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Mobile Phone Review Round Up: HTC Salsa, HTC ChaCha, HTC Sensation, LG Optimus 3D

Pocket-Lint.com

HTC Salsa review

Verdict

So let’s get to the nitty-gritty. What is the HTC Salsa – is it a Facebook phone? It is if you want it to be, but then Facebook isn’t exactly alien to the Android world. There isn’t anything here that you can’t do elsewhere. Putting it against the INQ Cloud Touch, the other current “Facebook phone”, is a little unfair.

The Salsa is a higher spec device, offers a better Android experience reflecting HTC’s experience with these types of devices, but the Facebook experience is less cohesive than INQ’s. The INQ Cloud Touch manages to feel unique, whereas the Facebook experience on the HTC Salsa feels familiar, only fractionally removed from their existing features, so it all looks and feels like the adaption of HTC Sense that it is.

But that said the HTC Salsa is a great Android smartphone, a good example of how great the Android experience can be on a mid-range affordable device. It isn’t going to compete on the multimedia front with its bigger brothers, but in the core Android experience it responds well. We prefer it to the HTC Wildfire S, it offers more power and a few interesting tweaks that give you a little more to play with.

We’re not sold on the weird split colouring on the back panel, but otherwise, whether you’re a Facebook fan or not, the HTC Salsa is a great little phone.

 

HTC ChaCha review

Verdict

When thinking of the HTC ChaCha, it’s worth setting the “Facebook phone” elements to one side. The ChaCha is a more important device than just Facebook and if the button was removed, you’d still have all those features anyway.

You get all the benefits of that connected Android experience, tying into your Google accounts and filling your phone with your contacts, email and calendars. HTC Sense has been sensibly scaled to fit onto this phone and that all works well, but we can’t help feeling that something is lost in the experience. If you have seen Android on larger devices then visually you miss-out with the ChaCha. Android might look cute, but you’ll find yourself struggling for space at times.

But that might be a sacrifice worth making if you crave a proper keyboard. We have a few problems with the keyboard, but none of them are critical. Annoying yes, but it’s still usable. Side-by-side with a BlackBerry and we prefer the keyboard on our Bold and the use of screen space, although much more basic visually, often means that you see a little more of what you are doing.

For those looking to venture into something a little different their BlackBerry then it has a lot of offer. However, the touchscreen experience offered by it’s sister handset the HTC Salsa is difficult to ignore, resulting in a richer experience with the benefit of a much better mobile internet experience.

 

Techradar.com

Vodafone Smart review


Verdict

If the Vodafone Smart proves anything it proves one thing, it’s that we were oh so right to sing the praises of the Orange San Francisco.

Yes, it’s £29 more, but the difference between £70 for the Vodafone Smart and £99 for Orange’s little lovely is all the difference in the world. Pay the extra and you won’t regret it.

The budget smartphone market is set to become a really fierce battleground in the coming months, so once you’ve broken the £120 price barrier we’re starting to see some really nice handsets indeed for the cash.

While the Vodafone Smart is alright-ish for the money, unless you’re desperate for a back-up Android phone we’d recommend you save up for a month or two more and take a look at something like the Samsung Galaxy Ace too

 

HTC Sensation review

Verdict

Whether it’s just that we’re getting spoilt by the quality of the HTC range or that the brand simply can’t innovate at the electric pace it managed when it made Android smartphones good enough for the masses, the HTC Sensation doesn’t get our pulses racing like other models in its range have.

HTC Watch needs to a larger range of movies and TV shows before we can even begin to assess whether it’s going to take off or not – and the price seems a little high at this early stage.

We love the Sense UI still, and the ‘Unlock Ring’ is a cool addition to the party – we still want the notifications to be more interactive, but overall it’s still a neat idea.

The design of the phone is different and, in our eyes, pretty premium with the metallic feel and steel grill – the weight feels solid in the hand and the screen size is impressive and sharp.

It’s still not one of HTC’s best, but one we’d definitely recommend over a number of other phones in the marketplace and if you’re an HTC fan or just looking to get one of the cutting-edge dual core devices, we suggest you seriously think about the HTC Sensation.

 

HTC ChaCha review

Verdict

The ChaCha is not a revolutionary device. Yes, the Facebook button is new and a few of the elements in there are premiered here but ultimately, it’s an evolution, not a revolution.

Having said that, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You know what you’re getting here – a stable OS with an extra skin on top that has proven to be more than competent. And for the 14-21 year-olds who have their eye on this ‘Facebook phone’, it’ll be enough.

The price certainly is closer to the budget end of the scale, which we really like, and the quirkiness of the phone makes it a real breath of fresh air in a sea of indentikit black-slab touchscreens.

However, with the cramped screen it feels like the HTC ChaCha is a one trick pony at times – get bored of the Facebook integration and you’ll probably start casting envious glances at your friends’ whizzbang phones and thinking ‘do I really love having a keyboard?’

When you turn the ChaCha on, you’re greeted with HTC’s logo and slogan: “Quietly Brilliant”. There’s certainly nothing quiet about the ChaCha – and while ‘brilliant’ may be pushing just a little, it’s certainly not far off for the Facebook generation

 

Cnet.co.uk

Vodafone Emporia RL1 review


Conclusion

No camera, no Internet, no touchscreen — the Emporia RL1′s specifications read like something from the depths of mobile history. Don’t expect a pay as you go handset to challenge the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Mini and Orange San Francisco -– the RL1 has been designed to please elderly consumers rather than young gadget fiends. We can’t help feeling the relatively high price tag is slightly exploitative, making too much of the phone’s simplicity.

Still, if you favour usability over functionality, this could be your dream handset. But if you feel you’re able to master something a little more demanding, explore some of the other budget options out there, such as the Motorola Gleam or Sony Ericsson Cedar.

 

HTC Salsa review

Conclusion

The HTC Salsa offers decent power, impressive battery life and a good screen, as well as handy Facebook features. If you’re after a Facebook-focused phone, we reckon the Salsa’s a better bet than the HTC ChaCha and INQ Cloud Touch. Even if you abhor social networking and shun status updates, that friendly blue button is easy enough to ignore when the rest of the package is so appealing.

 

Samsung Solid Immerse review

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Conclusion

The Samsung Solid Immerse is well hard, but it’s let down by its disappointing software, a dismal camera and lacklustre battery life. If you’re deadly serious about acquiring a phone that you can depend on when Mother Nature turns nasty, we’d recommend the Motorola Defy. Should your budget not stretch to a smart phone, the Solid Immerse is a worthy contender — just make sure it’s fully charged before you go for a long walk in the hills alone.

 

Trusted Reviews

HTC Salsa Review

Verdict

The HTC Salsa may be a smaller, budget device, with Facebook at its core but it’s actually a surprisingly grown up smartphone. It’s smartly styled, speedy in operation, packed full of features, and can get you to Facebook nirvana quicker than you can say toasted Tortilla. Whether your desire for Facebook fripperies is strong enough to overcome the slightly high price is more of a personal preference issue but if you do like the idea then it’s very well executed.

 

HTC Sensation review

Verdict

The HTC Sensation is a frustrating device. Why? Because it comes so close to perfection but doesn’t quite manage it. The high resolution screen is great but the quality of it lets it down a tad, some of the software tweaks are great but yet video support is poor, and while the performance is amazing, battery life isn’t so much. Nonetheless, if battery life proves to be better once usage has settled down then the screen quality issue is certainly something we can overlook as the rest of the device is so delightful. It’s beautifully made and styled, it’s incredibly fast, the camera’s good, and call quality isn’t half bad either. All told, despite a few niggles, it’s definitely up there with the best dual-core smartphones.

 

Reghardware

Motorola Atrix dual-core Android smartphone

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Verdict

The Motorola Atrix may look standard at first glance, but a feast of features, along with those accessories, offer hidden depths. Whether this mobile gadgetry will set the tone for future, more powerful smartphones remains to be seen. But as far as roadmaps go, Motorola has certainly taken an interesting turn.

