Toshiba Portege Z830

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Toshiba Portege

Ever since the MacBook Air hit our shelves we’ve seen a steady stream of competitors aiming to join the market with their ultra-thin laptops.

Toshiba have recently unveiled their new offering, the Portege Z830. The stylish laptop has a brush metal effect and is, you guessed it, ultra-thin and extra light. At only 16mm deep and 1.11kg in weight, the Z830 is even lighter than the MacBook Air.

The 13.3-inch screen comes with a matte coating, helping to ease the effects of reflections, and there seems to be enough space between the keys on the keyboard to help avoid any typing mistakes.

The ultrabook includes three USB ports, HDMI and VGA outputs, card reader, audio sockets and an Ethernet port, and is aimed at users who want high speed, high performance, all in an ultra-portable package.

The company have kept tight-lipped on pricing, but have said it will be less than £1000 and should be available near the end of the year. Whether this will be low enough to compete against the MacBook Air we will have to see.

Specifications
Intel Core i7 processor
128GB SSD storage
6GB RAM
1.3MP webcam
Matte LED display

Fujitsu to be the first to run Windows Phone 7 “Mango”?

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Windows Mango

In April, Microsoft previewed the next major release of their mobile OS, Mango.

Microsoft are hoping the new release will bring together social media and communications, giving users the ultimate resource to multitask.

Mango is set to contain over 500 new features including:

  • Enhanced search
  • Improved web browsing
  • New ‘groups’ which allow for mass-messaging
  • Improved multitasking
  • Ability to import contacts from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Facebook face detection software (Quickly tag post to the web)
  • Built-in Facebook check-ins

Currently rumours are swirling that Fujitsu will release the first smartphone that runs the Mango platform, with the device said to be available in Japan from as early as next month.

For all those people who currently have a Windows 7 phone, the Mango update will be free of charge.

The Chromebook

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SamsungChromebook

Samsung have recently announced the arrival of the Series 5 Chromebook making it, along with Acer, one of the first to adopt this new technology.

The netbook will run Google’s very own Chrome OS and is completely cloud-based, meaning that everything you do will be stored in the cloud, including all the apps you use.

The device boasts an 8-second boot time, has no need for any security software, runs updates in the background and gives access to numerous apps.

As with most Samsung devices, the Chromebook is very well designed. Its clean lines and simplistic look are sure to grab people’s attention. The device is available in both white and silver.

Chrome keyboard

Don’t be expecting your standard keyboard on this netbook. Google have tweaked the original qwerty keyboard to include the most used keys on Chrome. The keys, which are positioned across the top include, new window, refresh, switch to next tab, back and full-screen mode, with a search key also replacing the caps lock key.

Breaking the market

Does the Samsung Chromebook have a place on the market when there are already so many tablets and netbooks already available? One thing that may put consumers off is the price. Retailing at around £349 the Chromebook comes in much higher than most other netbooks on the market; although this can be contributed to the higher specifications.

Shoppers may also be discouraged over the lack of support for apps such as Microsoft Office, iTunes, Photoshop and Skype. These types of apps cannot be directly accessed using the Chrome OS, and must be accessed instead through virtual desktops or remote servers. This could prove to be hard-sell to a lot of users with these constrictions.

Specs

Intel’s Atom N570 1.66Ghz Dual Core processor
Chrome OS
12.1-inch screen
2GB DDR3 memory
16 GB SSD
8.5 hour battery life (inc 5 hours of video play)
HD webcam

Pricing

The Samsung Chromebook is expected to arrive in the UK on 24th June, and will retail at £349 for the Wi-Fi version and £399 for the 3G model.

As with all tablets, you need to get yourself a data plan. The 3G-capable model will come with a SIM card that includes 3GB of free data; this must be used within three months.

Mobile operators Three are offering both daily pass and 30-day options. The daily pass will cost you £2.99 for 500MB of data, which will be reset at the end of each day. The 30-day passes are more flexible and cost 1GB (£10), 3GB (£15) or 7GB (£25).

