny engineering marvel is equivalent to the size of a jelly bean - and has now been launched in the UK.
The Audéo MINI sits virtually undetectable behind the ear and offers a discreet solution for the twelve million people in Britain that currently suffer from hearing loss. Today one in five adults has difficulties with their hearing and this figure is expected to rise to one in three by 2025*.
Audéo MINI's revolutionary design and unrivalled performance has just beaten more than 4250 products from 60 countries to win the prestigious red dot design award at the world’s largest and most respected design competition. An international jury awarded the Audéo MINI the coveted top prize and will see it showcased in the red dot design museum in Germany.
The Audéo MINI’s design was developed in response to a growing demand from the baby boomer generation, the young at heart consumers in their 50s and 60s, who want to boost their hearing to stay at their best but don’t want to draw attention to a problem typically associated with ageing. According to experts, people currently struggle for 15 years on average before seeking advice!
Valentin Chapero, Chief Executive of Phonak who developed the device, says: "The Audéo MINI is a landmark development for hearing correction and the next significant advancement in hearing technology. Powerful enough to provide the user with crystal clear sound quality whilst small enough to sit, almost invisible, behind the ear."
The Audèo MINI includes state-of-the-art functions including the ability to automatically adapt to changing hearing situations and selectively focus on specific speech sources to reduce the distraction of background noise. Thetechology is also claimed to make it possible for the wearer to detect the highest frequency sounds such as bird song or quiet whispers, which are often the first to go when hearing deteriorates.
Visit www.phonak.co.uk for further information.
* Davis A. Audiovestibular Symptoms, Including Tinnitus, in the Ageing Population, ENT & Audiology news, 2009: 18(4):85-88