 

LG Optimus 3D dual core Android smartphone

LG3D

Verdict

The stand-out feature, obviously, is the gimmick that is 3D and it’s very well-executed. And yet the LG Optimus 3D has a lot more going for it, thanks to a great screen, easy connectivity for video playback on a flatscreen TV and a fast dual-core processor. Lest we forget that whopping 4.3in screen means this is a big phone: if you’re one of those people who finds the iPhone largish, this one is a behemoth in comparison. Get it in your hand before you buy – anyway, you’ll want to check the 3D out first, too. If the size suits you, this is a highly attractive phone.

 

HTC Sensation dual core Android smartphone

Verdict

Another quality handset from HTC and this is the hero of the bunch, with a fast dual core processor, the latest Sense user interface goodies, Android 2.3 and, for once, the company manages to build a half-decent camera.

UK Leads the World in Mobile Phone Recycling


Around 8 million mobile phones were recycled in the UK in 2009 according to a Ovum, which is double the number that was recycled two years ago.

According to the report the UK is the most developed and competitive handset recycling market in the world, with over a quarter of recycled phones in Eurpoe coming from the UK (Ovum).

The report also says that while UK consumers are increasingly aware of the opportunities to recycle phones, the focus tends to be on financial rewards, rather than environmental benefits.

Nevertheless, phones chucked in the rubbish not only add to landfill – they contain many harmful substances and complex parts that make them hazardous if not disposed of properly.


Whatever your reason for getting rid of your old phone though – be sure to check out Omio’s section dedicated to recycling your mobile phone, which lists the different services available to you.

Course: Mobile Business

Top 10 Mobile Phone Stories Of 2009 – Omio Round Up

As journalists run out of steam across the land, it’s time for top 10 lists of everything!

Whilst we have stopped short of doing a top 10 list of the best top 10s from other sites (although it’s still top of our ‘ideas’ pile), we have rather decided to round up some of the best mobile phone tales from the last twelve months.

Some are funny, others heartwarming, but all are quite literally mobile phone related in some way, shape or form. Hold on for an exciting ride!

1. Nokia N97 mini leaked early…by Vodafone forum?!

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We loves us some mobile phone leakage here on Omio, where grainy pictures of unannounced phones and whispers from anonymous tipsters get our hearts racing on a daily basis.

However, when the diminutive pseudo-sequel to the Nokia N97 was unwittingly revealed by a Vodafone Ireland forum moderator of all people, we were beside ourselves!

Loose-lipped ‘Ev from Vodafone’ claimed that the network was holding off on snapping up the N97, instead opting for the attractively priced Nokia N97 Mini…which was unannounced at the time. Uh-oh!

Not only that, but he also revealed that Vodafone was not getting the Palm Pre (which ended up an O2 exclusive), and the arrival of the equally nebulous (at the time) BlackBerry Storm 2. This was back in June, months before either handset had seen the light of day…

Overzealous official mouthpieces privy to sensitive information – more of them please!

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2. Palm Pre released in US and UK.

palm-pre1What many believed to be the first legitimate competition for the iPhone launched this year, with smart phone manufacturer Palm planning an ascension into the ranks with the sleek and sexy Pre, which went into stores this June.

Network spokesman Mark Elliott told The New York Times that neither Sprint nor Palm not only didn’t expect long lines for the Pre at its 1,100 stores, neither did they want them.

There may not have been queues round the block or tech geeks whipped into a frenzy by the Pre’s relatively muted launch, but critical acclaim was significant.

The Palm Pre sold steadily thanks to its appealing form factor, an intuitive user interface, and the addition of a full QWERTY keyboard offering the choice of touch and physical typing – one over the iPhone!

Arriving as an O2 exclusive in the UK might have done the curvaceous device as much harm and good, jostling for shelf space in the same shop that Apple’s iPhone was dominating made it a tough choice for consumers…

Still, it was a great phone, and a sign that iPhone’s lead was not unassailable. Sure, if you look at the facts then the Pre sold a mere 50,000 on it’s launch weekend against the 3GS’ one million plus – but what are you, the FBI?

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3. Google Phone becomes a reality.

google-phone-coryobrien-twitterRumour has it that every time a mega-corporation does the exact opposite of what they state in official channels, a PR executive gets their wings.

With almost two years of constant chatter reinforcing the fact that Google would not be making a handset (given so many other manufacturers are on board with Android and are members of the Open Handset Alliance), the last thing we expected was a phone completely of their own.

Which they promptly went and did.

The Google Nexus One takes the Android name to a new level with a clever Blade Runner reference, tapping up HTC’s extensive mobile knowledge to build a handset that will showcase their operating system to its fullest.

Features are rumoured to include a super-fast processor, 3.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen display, 3D-graphics chip, Wi-Fi and a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash.

One thing is clear – this iPhone botherer means business.

What of the other companies that adopted Android to their bosom? A freshly resurrected Motorola will be shaken when Google gets into the hardware game, as they are staunch supporters relying on the Android technology for the DEXT and Droid/Milestone.

If Google’s Nexus One outspecs and undercuts offerings from phone manufacturers that were friends just five minutes ago, the Android landscape in 2010 might not be as lush and verdant for everyone as first thought…

Still, we’re waiting on Google for an official word (apparently a January launch is likely) and the Nexus One looks pretty awesome, so let battle commence!

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4. Apple iPhone 3GS.

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Apparently a new iPhone came out at some point this year. July, we think. It was pretty good.

It also sold a million units in three days.

Apple have changed the mobile phone hardware, software and developer landscape forever with the iPhone, and the 3GS simply continues to stretch the lead.

With more powerful performance, an improved camera, video recording capabilities and voice control, Apple got away with simply tweaking brilliance rather than reinventing the wheel.

If you think apps are silly and pointless, you may be right. But this advert for some of the winter warmers in the App Store will make non-iPhone owners mistletoe green with envy.

2009 also marked the end of 18 months of O2 exclusivity enabling Orange, Vodafone and Tesco Mobile owners to get in on the iPhone action. Even more customers than ever will get their chance to bow down at the Altar of Apple come January…

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5. Nokia N900 changes the game.

Nokia_N900_38_lowresThis device almost slipped by us due to the choice of an entirely different operating system – Linux-based Maemo as opposed to the stalwart Symbian platform – as well as frequent protestations from Nokia that it was a computer rather than a mobile phone, which is (sort of) true.

Nevertheless, the Nokia N900 is the most exciting device to come out of Espoo for years.

Leaving S60 behind and opting for Maemo for their flagship phones makes the N900 a marked departure, finally offering a real contender to the swipe-happy mobiles other manufacturers have been wheeling out for some time.

The Nokia N900′s design credentials are far more in line with their internet tablet range, an solidly built slider with a 3-row QWERTY keyboard and little by way of flash and glamour…at least on the surface.

The mechanism is simple, and the 5-megapixel camera is almost identical in both feature and form to their current offering on the Nokia N97, but a lot of the N900′s grunt is below the surface…

The N900 bears all of the hallmarks of a Nokia device dragged willingly into the 21st Century with a cool minimalist interface, and awesome visual flourishes like overlaying current menu options whilst ‘frosting’ the screen behind.

Eschewing the shortcomings whilst evoking the spirit of S60, Maemo offers menu options in a structured fashion without the need for scrolling through a myriad of options, all selections are visible in a clear and concise fashion.

The ‘secret’ weapon in the N900′s armoury, however, is the Mozilla browser. For the those unfamiliar with the sub-category of internet tablets, the slickest mobile browsing experience they would have had is likely to be Safari on the iPhone. We certainly can’t knock it as the kinetic scrolling, the functionality and rendering speed on Apple’s device are all top notch.

This, however, is on another level. The size of the screen and speed of connectivity thanks to both Wi-Fi and HSDPA 3G means the Nokia N900 deals with this capably, but the full Flash 9.4 support and smooth scrolling on that native landscape display quickly reminds that you have never seen desktop-quality browsing on a mobile, until now.

If the Nokia N900 is any indication of the Finnish manufacturer’s intentions to recapture market share in 2010, we are on board.

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6. March of the Androids.

androidAndroid completed its transition from smart phone operating system to, well, any phone operating system this year, with a bevy of low-cost handsets that made the most of the online connectivity Google’s platform has to offer.