Should you buy?

Even though this is one of the first Chromebooks to hit the market, the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is a good alternative to the more expensive iPad and MacBook Air devices.

The netbook is the ultimate ‘web-only’ device that brings together a total browser experience; the question is, are we ready? The lack of software support for the more mainstream applications may prove a problem for some, with the idea of having to connect to remote services possibly proving too much for novice users to understand.

Verdict? A fast and practical netbook that may be for the more ‘tech-savvy’.

Microsoft acquire Skype

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Microsoft and Skype Logos

Microsoft has purchased popular service Skype for $8.5 billion, making it the company’s most expensive acquisition to date.

Released in 2003, Skype allows people to keep in touch via free voice and video calls over the internet. The service has proved extremely popular, especially with people wanting to make long distance calls.

The eBay years

Ebay obtained Skype in 2005, for $3.1 billion. The acquisition was passed by former chief executive Meg Whitman, who had hopes of users communicating via the Skype software rather than using the more conventional method of email.
Unfortunately this didn’t work out the way she had hoped and things reached boiling point in 2008 as the turbulent relationship between the Skype founders and eBay continued to worsen.

After eBay admitted that they paid too much for the service, the company announced at the end of 2010 it had sold 70% of its shares for $2 billion.

Microsoft makes a move

On 10th May, it was confirmed that Microsoft had bought Skype for $8.5 billion. Facebook were not thought to be in the race for the popular purchase, but Google had tabled a $4.5 billion bid.

Skype makes its money from its premium service, but this year announced another net loss as it has done for the past four years, even as its sales quadrupled.

So did they pay too much? Most people would say yes, but Microsoft have defended their decision stating that it is not a lot higher than some publicly traded companies.

Will Microsoft make a better choice than eBay?

It is thought that Microsoft has plans to integrate Skype in to a number of their products including Xbox Live, Kinect, Outlook and Hotmail. This ultimately gives them a greater chance than eBay at succeeding; the company only had one plan for the product and when that didn’t work out they didn’t have a backup plan.

The acquisition means that Microsoft will now take over Skype’s 660 million strong customer base, with statistics showing that over 107 of these use the service at least once a month.

HP Pre 3

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HP Pre Three

According to HP the Pre 3 is a ‘mix of work and life’, but how does it match up to the hundreds of others on the market?

The mobile phone, which is expected to hit the UK shops in the summer, comes in a nice curved black design and offers a touchscreen and full qwerty slide-out keyboard.

So, how does it compare to its predecessor, the HP Palm Pre 2? Well to start off, the device itself is a lot bigger than the Pre 2. The touchscreen is 3.6-inches, making it larger than the 3.1-inch with the previous device; the processor is also higher, moving up from 1 GHz to 1.4 GHz.

As you would expect, the camera resolution has also took a step up from 3 megapixels to 5 megapixels, with an additional front-facing camera. The rear-facing camera can also double up as a HD camcorder which can shoot up to 720p. The Pre 3’s front facing camera, which the Pre 2 did not have, is great for video conferencing.

Now to the business side. The Pre 3 is aimed at the professional types, offering an alternative to the BlackBerry. The device allows you to easily connect with people using Microsoft Exchange, and also supports VPN, enabling you to access your network at any time.

On the software side, the Pre 3 offers full support for HTML5 and Adobe Flash Player 10.1.

The model comes in 8GB and 16GB, but the company have decided against a 32GB option, which may put some people off.

Specifications
HP webOS
3.58-inch multitouch screen with a vibrant 24-bit colour, 480×800 resolution WVGA display
Slide-out keyboard
Processor 1.4GHz
5-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash, HD (up to 720p) video recording, Front VGA
512mb RAM
8 or 16GB internal storage
Weight: 156 grams (5.5 ounces)

Apple – Ten billionth app downloaded

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Apple App Store

Since Apple opened up its App store on 10th July 2008, the amount of apps downloaded has continued to rise and on 22nd January 2011, the company announced that they had reached their landmark of ten billion downloads.

