Straight from the Manufacturer – Part Two

Hitachi, peerless, kyocera
Last week, we put together a list of the latest products, including new and exciting releases off the back of our manufacturer training event for the BT Business Direct Sales Team. If you got excited about what you read in Part One, you might be even more excited about the list below.
  • Wasp – Probably the most visually attractive stand of the day – the Wasp rep had a number of barcode scanner and printers on display, the latest in the range is a barcode reader that reads both 1D and 2D barcodes on computer monitors and mobile phones.
  • Hitachi – Introducing their new interactive LCD projector we were really impressed with the easy to use and relatively inexpensive alternative to a whiteboard. The iPJ-AW250N incorporates a built-in sensor that uses infrared and ultrasonic waves that, when integrated together with the Starboard software, facilitates the interactive capabilities.
  • Peerless – A lesser known brand at BT Business Direct – Peerless were showcasing their comprehensive range of AV mounts. They had solutions designed for education, hospitality and the corporate office. We were impressed by the PRG Precision Gear projector mount which had two adjustment controls for tilt and roll image alignment, making it really easy  to adjust by hand, eliminating the need for adjustment by a costly engineer.
  • Kyocera – Very enthusiastic about their green credentials, Kyocera were explaining that their products are unique because they’re built using long-life components. So for example most print cartridges contain the majority of the print engine, meaning that when the toner runs out you have to replace all of these parts too, incurring both environmental and monetary costs. With Kyocera the print engine parts (drum, fusers etc) are built in so you don’t have to replace them every time the toner runs out, you only replace the toner.
  • Cisco – Demonstrating their office in a box unified communication solution – the UC500, an affordable unified communications appliance that provides voice, data, voicemail, automated attendant, video, security, and wireless capabilities while integrating with existing desktop applications such as calendar, email, and customer relationship management (CRM) programs.
  • LG – Definitely had one of the most exciting products that we have seen this year so far with the worlds first scanner mouse. This cool new product works like a normal mouse until you click a small button on the side and it turns into an excellent hand held scanner. What makes this product truly brilliant is when you’ve used the convenient scanner function to, for example, scan a spreadsheet that you haven’t got an electronic copy of, the image pops up on the screen, then there’s a clever button that you can drag onto an open excel window and it will import all of the data into a new fully editable spreadsheet.
  • Epson – showcasing their new projector range for 2011 and in particular  highlighting the 3LCD technology which gives brighter, more natural images, even in daylight meaning that you can use the projector easily, even with the lights on.
  • Epson, NEC, Optoma

  • NEC – Another company really focusing on the green agenda, NEC were telling us about their latest projector eco developments, including an eco mode function that reduces the energy requirement of the projector and a “vacation switch” to ensure 0 Watts power take when not in use.
  • Optoma – Demonstrating one of their 3D projectors and explaining some of the key business applications particularly for architects, designers and engineers, who can now create and develop ideas and eliminate the need for costly prototypes and models  as these crucial stages can now be realised using 3D simulations.
  • Crucial – Introducing their fastest solid state drive to date, the Crucial m4 SSD delivers faster boot and application load times for mobile and desktop users. Various technologies combine to dramatically improve data transfers for bandwidth demanding applications.


Google +: Is this the future of social networking?

Google plusUnless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you know that the hottest topic in the tech space at the moment is Google +.  But all of this buzz has left people asking, what exactly is it?

The Answer? This is Google’s new social networking experience, which aims to “make sharing on the web feel like sharing in real life”. Its key features include Circles, where you can see what all the different people in your life are sharing with you, Hangouts, a way to hold group conversations, and Sparks, which lets you find content on your hobbies and interests from across the web. It also includes mini features such as Instant Upload, which uploads photos and videos automatically from your phone to a private album on Google +.  Users the have the option to publicly share them with their different circles and without any hassle. In addition, Huddle turns all of your different text conversations into one group chat so you can get everyone onto the same page (literally). This makes deciding on group dinner plans via text a quick and painless process for those involved.

All of these great new features have left many people wondering if Google+ can take on the phenomenal success of Facebook, and the response from the tech community has already been positive. In his blog on ZDNet, Jason Hiner has been singing the service’s praises. And despite this only being a ‘small field trial’, some sources are predicting that user numbers will hit 10 million in the next week.

We’ve been playing around with Google + ourselves and have found it simple to use, quickly building up pools of friends and contacts that naturally fit into groups. Our only concern is that having yet another way to communicate online could get confusing. And with all the other social networking services we’re already using, how are we going to find time to interact in the real world?

From a business perspective, there’s already been excitement about what the service will be able to offer. TechWorld believes it could be ‘significantly more compelling’ for small business than Facebook.  But for now Google is asking users not to create business profiles. It is planning to roll out a business version of the service further down the line, which we’re looking forward to trying out ourselves.

Are you on Google+ yet? What have your experiences been?



It’s a Tablet World

Back in February, we wrote a post about the 2nd generation of tablet PCs where we highlighted a few key characteristics to look forward to with the upcoming tablet releases. We thought that with quite a few different devices out on the market, now would be a good time to do a tablet round-up of those that are available (Galaxy Tab 10.1 is an exception).

HP TouchPadHP TouchPad: This HP tablet runs on HP’s mobile operating system, webOS which divides your tasks up into a series of windows that you can flick between using the touch screen. There is no limit to the number of windows that you can have open, which enables users to easily work on multiple windows at once.

The tablet has a 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB of RAM. The 9.7-inch display has a 1,024×768 resolution and HP are using IPS panel to improve the viewing angles.