The HTC Tattoo went all old-school Nokia with changeable covers and extreme customisation, whilst the T-Mobile Pulse gave Android a once-over and came up with a novel user interface.

The Samsung Galaxy proved the Korean manufacturer was making its first tentative steps into the fray, whilst Motorola (see below) jumped in with both feet into Android’s open (source) waters.

With Sony Ericsson pinning their smartphone hopes on the XPERIA X10 next year, a host of new handsets from favourite son HTC and Google throwing their own hat into the ring with the Nexus One, it’s safe to say that Android has forced the competition to up their operating system game.

Thankfully they are doing, as Nokia promises a revamped Symbian interface and Samsung are showing off their new app-friendly ‘bada’ platform. As consumers expect more from their phones at every price point, manufacturers are being forced to meet those demands.

Arguably, it was Android’s availablility in the prepay sector and in the sub-£100 mobile phone category that has forced this.

Kudos to Google, but we are yet to see what their end-game is…sink Windows Mobile, perhaps?

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7. Hello again, Moto!

motorola_milestone1Just as we thought we’d seen the end of the American phone maker, Motorola bounces back with two great handsets powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Flying headlong into this new platform with great aplomb paid off handsomely as the Motorola Dext became part of the social networking zeitgeist, with the ability to tweet and update to your heart’s content, directly from the phone’s home screen.

The DROID (known to answer to ‘Milestone‘ in Europe, depending on who’s asking…) was the heavy hitter in Moto’s ’09 arsenal, a hulking monolith of black, gold and touchscreen testosterone.

Combined with a refreshingly aggressive anti-iPhone stance and the latest build of Google’s OS under the hood, the DROID turned heads, was well received by the press and sold pretty handsomely.

As an aside, check out the difference in adverts for the DROID in the US compared to those for our refined European sensibilities…

Whilst currently available SIM-free in the UK from eXpansys, we wait with baited breath to see what the carriers make of Moto’s phone with a cardiac muscle hewn from Fort Knox bullion…

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8. T-Mobile merges with Orange to create mobile network super group.

A few months on, and we still cannot fathom the enormity of the merger between T-Mobile and Orange.

With German firm Deutsche Telekom effectively offloading their UK arm to Orange’s owner France Telecom, this is set to create a carrier with almost 29 million customers and generating over £8 billion in sales.

This is a big deal.

Imagine Nintendo buying Sega (well, the old Sega), and you get some idea of the scale of what’s going on between the two corporations. Although, seeing Mario and Sonic on the same game box today still turns my stomach.

With changes remaining superficial at present, the ramifications of the shift will become apparent when the merger’s ‘efficiencies’ come into play…

More Orange stores popping up, price changes due to decreased competition – the UK mobile phone landscape is bound to change significantly as time goes on.

How it affects consumers currently residing on these networks remains to be seen.

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9. HTC Hero takes home the silverware.

htc_hero_3Winner of Phone of the Year awards from both Mobile Choice and Pocket-Lint, Gadget of the Year according to Stuff Magazine and an Editor’s Choice plaudit from CNET UK.

The HTC Hero took the Android operating system, buffed it up to a sheen, performing hardware miracles all the while.

Presenting itself as a customisable, connected and indie alternative to the white earbud brigade, the HTC Hero was the perfect handset to epitomise the iPhone backlash.

Distinctive without aping Apple’s operating system at every turn, fun and functional with both Microsoft Exchange and Twitter support, and with a host of applications to download from the Android Market, the Hero was the perfect antidote to the touchscreen ennui that was beginning to pervade the market.

Unique in terms of design too, the Hero managed to be cool, and build its own niche in HTC’s soon-to-be burgeoning range of successful handsets.

All eyes are now on the ‘HTC Bravo,’ a smartphone sequel rumoured for a Q2 2010 launch, said to continue the Hero’s Google alliance but married to the HD2′s expansive display and minimalist looks.

A recipe for a winner we say. Time to clear the mantlepiece for some ’10 awards, perhaps?

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10. Omio tariff comparison.

Had to sneak in some Omio product placement somewhere!

If you haven’t noticed, Omio now has tariff data for all 500,000 + deals, meaning if you’re looking for unlimited data, text deals or some decent cross-network minute offers, you’re now able to sort through and find them easier than ever before.

It’s small, but significant changes like these that make us the number one mobile phone comparison website!



Mobile Phones | Best Mobile Phone Deals Compared | Omio UK

As 2009 comes to a close, we thought it a good time to pore over some of the best mobile phones to be released over the past year.

From super-hot smartphones to fashionable feature handsets, join us as we select the few that stood head and shoulders above the rest!

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HTC Hero

The strong design, slick social networking skills and beautiful implementation of the Android operating system with the ‘Sense’ UI has seen the HTC Hero snag an armful of ‘Best Phone’ awards this year, and rightly so.

Packing a 5-megapixel autofocus camera, 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen and GPS in a unique, angular form factor, the Hero is possibly the best phone to demonstrate what Google’s new operating system is really capable of.

Winning the hearts and minds of those not swayed by the iPhone, the Hero is easily the next best thing.

Check out the latest HTC Hero deals!

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HTC-HD2

HTC HD2

Representing Windows Mobile as the Hero has for Android, the ‘wow’ factor of the HTC HD2 is definitely marrying Microsoft’s mobile operating system to that mammoth 4.3-inch touchscreen display.

Bringing the smooth, refined Sense user interface as well as the first phone to offer multi-touch on Windows Mobile 6.5, the HTC HD2 is equally at home being a business device as it is a multimedia powerhouse.

With a 5-megapixel lens and dual-LED flash, GPS and support for apps thanks to Marketplace for Mobile, the HD2 is the perfect poster boy for the next generation of Windows phones.

Check out the latest HTC HD2 deals here!

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iphone3gs

Apple iPhone 3GS

Getting the design so right first time has given Apple the ability to reiterate rather than revolutionise, and the iPhone 3GS is the second update to the groundbreaking formula.

Expanding on the iconic device with a 3 megapixel camera, video recording, voice controls and up to 32GB of storage, the Apple iPhone 3GS is able to do it all, faster.

View the latest iPhone deals here!

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Samsung Genio Touch

The Samsung Genio Touch continues the popular range with a cheap and cheerful handset that brings touch screen joy without the price tag.

The 2.8-inch display offers the same TouchWiz user interface spotted on higher end devices, and with customizable covers as well as a 2 megapixel camera, the Genio Touch punches above its weight in terms of both looks and specs and has customers snapping it up in droves.

Check out the cheapest Samsung Genio Touch deals here!

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Sony Ericsson Satio

A 12.1 megapixel wielding device that combines the strongest features of the Cybershot range, the Sony Ericsson Satio compliments them with the latest Walkman functionality, wrapping them together with a slick full touch Symbian powered user interface.

The 3.5″ display is clear, crisp and responsive to the touch, and the built-in 3G connectivity and GPS set it amongst the strongest smartphone contenders.

Strong advertising and an arresting form factor have seen the Satio fly off the shelves in the last few weeks, and showing little sign of slowing down.

Check out the latest Satio deals here!

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Palm Pre

Already a million-seller in the United States, the Palm Pre is a well-kitted device with a 3.1-inch touchscreen and 3.1 megapixel camera, a socially savvy handset that pulls contact information to be automatically from networking sites including Facebook.

The combination of cute pebble-shaped design, slide-out QWERTY keyboard and the debut of their smooth new ‘Web OS’ user interface has been snapped by many shoppers looking for a worthy alternative to Apple’s iPhone.

View the best Palm Pre deals here!

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Nokia 5800 XpressMusic

The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is the epitome of cool by committee. With a plectrum for a stylus, endorsement from today’s fashionable young things and a full touch interface, the 5800 was bound to be a hit.

A music phone at heart, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic ticks all the specs boxes with 3G connectivity, Wi-Fi support, a 3.2 megapixel camera and a hefty 3.2-inch high resolution touch display.

Your music selection is handled by an 8GB memory card, and a 3.5mm audio jack means that your favourite headphones can be plugged in with little trouble.

Outselling the iPod at one point as the UK’s biggest music player, the 5800 is one hot handset.