On the back of this, Apple revealed their most popular free apps of all time.

1. Facebook

It’s not a great surprise that Facebook heads up the list. The most popular social networking site of all time allows you to stay connected with friends and family. The website keeps a constant stream of statuses so you can see what everyone is up to and let them know what your doing.

2. Pandora

Pandora is a personalised radio station and it’s not hard to see why it has become so popular. All you have to do is type in the artist of your choice and a special ‘station’ is created. The station will play the artist you have chosen and more music like it.

3. Google Mobile App

Google is one of the biggest corporations in the world but what is the Google Mobile App? The app is all about searching for anything, anywhere. It allows users to search Google using their voice and location, for a number of product and services including movie times, news stories and directories.

4. Shazam

Don’t you hate it when you’re listening to a song on the radio and you don’t know the name of it? Fear not, Shazam was created for just this reason. Just turn on the app and place the phone by the speaker and within minutes, SHAZAM! you have the name of your track!

5. Movies by Flixster

Flixster is an app for all movie junkies allowing you to watch new trailers and view showtimes in your area, although the main point of the app is the review section. You can read critic reviews on all movies and even become a critic yourself, sharing movie ratings with all your friends.

6. The Weather Channel

The ultimate weather guide. Users are able to view full screen maps, extended forecasts, sever weather alerts and much more. If you feel like getting involved, you can also post pictures and videos of the weather in your current location too.

7. Google Earth

Explore your world using Google Earth. You can fly (not literally unfortunately) with the touch of a button and view numerous locations around the globe with a 3D option also available.

8. Bump

The Bump app is aimed at connecting people together. By ‘bumping’ two phones together you can easily share contact info, calendar events, pictures and even social networks.

9. Skype

It’s all about keeping in-touch with this much talked about app. You can call friends and family around the globe for free (yes free!) with the option of video calls available. It’s not hard to see why this app has become as popular as it has on all platforms.

10. Paper Toss

A simple game, yet such an addictive one. Me, along with millions of others, have been caught up in the world of Paper Toss. The premise of the game is to ‘toss’ some scrunched up paper in to a bin from different positions, gaining you points. Now I know what you’re thinking, but give it a go. You will see why its one of the most downloaded apps of all time.

It is a well known fact that getting your apps in the Apple store can be quite a task. The company has strict guidelines to wish developers must follow, which has meant many apps have been denied. But if your app is accepted, get ready to be a small fish in a big pond!

Google aims to put a stop to web spam

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google-logo

We’ve all heard of email spam, but what is web spam?

Users have recently hit back at Google over their lack of action against web spam and low-quality content that is ranking high on the search.

Although spam on the popular search engine is half of what it was five years ago, the company have acknowledged that in the past few months they have seen a rise.

Google are now hitting back at the critics saying they plan to stop those who think they can cheat their way into higher positions in search results.

How do people ‘web spam’?

Web spam involves a number of methods used to push a website to the top of the search engines. Some of the most popular forms of Spamdexing are:
 

Keyword stuffing – Adding as many keywords within a webpage as possible.

Hidden or invisible – Unrelated text is added to the background of a web page using a small or coloured font.

Repeating unrelated phrases – Manipulating the relevance of resources by repeating popular phrases.

 

How is Google going to solve this problem?

Matt Cutts, Software Engineer had the following to say on Google’s official blog, “Data from search logs is one tool we use to fight webspam and return cleaner and more relevant results. Logs data such as IP address and cookie information make it possible to create and use metrics that measure the different aspects of our search quality (such as index size and coverage, results “freshness,” and spam).”

He continued, “The new classifier is better at detecting spam on individual web pages, e.g, repeated spammy words – the sort of phrases you tend to see in junky, automated, self-promoting blog comments”.

