Paul Taylor

I am the FT's personal technology columnist and this blog is about gadgets, gizmos, software and services. It is a place to ask personal technology related questions and hopefully get answers in plain English. It is also a home for short, sometimes sharp, reviews and observations about the personal tech industry. Comments and criticism are welcome. For a bit more on my background, see my columnist page.

Paul Taylor

How best to judge Microsoft’s next-generation tablet, the Surface Pro 3, which was unveiled by its new chief executive Satya Nadella at an event in New York on Tuesday?

One way would be to compare it to its previous incarnation, which received a more positive critical response for its improved features, but still did not really make a dent in the market share of Apple iOS or Android devices – Microsoft has recorded about $2.64bn in Surface sales so far. For comparison, Apple sold $7.6bn worth of iPads in the latest quarter alone.

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As Apple launches the iPad Air, rivals such as Samsung, Lenovo and Amazon are coming out with their own challengers. Even Nokia has joined the fray with its first tablet. With so much choice, there is increasingly a tablet for everyone.

Images of the U.S. variant of the Galaxy Note 10.1 for business life

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Paul Taylor

A new mobile service operator called ItsOn aims to shake up the US smartphone business by offering users the ability to tailor their voice, text and data plans precisely, and – perhaps most interestingly – buy data by the app.

The company’s Zact service – a play on the word ‘exact’ – operates as a cloud-based mobile virtual network operator, buying capacity on Sprint Nextel’s 4G/LTE network and reselling it to its own customers via a smartphone app or web page.

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Paul Taylor

The speculation will soon be over. After months of waiting, Sony is set to announce details of its next generation PlayStation 4 at an event in New York on Wednesday evening, setting the stage for the next round of the console wars.

The company is likely to emphasise the wrap-around software and overall “consumer experience”, rather than the “speeds and feeds” of the hardware itself – though these will no doubt be impressive. Read more

Slumping sales of PCs in the fourth quarter last year are further evidence of a structural shift in the PC market rather than simply a weak economy, say Gartner analysts.

Worldwide PC shipments totalled 90.3m units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 4.9 per cent decline from the fourth quarter of 2011 while PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell by 9.6 per cent, according to preliminary results from Gartner.

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Paul Taylor

Crowdfunding is by now a well established route for startups to raise the capital they need to develop, manufacture and market a new product.

But Olive Media, a seven-year-old San Francisco-based company whose high performance audio servers are a favourite among audiophiles, has adopted the crowdfunding model to launch the Olive ONE, which it claims is the first all-in-one high definition (HD) music player. Read more

iRobot Roomba 790

A decade after iRobot introduced its first Roomba vacuum cleaner, home robots not only sweep up dust but also clear gutters and cut grass. New designs launched this year have made the devices more useful than ever, but how do they compare with the traditional methods of getting the chores done?

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Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung Galaxy Note II
Rating: 5/5

I was dubious when Samsung launched the first Galaxy Note last year because it seemed to fit into neither the smartphone category nor the emerging tablet market. Its 5.3in screen was bigger than on most smartphones but it was only half the size of popular tablets. But then I began to appreciate its virtues, particularly the precision of the touchscreen and the electronic stylus (or “S Pen”), as well as the bigger screen for watching video or running navigation and other apps.

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Scottvest

Scottevest Fleece 7.0
Rating: 4/5

Last month Google Glass, the internet-connected headwear being developed by Google, made an appearance on the catwalk when Diane von Furstenberg incorporated the technology into her New York Fashion Week show.

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Paul Taylor

In an age when it is often a good idea to sit down before opening your monthly wireless invoice, FreedomPop is promising ‘bill shock’ of a different kind.

The US-based startup backed by by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstom and his venture capital firm Atomico, launched a potentially disruptive free wireless broadband service as a beta or trial service today. Read more