Check out the latest Nokia 5800 XpressMusic deals here!

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Nokia N900

A late entry for the new flagship phone from Nokia, as the N900 just makes it to stores in time to be a late Xmas present.

Taking cues from Nokia’s range of internet tablets, the N900 delivers a close-to-desktop browsing experience, as well as offering cutting edge smart phone functionality.

The N900’s gorgeous 3.5″ touchscreen, slide-out QWERTY keyboard and 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens all impress, but it is the brand new experience that Nokia’s Linux-based Maemo platform offers that has early adopters in a frenzy.

Take a look at the latest Nokia N900 deals here!

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LG Chocolate BL40

The latest in LG’s exclusive Black Label series, the BL40 boasts a 4″ LED touch screen, a 5-megapixel autofocus camera and an exciting new user interface.

Watch movies without the borders and browse web pages in all their horizontal glory, thanks to the screen’s unique 21:9 widescreen ratio, also giving the Chocolate BL40 an tasty form factor.

The quirky shape and multimedia credentials have definitely given shoppers a sweet tooth in recent months, with the Chocolate selling strongly since its September release.

Check out the latest LG Chocolate BL40 deals here!

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Blackberry Curve 8520

Courting the casual user and breaking taboos seem to be the primary aims of the Curve 8520, getting rid of the famous trackball and replacing it with optical pad, and also becoming the first to have BlackBerry dedicated media buttons.

The Curve 8520 is still very much a messaging device, sporting the familiar QWERTY keyboard and e-mail functionality that the Blackberry brand has become famous for.

With additions like BlackBerry App World and a headphone jack to appeal to feature phone fans, the Curve 8520 strikes the perfect balance of fashion accessory and connected device.

Check out our BlackBerry Curve 8520 deals!


Sony Ericsson Satio vs. Samsung Omnia 2 Comparison : Mobile Phone Face Off!

This week has seen a raft of new handsets flood the market, from Windows phones to budget blowers and everything in between.

However, Samsung’s Omnia 2 handset seems to fly the flag for Windows Mobile 6.5, equipped with a touchscreen interface and sleek form factor to lure smart phone converts. How does it weigh up against Sony Ericsson’s Satio, a Symbian-powered masterpiece that promises the total package? Let’s find out!

Size:

Both the Satio and Omnia are on the big side, as all that technical gubbins has to go somewhere!

Samsung’s device is a significantly larger in both width and height, with Sony’s Satio 6mm shorter, 4.6mm narrower but 2.1mm thicker than the smart phone sequel.

If size is a factor then the Satio is a shade smaller, but both would cause a bit of a bulge in the pocket.

Winner: Sony Ericsson Satio

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Weight:

Neither handset is stick thin, nor are they light as a feather. The Satio may weigh a substantial 126g, but the Samsung tips the scales at an even heftier 129g.

Winner: Sony Ericsson Satio

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Screen:

Ah, so this is why the Omnia is so big! A 3.7″ AMOLED resistive screen on the Omnia 2 makes up much of the phone’s real estate, dwarfing the Satio’s 3.5″ display.

It may be a higher resolution at 480 x 800 pixels versus the Satio’s 360 x 640 display, but the Omnia only shows 65,000 colours against the vibrant 16 million on Sony’s device.

The combination of a larger screen size and higher resolution gives the Omnia 2 the slight edge this round.

Winner: Samsung Omnia 2

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Camera:

Sony Ericsson’s Cybershot credentials are the multimedia phone’s strongest suit, with the Satio packing a 12 megapixel lens with xenon flash, geo-tagging, touch focus and smile detection.

The Omnia 2′s 5 megapixel affair is decent, with mobile blogging available in addition to the Satio’s features, but the image resolution pales in comparison to the professional effort on the rear of the Sony Ericsson’s powerhouse.

Both phones handle video, with the Omnia upgrade recording 30 frames per second at D1 whilst the Satio has a second LED flash for moving images.

The Sony Ericsson Satio has one of the best cameras in the mobile market, soundly beating the Omnia 2′s sophomoric effort. The Pixon12 definitely is the pick of Samsung’s litter as far as taking photos is concerned.

Winner: Sony Ericsson Satio

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Battery:

The battery life on the Satio and Omnia 2 are both very powerful to handle the suite of multimedia features, and run an impressive length on a single charge.

The Satio might have an impressive battery life of almost 5 hours 3G talktime and 340 hours standby, but the Samsung Omnia 2 thrashes it with an epic 10 hours and 430 hours of standby time.

Winner: Samsung Omnia 2

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Memory:

Both are ready for boosting the stock memory in both devices, with Sony Ericsson finally seeing sense and allowing for microSD support.

Just as well as the Satio’s meagre 128MB of internal memory needs a boost to make the most of that camera, not to mention showing movies on the near-HD screen. Thankfully the Satio has an 8GB memory card out of the box.

The Omnia 2, however, has a in-built storage of between 2 and 16GB depending on the model, with an extra potential 32GB with the card slot.

Winner: Samsung Omnia 2

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Connectivity:

Both are top-flight smart phones, with the expected raft of features like GPS, Wi-Fi, and 3G connectivity present and correct.

The Omnia supplements the Windows internet browser with the popular Opera, whilst the Satio is equipped with Google Maps to improve the GPS functionality.

A close one.

Winner: Draw

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Media:

First and foremost, there is no 3.5mm headphone jack on the Satio. WHY?!

The best multimedia phone from Sony Ericsson in ages, and they hobble it with such a strange omission. An even stranger decision considering the W995 did have one.

The wide array of supported video and audio formats, availability of apps with the Windows Marketplace for Mobile and Samsung Application Store and 3D interactive games see the Samsung Omnia 2 entirely dominate this category.

Despite a dedicated graphics chip, the lack of an app store and the omission of a 3.5mm audio jack see the Sony Ericsson Satio falter on a very important point.

Winner: Samsung Omnia 2

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Verdict:

The sheer all round strength of the Omnia 2 in so many departments makes it a tough phone to beat.

The combination of Windows Mobile’s versatility with Samsung’s strong handset feature list makes the Omnia 2 one of the best phones on the market.

The Sony Ericsson Satio is an impressive camera phone, but fails to tick a few of the boxes that one might have assumed as a necessity in this high-end price bracket.

The lack of an audio jack and a dedicated application store will be absences that will only continue to grate more as time goes on.

HTC Hero vs. Apple iPhone 3GS – The Ultimate Smartphone Comparison!

There’s only one thing in a smartphone fan’s mind when they are presented with the latest slick and sexy device from another manufacturer – “is it as good as the iPhone”?

For once the immediate reaction isn’t a fawning apology but a long pause, as the Android powered HTC Hero finally brings that combination of decent hardware and an appealing user interface to offer a genuine alternative to the fruity behemoth.

So…which is better, the revolutionary HTC Hero or the evolutionary Apple iPhone 3GS? Let’s take a gander, shall we?

This is a category where we will have to focus more on the form factor than anything else… The iPhone 3GS is taller and wider but shallower, but none of this matters unless you are happy with the ‘chin’ on the HTC Hero.

The bottom quarter of the device juts out at a 40 degree angle, presumably to both protect the device’s screen when placed face down, as well as fit more ergonomically to the face when using it. This portion is separate from the rest of the device, acting as a home to the trackball, a number of buttons for receiving and ending calls, and a shortcut to Google Search.

This striking look, far more pronounced that the slight protrusion found on the HTC Magic, has really divided opinion on whether the Hero is an unconventional beauty, or a stylistic step too far. Even a teflon coated model cannot offset the disdain many have for the Hero’s looks.

No such difference of opinion on the unanimously gorgeous iPhone 3GS. Unless it is white. Like mine.

Winner: iPhone 3GS (by default)

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Weight:

Exactly the same, both tipping the scales at 135g.

Winner: Draw

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Screen:

The underdog comes out swinging with a multi-touch capacitive touchscreen that can at least equal the iPhone 3GS in terms of clarity and responsiveness, whist both have auto-rotate capabilities.

Unfortunately, the 3GS responds with a screen of 3.5″ (against the Hero’s admirable 3.2″), and a 16 million colour display as opposed to the 65,000 colour HTC effort.