A lot of users have also made a dig at the company who they accuse of ignoring spam sites that contain Google ads, another accusation which was refuted by Matt Cutts, “Google absolutely takes action on sites that violate our quality guidelines regardless of whether they have ads powered by Google”.

LG Optimus 7 – Windows 7 Phone

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LG Optimus

Another week, another phone… But this time things are a little different.

Microsoft has just announced the UK launch of their first set of Windows 7 phones with the LG Optimus 7 model being at the forefront.

Microsoft and LG have combined to produce a user-friendly handset offering a 3.8 inches screen with 800×480 pixels display, making it good for picture viewing and general web browsing.

The start screen contains ‘live tiles’, allowing users easy access to services and applications from it’s six hubs which include: People, Pictures, Games, Music Video and Marketplace Office.

ScanSearch
A really cool feature on the phone is a little bit of software called ScanSearch. ScanSearch, which is already available on the iPhone, is an augmented reality application designed to show to real-time information as you view areas with your camera.

Features

  • A 5MP camera which offers a Panoramic Mode, allowing you to combine together a full 360-degree landscape image
  • The voice-to-text is a handy feature which allows voice to text transcribing for Facebook and Twitter updates, emails and even memos
  • Access to Microsoft services including Xbox LIVE and Zune
  • 720p HD video, recording and playback in great quality
  • 16GB of internal memory

This isn’t the only Windows 7 phone though as HTC and Samsung both announced their own handsets at the Microsoft press conference.

ESET NOD32

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nod32-300x256

You’re infected! There’s something you never want to hear.

There is one antivirus that stands out above them all and that we continually recommend to all our clients to protect their systems.

ESET NOD32 is rapidly becoming one of the best selling anti-virus software solutions available, with its effective protection and advanced features. The software itself is simple to install, although the administrator console could prove a bit overwhelming for first time users.

Not having missed a In-the-Wild virus since 1998, NOD32 Antivirus proactively detects and eliminates more viruses, trojans, worms, adware, spyware, phishing, root kits and other internet threats than any program available.

NOD32 has proven to be one of the best performing anti-virus software on the market with both its home and business versions; and now with the addition of smartphone protection, it’s sure to give it a foothold in the market for a long time.

Anti-Virus for Smartphones
As application markets are growing, so are the risks of attacks and exploits. ESET Mobile Antivirus has low CPU, memory usage and minimal updates so as to save data bandwidth usage. All email attachments and other file transfers will also be protected

How does it compare?
Symantec, BitDefender, McFee, Kaspersky, TrendMicro, Panda and AVG are the other products currently on the market.

System Usage
Unlike Symantec, which seems to take over your system, NOD32 only has a small footprint and does not take up much system resources.

In-the-Wild Virus
Compared to ESET’s record of no wild infections, the other seven antivirus vendors range from a small amount of missed viruses, to hundreds; the worst being AVG.

ESET NOD32 is an all round antivirus with a proven track record in the market and it’s rate of virus capture can’t be compared.

Internet usage

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Internet Address Bar

There are 1.8 billion internet users in the world, but what countries have the highest web usage?
Top 10 countries

China – 420.0m
United States – 234.4m
Japan – 99.1m
India – 81.0m
Brazil – 72.0m
Germany – 65.1m
Russia – 59.7m
United Kingdom – 51.4m
France – 44.6m
Nigeria – 44.0m

Some facts…

  • The top 10 countries on the Internet have a combined total of 1.17 billion Internet users. That’s 65% of all Internet users in the world.
  • There are 32 countries with more than 10 million Internet users.
  • India is the fourth largest country in terms of Internet users, despite only having an Internet penetration of 6.9%. This is due to its huge population.
  • China takes the top spot both in terms of population and Internet users. China has almost twice as many Internet users as the United States.

What countries have potential growth?

Below are the countries with the best growth potential in the top 10. With each country so vast, each has the potential for major growth within the next few years.

China 1,330.1m people – 420.0m internet users
India 1,173.1m people – 81.0m internet users
Brazil 198.7m people – 72.0m internet users