The battery is listed on the spec sheet with a 6300 mAh rating, but there’s no mention of how long it will last.

 

Pros:

  • Powerful specifications
  • Supports Flash
  • Unique multi-tasking service
  • Seamless movement between windows

To read our full review of the TouchPad, please click here.

 

Asus tabletAsus Transformer: This Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet is a viable and low-cost alternative to the Xoom and other Honeycomb tablets and comes with a 10.1-inch multitouch IPS display (1280×800) and NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor.

The Asus Transformer keyboard dock transforms the tablet into a netbook and adds value for business users but is not necessary for regular tablet tasks as the Honeycomb is not meant for keyboard and cursor navigation. Consumers have reported that the track pad is not always spot on and requires users to click on either the extreme right or left to generate a right or left click.

When docked the Asus has an average battery life of 14 hours, with eight and half when used on its own.

 

Pros:

  • Affordable and powerful Honeycomb tablet
  • Keyboard features full sized USB and SD
  • Effective office applications

 

Acer tabletAcer Iconia: This portable Acer tablet runs on Android OS 3.0, which is focused on giving the user information via customizable widgets for services such as YouTube and Facebook. It allows the user to get up to date data feeds at a glance, but does require more user involvement when setting up the home screens. Apple’s iOS has a simpler user interface for those looking for a less customisable experience.

The tablet has a dual-core 1GHZ Tegra 2 which makes Android very responsive. It has one gigabyte of DDR3 memory that further improves performance. It is able to load up HD videos with ease as well as play the most resource intensive games found on the Android market.

The Acer Iconia has great battery life with eight hours of HD video playback or ten hours of web browsing between changes.

Pros:

  • Micro SD slot allows you to easily increase memory
  • USB Port makes transferring files easier
  • Android Honeycomb is more customisable than Apple iOS
  • Google applications such as Gmail and YouTube have excellent integration and sync easily
  • Screen resolution of 1280×800
  • Two cameras (rear with LED flash and front facing)
  • Solid build quality
  • High sound quality
  • More cost effective than the iPad

 

apple tabletiPad2: This successor to the popular iPad is thinner, faster, and includes two cameras; however the size, price, capacity and features all carry over from the first model. It has a 1GHz dual-core A5 CPU with 512MB of RAM. There are 16GB,32GB, and 64GB storage options and runs iOS 4.3. As before, the iPad2 has both WiFi and 3G models.

While the simplicity of the iPad2 is popular it does have drawbacks when it comes to swapping between two apps that are running at the same time, emailing (copy and pasting from another app) or just simply viewing two windows side-by-side. This can become a very frustrating process on this tablet, unlike the HP TouchPad which has effective multi-tasking capabilities. The iPad2 does not support Flash, which can make viewing certain websites a pain.

The iPad2 boasts a ten hour battery life.  

 

Pros:

  • Thinner and lighter than ever
  • A large number of applications and games available
  • Front and rear cameras
  • Simple interface that does not require keyboard or mouse

 

motorola tabletMotorola Xoom: An early-adopter of the Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system. The Xoom has a dual core Tegra 2 processor form NVIDIA, with 1GHz. It has a standard, well recognised tablet design, but it is slightly thicker and heavier than most of its direct competitors.

With a slightly wider format (1280×800 WXGA 160dpi resolution) the touch screen is responsive and supports good viewing angles. The screen is perfect for good quality HD video viewing making the screen a main feature of this tablet.

The Xoom claims to offer ten hours of battery life when surfing over WiFi, but consumers have found this number to be slightly less.

 

Pros:

  • Fast and responsive
  • Tabbed web browser with Flash Player Support
  • Easy to share videos and other files with your computer

 

Viewsonic tabletViewsonic Viewpad: The tablet is responsive and easy to use with the simple layout of Android and the familiarity of Windows. While this tablet is a chunkier than the iPad2, it is light enough to comfortably hold in one hand.

The dual-booting nature of the ViewPad 10 is one of the few standout features of this new tablet; the other is the use of the Intel Atom N455 processor. The specs include a 15GB SSd, 1.3 webcam and 1GB of memory, all housed beneath a 10-inch, capacitive multi-touch panel with a widescreen at 1,024×600 resolution.

The Viewsonic is not 3G supported and only runs Android 1.6 with a mere six hours of battery life for average use.

 

Pros:

  • Novel dual-boot system
  • Two USB ports and video out
  • MicroSD option
  • Windows OS runs quickly

Samsung tabletSamsung Galaxy (Tab 10.1 yet to be released): This Samsung tablet has a front-facing camera for video calls and offers impressive data speeds and good call quality with Android 3.0 . Other highlights include a rich and vibrant Super AMOLED touch screen (1,024×600 pixel resolution) and a 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording.

Made out of plastic, the tablet is very light and easy to hold in one hand. The ARM Cortex A8 processor with a speed of 1GHz can easily manage all processes that are running on this tablet, and viewing multimedia content goes smoothly with no hang-ups. The only thing that slows it down is browsing sites that have heavy elements of Flash.

Four hours of constant, heavy usage over 3G – Google Talk, browsing, YouTube – only knocked battery life down by 40 percent. Controls for WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS into the Android notification shade make it convenient to turn these features off, stretching battery life further.

 

Pros:

  • Very fast with multitasking support
  • TouchWiz user interface – an application store made for Samsung devices
  • Complete with third-party applications and official Android Market
  • Half the weight of the iPad
  • Supports Flash

We would love to hear your feedback on any of the devices mentioned above or any of those that we have missed this time around. What features are the most important to you? What are the most valuable for business?