The trackball supplements the touch control method for the Hero, but the anti-oil coating and scratch resistant display of the 3GS cements the lead.

Winner: iPhone 3GS

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Camera:

A strong effort from the HTC Hero, a 5 megapixel effort with autofocus sets a benchmark that the 3GS cannot compete with, thanks to a 3.15 megapixel affair. It isn’t all about numbers, and the richness of the 3GS’ screen offsets the lower image quality before uploading the pics to a computer.

The 3GS has a manual touch focus solution which is less assured than the Hero’s effort, but both are docked points for lacking a flash. The video recording and editing functionality at 30fps in VGA drags the 3GS up to a draw, but the clearer image quality steals a march and earns the Hero a hard-fought round.

Winner: HTC Hero

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Battery:

One round the iPhone 3GS is bound to lose is on battery life. The handset is a veritable gas-guzzler, and even with Apple proclaiming vast improvements in longevity, the 3GS’ 300 hours of standby and 5 of 3G talktime pale in comparison to the 7 hours talktime and 440 hours standby of the HTC Hero.

Winner: HTC Hero

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Memory:

The fixed memory of the iPhone 3GS at 16/32 GB is leagues ahead of the HTC Hero as standard, but that microSD slot allows for as much as 32GB of swappable storage. The flexibility of being able to switch memory up on the move makes this another win for the HTC Hero.

Winner: HTC Hero

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Connectivity:

This is a far more contentious round than previously fought, and the chance for the HTC Hero’s customised Android ‘Sense’ interface to really shine.This interface evokes many aspects of the iPhone’s user experience, but presents them in a new and often improved way.

Both devices support the usual suite of text, e-mail and instant messaging software, but the Hero’s ability to run applications in the background allow them to run as intended. A single swipe brings up a constantly updating Twitter feed, allowing users to keep abreast of trending topics without firing up a dedicated app.

The ‘Scenes’ profile switcher allows pertinent applications, options and even the layout to change according to time of day or situation. A ‘work’ profile might be home to a world clock, stocks and business site links, whilst a ‘home’ profile might have footy score tickers, a more cool clock and a less suitable ringtone.

All of these can be changed at will, or set to switch at clocking off time, giving two mobile experiences in a single device.

Basic stats are very similar, with fast 3G data speeds and wi-fi holding up, as well as Bluetooth.

Both have GPS with an in-built digital compass, making them more accurate than ever before, as well as applications to turn them into fully-fledged sat-navs for the road.

The iPhone’s often peerless Safari web browser experience even finds a match in the Hero, as multi-touch is supported with Google’s mobile Chrome, and even takes the lead with Flash support for embedded videos and media…one thing there isn’t currently an app for!

Tough to suggest a winner, but the fact that there is another handset on the market that even holds a candle to Apple’s finest speaks volumes!

Winner: Draw

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Media:

In the format wars, the Hero takes a valuable scalp in the amount of different formats that can be played back. Supporting MP3, AAC, WAV and WMA9 audio, as well as MP4, H.263, H.264 and WMV9 video, HTC’s device is robust and also has a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The iPhone’s media experience is nicer as the iPod credentials shine through with shake to shuffle and voice control, but then does not support the breadth of media offered by the Hero. What it does do, however, is handle TV out, whilst iTunes is a media management resource like no other.

Apple’s App Store with thousands of games, applications and productivity software makes the Android Market look a little amateurish in comparison. There are some fantastic Android apps to be found, but the lack of quality wares on display is palpable when searching.

Nothing touches the App Store at the moment, and with DS-bothering games on the iPhone whilst Android languishes with tarted up Java games, the 3GS takes this round.

Winner: iPhone 3GS

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Verdict

The iPhone is a known entity to almost everyone at this moment, you know some smug friend in the pub constantly showing you their apps, or continually trying to prove how terrible your current phone is in comparison.

The HTC Hero is the antidote. It is different in entirely new ways, is fun and appealing to use, and the looks will certainly draw some heated debate. One thing that is for sure, the HTC Hero is a good enough smartphone in its own right to be considered an alternative to the iPhone 3GS, which is no mean feat.

Android has been caroused into a beautiful and intuitive interface by HTC, based on their great work on Windows Mobile with TouchFLO, and the Hero more than holds up in terms of specs.

Apples are not the only fruit as far as smartphones go…

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Looking for a price? Check out our latest HTC Hero deals and iPhone 3GS contracts on Omio.com!

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Sony Ericsson C905 vs. Sony Ericsson W995: Friday Faceoff!

Sony Ericsson might be finding it tough these days amongst the touchscreen divas, but there’s no mistaking that they have some top flight mobiles on their roster.

The two hero handsets from the Japanese/Swedish phone factory are both highly-specced, classy slider devices, but is the Cybershot mightier than the revamped Walkman?

We shall see, as we pitch the Sony Ericsson W995 against the Sony Ericsson C905 Plus (8GB) in a battle for feature phone supremacy!

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Size: Both handsets are designed in the familiar slider form factor that Sony Ericsson has become so attached to, with the W995 coming shorter and thinner than the C905 Plus, but with identical widths of 49mm. Both are friendly to the lining of a trouser pocket, with only the 20mm depth of the C905 raising an eyebrow.

All in all, a pretty even match.

Winner: Draw

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Weight: Here, the W995 shows that Sony Ericsson has managed to make some leaps in technical prowess, with the handset a full 23 grams lighter than the portly C905 Plus. Weighing in at 113g, the W995 is no supermodel, but no slouch either.

The C905 Plus could do with a bit of a workout as the 136 gram weight is reflected in the form factor, resulting in a bulkier and altogether more unwieldy device…

Winner: Sony Ericsson W995

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Screen: The large and clear 2.4″ screen of the C905 is only just bested by the 2.6″ display of the W995. Both have identical 240×320 resolutions, and have comfortably familiar Sony Ericsson interfaces. Both also have internal auto-rotate sensors for switching into landscape when camera opportunities present themselves. Another close round.

Winner: Draw

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Camera: Okay, this is the round where we would expect the dedicated Cybershot device to streak ahead, as the 8 megapixel lens of the C905 Plus is aided by a xenon flash and all manner of settings and features. Which it does.

The W995 manages to .1 up the C905 with an 8.1 MP lens, but only has an LED flash, which is inferior in many low light situations. The C905 Plus has a bevy of features including face and smile detection, geo-tagging and smart contrast for various lighting situations.

Video recording is a close run thing as both record at 30 frames per second (W995 at WQVGA and the C905 at QVGA),  but the W995 also has a camera for video-calls, whilst the C905 Plus does not.

The W995 has many, but not all of the dedicated Cybershot features the C905 Plus can offer, allowing it to take a slim lead.

Winner: Sony Ericsson C905 Plus

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Battery: Identical battery, identical battery life… Both give 4 hours of 2G chat and 9 hours of 3G, and 360 hours of 3G standby time. However, the C905 Plus is said to offer ten more hours of 2G standby, with 370 vs 380 hours. It’s all a bit moot, due to battery life differing on usage, so it is all a bit of a close-run thing, all told.

Winner: Draw

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Memory: Another one that goes right down the wire, as both get their storage from 8GB Memory Stick Micro M2 cards, included in the box. In terms of internal memory the difference is minuscule with a meagre 118 vs 160MB, and the C905 Plus winning out.

Winner: C905 Plus

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Connectivity:

Both handsets are pitched quite closely here – the W995 has a nice line in 3G with a faster connection than the C905, but both have the suite of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB settings that have fast become the norm.

Both have identical Netfront browsers for surfing the web, and both are equipped with GPS support, complete with Wayfinder Navigator software.

Close, but the faster 3G access means a nicer experience when out and about, so the W995 takes it!

Winner: Sony Ericsson W995

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Media:

Being a Walkman handset, the W995 shines in this department with a suite of features to make the most of being a phone for entertainment. Both play movies, but the larger (supplied) memory, screen and kickstand make the W995 a mobile movie theatre!

The video playback is crisp and clear, and dedicated playback for YouTube vids makes those viral clips travel even better.

Music is equally the W995′s strong suit, with Walkman 4.0 software shining through. Shake control skips tracks at the flick of a wrist, and SensMe can pick songs according to mood so you can always find the perfect soundtrack to your life.

The W995 does also have the dream of a 3.5mm headphone jack, whilst the C905 fights back with a TV-out socket, allowing videos from the phone to be shown on the big screen.

With the vast array of features, from dedicated media buttons to the streaming video service, the W995 is definitely the winner of this round.

Winner: Sony Ericsson W995

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Verdict

Well, it is the age old tale of horses for courses. Whilst the W995 makes huge steps in terms of Sony Ericsson giving you everything in one handset, it isn’t quite there in some elements of camera functionality.

If you like taking photos, the C905 Plus is certainly the one for you, but multimedia and games has found a new home in the Sony Ericsson W995. The choice is up to you!

We have a range of Sony Ericsson W995 deals starting from £4.89 per month, as well as decent selection of Sony Ericsson C905 Plus deals on Omio.


Resistive Vs. Capacitive Touchscreens, What’s The Difference?

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We’ve been subjected to a deluge of touch screen phones ever since the release of the iPhone, and whilst some provide a smooth and slick experience, others don’t always feel quite up to snuff.

That is because in reality, there are two different types of touchscreen technology that these phones take advantage of – resistive and capacitive.

Whilst capacitive touch screens offer a faster and more responsive experience, resistive touch screens tend to be cheaper to manufacture and have a greater degree of accuracy.

Also, resistive touch screens can also be used with a stylus, which is important for handwriting recognition and writing Asian characters, and arguably a major contributing factor to why capacitive touch phones like the iPhone haven’t gotten such a warm response in the East.

Windows phones have resistive touchscreens as standard, whilst high end devices from companies like LG and Samsung tend to be capacitive. The Windows Mobile operating system is currently unable to support the capacitive touch screen, but all that is set to change with Windows 7 on phones, and steps are being made toward this even on the forthcoming ’6.5′ update.

Resistive touchscreens are composed of several layers of plastic, and input is registered when two of these layers become joined by the external pressure of a finger or stylus, creating an electrical connection.

Capacitive touchscreens are traditionally a glass panel coated with a transparent conductive material. As the human body conducts electricity, any touch on the surface of the screen triggers the electric field and registers the location of the input. Capacitive touchscreens can more readily accept continuous input across the surface, and also track multiple fingers on a single display.

Haptic feedback, the reassuring vibration of menu or item selection, can be done on both resistive and capacitive touchscreens. Resistive touch screen phones include Windows-powered devices like the HTC Touch Diamond 2 and HTC Touch Pro 2.

Many of the latest smart phones, including ones powered by Android, have capacitive touchscreens including the Apple iPhone, T-Mobile G2 Touch, LG Arena, Samsung Pixon12 and the Sony Ericsson Satio.

What does the future of touch phones have in store? Well, the recently released Samsung Jet may have a resistive display, but relies on the internal processor to provide a super-responsive interface rivalling that of capacitive devices. Also, BlackBerry makers RIM have been working hard on a new hybrid interface that is the best of both worlds.

The outer of the two layers has a conductive coating, allowing both types of interaction through a single controller-integrated circuit. According to the company’s application, “the capacitive and resistive functions of the touchscreen do not interfere with each other”.

“Advantageously, a touch of the touchscreen display can be detected prior to contact with the touchscreen display,” the application continues. “Thus, a signal can be sent to the processor for providing a timely response when the touchscreen is touched. For example, a tactile feedback can be provided more quickly, providing a better user feel.”

So, a mobile device marrying the responsiveness of a capacitive interface with the accuracy and stylus support of a resistive touchscreen could well be around the corner…

Omio Round Up: Best Bluetooth Headsets

Despite the passage of many years and many leaps forward in technology, listening to music still requires us to be physically tethered to our players with headphones.

Phones have managed it, as have game controllers, but the allure of wired headphones has not seems to diminish one bit. Some manufacturers are even embracing this state of affairs, with companies Apple showing off their iconic white earphones in their cool promotional material.

Well, other manufacturers believe the future is already here, and with the power of Bluetooth connectivity are offering to free us of our aural shackles with wireless headphones. We compare two of the most popular Bluetooth headsets to see if we are ready to groove to the wireless beat.

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Sony Ericsson HBH-IS800 Bluetooth stereo headphones - £70

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The tiny, unassuming ear-canal fillers are close enough to traditional earphones not to scare Bluetooth virgins away. The two earphones jut out a little and feel a little heavy on first wear – hardly surprising given the amount of tech bundled in there.

The weight is due to the housing of the battery within the ear piece itself, removing a cover on the right earbud reveals a charging port. This enables the proprietary Sony Ericsson charger to be used, albeit in a slightly odd fashion with only half of the pins…

Nevertheless, a few hours on the mains and the IS800 is ready to rock. The subtle light on the earpiece glows green brightly to reassure you, with the only accompanying indication from an LED on the microphone placed halfway down the wire.

Holding down this central button sparks the IS800 into life, the light alternating red and green as it searches for a Bluetooth buddy to pair with. This takes fairly little time, and the auto-connecting with a compatible phone is even quicker as it eschews the need for a pairing passcode.

Once hooked up, the first big surprise is the audio! It genuinely manages to play stereo in almost lossless quality, but it admittedly dips with a fair amount of hiss when moving away from the source.

The wires are far more comfortable when worn behind the head, although it makes the speaker when using the IS800 as a headset for calls a bit far away from the mouth to remain clear.

Fellow commuters were convinced I had a serious crick in my neck as I craned to the left in order to make calls, but when connected the quality was clear as a bell.

All in all, the IS800 headphones are perfect for situations where wires leave one in a tangled mess on the floor, from the daily commute to a workout in the gym.

Touches like the carry case and ergonomic design make them a perfect fashion accessory to any Bluetooth-enabled device. The only setback is that the earbuds themselves feel somewhat heavy for long term use, and the slightly awkward location of the microphone.

Nevertheless, the HBH-IS800 gets a glowing recommendation from us, a perfect combination of stylish form and Bluetooth practicality!

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Altec Lansing BackBeat 906 wireless stereo headphones – £80

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With the power of wireless communications professionals Plantronics behind them, Altec Lansing seems set to cut a swathe through the wireless headset market, marrying bleeding-edge tech to slick designs.

Whilst a confident effort, the Altec Lansing Backbeat 906 may indeed be too utilitarian to appeal to culture vultures.

The Backbeat is similar to the IS800 in that it consists of two earphones with a connector that rests behind the head.

However, the BackBeat is a far more rigid construction, with each resting on the ear in a fashion not entirely dissimilar to wearing two tethered hearing aids, whilst the tips nestle gently, yet securely inside the canal.

This might sound uncomfortable, and in comparison to traditional earphones the additional weight may prove alien, but before long the value of the noise cancelling technology presents itself, tuning out background chatter and the sounds of the Underground effectively.

The only issue is that the connection between them is a tad too short, making them feel secure on the head but at the same time a little constricting.

The upside to these very visible aural accouterments is that a wealth of music control is at your fingertips on the outside of the BackBeat.

The left earpiece is home to a ‘call’ button as well as the power switch, whilst the right can play/pause, skip through tracks and adjust volume thanks to a multi-functional jog switch. The degree of rotation and adjustment of the earpieces themselves make them very comfortable to use as remote controls, but they still look a little too unwieldy to impress.

Stereo Bluetooth supported devices can sync happily with the 906, and if not there is a little black box supplied which provides connection to any gadgets with a 3.5mm port, iPod included. The range is ample, with the ability to stray at these the width of Omio Towers (10/15 metres) before a signal was lost.

The good news for the legions of iPhone owners is that the new update finally brings headphone support to wireless headsets like this, and the 906 is very impressive. When hooked to a mobile and the phone rings, the music cuts out and a beep notifies of the call.

The call quality was pretty impressive, but it seemed we could hear better than be heard, particularly outdoors… The AudioIQ volume-boosting feature came into its own in situations like this, making chatting away clear as a bell.

Nevertheless, even the more fancy features such as voice activated dialing and iPod control went off without a hitch on the BackBeat 906.

The seven hour battery life was pretty spot on, but we found it retained a charge when playing music far more than making a couple of wireless calls throughout the day. Either way, it shouldn’t let you down.

Whilst getting full marks for function, the BackBeat makes a few missteps in the style stakes to not be the definitive choice. The lack of an adjustable strap, the absence of a carry case and the slightly self-conscious design make it the perfect Bluetooth headset for use at the office, rather than one to show off with.

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Verdict

Each have their pluses and minuses when enjoying the world of music without wires, but the sheer range of features, Bluetooth dongle and almost pitch-perfect phone reception make the BackBeat stand out in our minds. The price difference is borne out with Altec Lansing offer in a rare case of substance over style, and it serves as a perfect accompaniment to the new 3GS, provided you aren’t a fashion victim.

Omio Round Up: Best RSS Readers For The iPhone

There are only so many moron quizzes, air-traffic control games and dubious flashlight apps to try out before it becomes apparent that the iPhone was destined for something more interesting and less banal.

If you want to keep up with the latest news and posts from every blog, magazine and newspaper on the planet, you’ll need an RSS reader. On the desktop, web-apps such as Google Reader, Netvibes and Bloglines lead the way.  But on the iPhone it’s a different story. And so, Omio set out on a quest to find the iPhone’s best RSS app.

It was harder than we expected. Much harder.

What we were looking for:

Easy feed import. We’re heavy users of RSS in the Omio office. My Netvibes page is home to 214 feeds which contain over 4000 articles between them. Any decent RSS app would have to provide a straightforward way of importing all those feeds. It’d also allow me to remove less important feeds, which I don’t want to read on the iPhone.

Article caching. What’s the point of having an on-the-go RSS reader if I can’t read the feeds when making the sweaty daily commute on the London Underground? Plus, it’d be great to have access to the accompanying pictures, not just the text.

Flexible feed organisation. The way that someone chooses to organise their feeds in Netvibes or Google Reader isn’t necessarily the same way they’d organise them on an iPhone. You might want a different folder structure, or even no folder structure at all. The app should allow feeds to be moved between folders, along with the creation and deletion of those folders.

Everyday Use. The app should download and update feeds quickly and be responsive to button presses. It should be easy to navigate between folders, feeds and articles. Articles should be clearly listed, previewed and displayed.

Byline

Phantom Fish – £2.99, download from iTunes App Store.

Byline is currently the most downloaded RSS reader in the App Store. Its popularity is probably attributable to its tight integration with Google Reader. Like most of the apps listed here, it will import feeds from Google Reader in a snap. But unlike the others, it remains totally synchronised with Google Reader as you use it. Items read in Byline appear read in Google Reader. Items starred in Byline appear starred in Google Reader. And so on. If you’re utterly wedded to Google Reader this is going to be manna from heaven. If you’re not, then it’s just plain annoying.

It’s annoying because a consequence of the Google Reader synchronisation is that nothing can be edited, added or removed inside Byline. It’s impossible to add new feeds, move feeds between folders or create new folders. Everything will appear exactly as you’ve configured it in Google Reader.

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Even worse, it’s not possible to just open up a single feed. Instead, the content of each folder is presented as a ‘river of news’. If you just want to check out the latest news from a specific feed then you’re out of luck. It’s difficult to overstate just how infuriating this is. To mitigate this issue, Byline places a button in the top-right corner (which looks confusingly like a refresh button). This reorders the presentation of stories inside the folder by feed. But if the feed you want is at the bottom of the page then too bad: you’ll just have to scroll all the way down to the bottom. It doesn’t even support favicons to speed-up feed identification inside the folder.

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It’s not all doom-and-gloom though. Byline competently caches all the articles for offline reading. It’ll also cache the images from starred items. Rather brilliantly (and in contrast to most of the other apps in this review), it resizes images so that they fit on the screen, avoiding the use of horizontal scrolling. It will open links inside the app without having to load Safari, refreshes feeds quickly and is responsive in use.

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Ultimately, your opinion of Byline will be determined by your relationship with Google Reader. If you want to replicate the desktop experience as closely as possible on your iPhone then Byline is the app for you. But if you want any flexibility with the organisation and display of your feeds, then you should go elsewhere.

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Feed Import: 5

Very fast, but restricted to Google Reader.

Article caching: 8

A competent implementation. Image caching raises it above the competition.

Flexible feed organisation: 0

No options at all. Everything is managed via Google Reader.

Everyday Use: 4

Feeds refresh quickly. The app remains responsive during refreshes. But… the enforced river-of-news presentation makes it cumbersome to actually use.

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Newsstand

OMZ Software – £2.99, download from iTunes App Store.

Newsstand is a competent RSS reader whose USP is its distinctive landscape viewing mode.

When the screen is rotated, the feeds are presented as a series of magazines on a shelf, which the user can flick through horizontally. It’s a interesting riff on Apple’s coverflow concept, but Newsstand takes it a stage further by presenting the feed contents in landscape split-screen. The left-side contains the index, while the right-side shows the currently selected article.

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It’s a unique way of displaying feeds, but it’s more interesting than effective. The problem is that there just isn’t enough space to read the article in the split-screen view. Only a fraction of the article can be displayed. And forget about trying to view pictures in such a small space. It comes across as a gimmick rather than a feature that would stand up to heavy use. Happily, it can be disabled.

Feed import options are excellent, with built-in support from Google Reader, Bloglines and OPML. Keep in mind that if you choose OPML, you’ll need to upload your OPML data to a URL as the iPhone doesn’t support access to local files.

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Regarding feed organisation, Newsstand does pretty much everything. It’s easy to create new folders and move feeds between them. Nested folders are supported too. A minor irritation is that moving several feeds from one folder into another is pretty laborious, but this is unlikely to be a common operation.

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In everyday use, Newsstand does an admirable job. Navigating between folders, feeds and articles is reasonably fast and straightforward. The presence of favicons makes it easy to identify the desired feed in a long list. Articles can be viewed on their original website without opening Safari.  One annoyance is that images are not resized, which can necessitate lots of horizontal scrolling. It’s surprising that so many apps have failed to implement an auto-resize feature.

Unread or flagged articles can optionally be displayed ‘river of news style’, although this tends to slow down the navigation if there are lots of unread articles.

Additional features include sharing with Twitter and Delicious, and display ‘themes’ which make (optionally) make Newsstand looks like a typewriter. It isn’t clear why someone would want to do this, but the option is there if you want it.

A great inclusion is concurrent feed downloads. This enables Newsstand to refresh up to 3 feeds simultaneously, which will save a lot of time if you’ve got a lot of subscriptions. However, it loses marks for the degree to which it slows down during feed refreshes, especially when it’s in landscape mode. It’s also slow to load: typically taking around 3 seconds to appear – even on the iPhone 3GS.

It also restricts each feed to a maximum of 50 items. This could be a frustrating restriction if you read blogs which publish a lot of articles.

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Feed Import: 8

Fast and more comprehensive than most of its rivals

Article caching: 6

Caches text but not images.

Flexible feed organisation: 8

Lots of options and very straightforward to use.

Everyday use: 7

Pretty competent if you forget about the gimmicky landscape mode. The Twitter sharing option will appeal to Twitter-holics.

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Reader – ATOM/RSS Feed Reader

Enormego – £1.79, download from iTunes App Store.

Frustrating. Very frustrating. This app has the potential for greatness: a well thought out UI; lots of flexibility in organising and viewing feeds and items; and excellent import options. But in practice, it’s slow, crash-prone and things just don’t work as they should. If the author could fix these problems (particularly the speed issues), Reader would immediately become our preferred RSS app. Instead it’ll sit on my iPhone unused and unloved.

The import options are particularly inviting with their support for Netvibes and My Yahoo! in addition to the eponymous Google Reader. In practice though, the Netvibes import crashed every time I tried to use it. Google Reader worked, but took a little longer than the other apps and the app appeared frozen for a while.

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Once the feeds are imported, the options for viewing, organising and sorting far outstrip any other app in this review. Even better, the UI is straightforward and intuitive. Feeds can be grouped into folders/categories, or sorted by date and name. It provides a great method for selecting favourite feeds (in addition to favourite items). Images are nicely resized. And there’s even a ‘river-of-news’ view for people who like that kind of thing. In short, it provides pretty much every type of RSS view imaginable. And it does so without making the UI feel cluttered.

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There are even a few features we haven’t seen on other apps. Each feed has its own configuration options, which, for example, enables a partial-feed to automatically open items on its full site. Although other apps allow specific items to be opened on the full site, they they don’t allow per-feed configuration so that it happens automatically. Lists of items can be striped to improve readability, and oversized favicons make it easier to spot the desired feed in a long list.

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Twitter and Instapaper integration are included too…

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But… the app falls apart whenever you try to do, well, pretty much anything. Nearly every button press results in a long wait during which it’s not clear whether the app has crashed or is just ‘thinking’. Sometimes, the app gets frozen on the current screen. Sometimes a lined white screen appears, with no items on it at all.

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It feels like the developer has put all his efforts into features, and paid no attention to performance or stability. Towards the end of writing this review, Reader got itself into a state where it would no longer open without crashing.

It’s a shame that Reader doesn’t live up to its potential. Nevertheless, it’s worth keeping an eye on this app. If the performance and stability issues can be resolved in a future release, it will be hands-down the best RSS reader on the iPhone.

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Feed Import: 3

Netvibes import doesn’t work. Google Reader import is slow.

Article caching: 6

Caches text but not images.

Flexible feed organisation: 10

As good as it gets. Every possible way of organising and displaying feeds.

Everyday use: 0

It just doesn’t work.

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Pro RSS

Simon Oualid – £1.19, download from iTunes App Store.

I can probably save you the bother of reading the rest of the review. If you don’t care about full synchronisation with Google Reader, then Pro RSS is the one to buy. It’s fast, it’s stable, there are decent folder options and it caches nicely – even images.

To be sure, it’s not the most exciting app. It doesn’t have the gimmickry of Newsstand, nor the options of Reader, and there’s no integration with Twitter or any social bookmarking services. Sometimes it’s almost too spartan: favicons are a serious omission.

But this can be forgiven for the way it just gets on with things. It starts up quickly. Feed import is the best we’ve seen, with support for Google Reader, Bloglines, Newsgator and OPML. Pro RSS cleverly sidesteps the iPhone’s difficulties with OPML files by providing a local IP address through which the user’s OPML file can be uploaded using a computer. This is a trick which the other RSS readers would do well to replicate.

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Pro RSS handily allows up to 5 feeds to be refreshed simultaneously, resulting in a serious time-saving if you’ve got lots of feeds. The app slows down a little though if many feeds are being refreshed in the background.

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Folders and feeds can be edited and re-ordered manually, but there are no sorting options. Items are cached by default, and images can be cached too via the ‘Load Image’ button. This is nice to see, and a great improvement over other apps which only allow image caching on a per-item basis (or not at all). Annoyingly though, images are not resized to fit the screen. Even more annoyingly, there is no landscape mode. So if the text is to small or the image won’t fit, you’re left to do a lot of scrolling.

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Finally, if you shake the phone, Pro RSS automatically switches to a full-screen view by hiding all the toolbars. A quick shake brings them back again. All-in-all, Pro RSS is a great app and Omio’s recommended RSS reader. There’s a even a free cut-down version available (called Free RSS) if you want to try-before-you-buy.

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Feed Import: 9

Lack of Netvibes import is the only thing which holds Pro RSS back from a perfect 10.

Article caching: 9

Caches text and images with aplomb.

Flexible feed organisation: 7

Pretty flexible. Not always as straightforward as it should be, but it does work.

Everyday use: 8

This is Omio’s recommended RSS reader for the iPhone.

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Manifesto

Mayor Justin – £1.19, download from iTunes App Store.

Another simple, stripped-back RSS reader. Manifesto lacks folder support, so if you read a lot of feeds you’ll probably need to look elsewhere. Nevertheless, for the casual user, Manifesto is a good option.

Feed import is restricted to Google Reader, but runs quickly. Favicons show up in the main list of feeds, but the absence of folders makes can make it tedious to reach the feed you want.

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Annoyingly, the feed view only contains the titles of each article. Unlike most other apps in this review, there is no preview of a couple of lines of the article.

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A persistent bug in Manifesto prevented the ‘cancel’ button from working in any of the pop-up menus. This was obviously very annoying and would put us off from using the app. Hopefully it’ll be fixed in the next release.

Manifesto claims ‘Quick flag’ and ‘Flip web’ as its standout features. In reality, ‘Quick flag’ is just another way of describing ‘starred’ or ‘favourite’ articles. And ‘Flip web’ just allows items to be opened in their original web page without opening the browser. Admittedly, ‘Flip web’ is accompanied by a nice animation, but neither of these features are anything special.

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Overall, Manifesto just doesn’t offer enough. It’s all very well trying to produce an app which cuts out the extraneous features and fripperies. But this app takes it one step too far. The absence of folders and article previews means that we can’t wholeheartedly recommend Manifesto.

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Feed Import: 5

Google Reader only.

Article caching: 7

Caches text. Images are cached in flagged articles.

Flexible feed organisation: 3

No folder support. No options to sort feeds.

Everyday use: 4

Missing too many features.

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Web Feeds

Tuomas Artman – £1.79, download from iTunes App Store

This is another simple RSS reader. Feed import is sadly limited to Google Reader but works very fast. In fact, speed is a major plus of this app. It’s super smooth. Even when refreshing multiple feeds, it never seems to slow down. It’s a trick which many of its competitors seem unable to manage.

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The look-and-feel of the UI is is very reminiscent of the iPhone’s built-in Mail app. If Apple decided to write their own RSS app, it would probably look very much like this.

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The UI is simple, but it’s also restrictive. The lack of folder support make this app unsuitable for people who read a lot of feeds. Favicons help a little, but clearly this app is most suited to light users.

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There’s no getting away from the fact that this app is feature-poor. There are no options for sorting or organising feeds and articles. It does include a somewhat odd function which enables the user to collect a bunch of articles and then send them in a single email. This feature seems a little unnecessary, but we haven’t seen it anywhere else.

Web Feeds is just ‘ok’. If you’re looking for a really simple reader, with a very Apple-y design to deal with just a handful of feeds, then this is the app for you. If you’re even slightly more demanding, then look elsewhere.

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Feed Import: 5

Google Reader only.

Article caching: 5

Text only.

Flexible feed organisation: 3

No folder support. No options to sort feeds.

Everyday use: 6

Picks up extra marks for the clean design and speed, but not good enough for heavy users.

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RSS Runner

Francois Goldgewicht – free, download from iTunes App Store.

RSS Runner is the only free app in this review. Unsurprisingly, its functionality is fairly basic, but no more so than some of the commercial offerings we looked at here. It even includes some uncommon (but desirable) features such as sorting feeds by title.

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The design of the UI isn’t especially pleasing. There’s an awkward contrast of blue and black buttons. And inexplicably, little clouds are used to illustrate the number of articles inside each feed.

Import of feeds from Google reader is quick. But there’s no support for other sites such as Netvibes.

There’s also no support for folders, so RSS Runner is plainly unsuitable for users who have lots of feeds. And the listing of articles inside the feed is poor, with heavily truncated titles and no preview text. Worse, the app crashed a few times while we were reviewing it.

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It’s not a galloping surprise that the developers aren’t charging for RSS Runner: it’s difficult to imagine who would pay for it. If you absolutely won’t hand over any cash for your RSS reader, try Free RSS instead (the cut-down version of Pro RSS)

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Feed Import: 5

Google Reader only.

Article caching: 5

Text only.

Flexible feed organisation: 3

No folder support. No options to sort feeds.

Everyday use: 1

Poor presentation and too few features. Try something else.

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There’s no doubt that RSS fiends are well catered for in the App Store. There are plenty of feed readers, and it’s clear that the price doesn’t always correlate to the quality of the app.

Here are Omio’s winners:

Best RSS app overall: Pro RSS

Best RSS app for Google Reader fans: Byline

One-to-Watch: Reader – ATOM/RSS Feed Reader