Personal technology

Chris Nuttall

Two Silicon Valley companies delivering thousands of entertainment channels over the internet have announced significant funding rounds and milestones for their services.

Roku, whose set-top box delivers more than 700 channels of movies, TV, music, radio and web content, has received $60m in a Series F round, while TuneIn, which gives access to more than 70,000 radio stations, has bagged $25m in Series C funding. Read more

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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Chris Nuttall

Things are looking up for Nokia in the US, a territory where it was unloved and unrepresented by operators not so long ago.

Now it has not one but two carriers touting its latest Windows smartphones, with Verizon launching the Lumia 928 this week and T-Mobile having its own exclusive with the 925, unveiled in London on Tuesday and available at a date to be announced in the US. Both represent advances on its signature Lumia 920 launched last year. Read more

Robert Cookson

What does Bitcoin have in common with 3D printing, besides both being technologies loved by geeks? On the face of it, not much: one is a digital currency and the other allows you to reproduce almost any small, solid object in the world.

But as lawmakers are starting to realise, there is a key similarity: both Bitcoin and 3D printing have the potential to reduce the power of the state and put it into the hands of individuals. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The Fitbit is no longer fiddly.

Its San Francisco-based maker has removed my chief problem with this useful health tracker – launching a Fitbit Flex version today that straps to my wrist rather than the USB-stick shaped predecessor that was always getting lost in one of my pockets. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The hearts of two health-tracking leaders are to beat as one, with Jawbone announcing this morning it has acquired BodyMedia, in a deal reportedly worth $110m.

Taking the best elements from both’s products would represent a combination only seen thus far in the sleep-monitored dreams of fitness fanatics. Jawbone’s Up bracelet and its app’s interface are beautifully designed but relatively light on meaningful information, while BodyMedia’s armband is ugly, but packing data-rich sensors. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Dysonics, makers of an immersive audio app that puts a virtual room inside your head in which to hear music better, has come up with an attachment for headphones that makes the experience of spacing and placing sounds even more realistic.

Rondo Motion is a thin, square device, about the size of a watch face, that can be easily strapped to the band on a headphone to give it motion-sensing capabilities. This means if you turn your head, the music doesn’t move with you, it stays in the same place in the “room”. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Leap Motion has announced a two-month delay to shipments of its long-anticipated gesture-based controller as it spends more time working on the software.

The San Francisco-based start-up said shipments for customers who had pre-ordered the device would now begin on July 22, rather than the May 13 date it announced in February. Prior to that, it had spoken of an “early 2013” ship date. Read more

Chris Nuttall

The Nest thermostat, designed by iPod creator Tony Fadell, is a fun way to turn your air conditioning system on and off, but it could soon be saving users serious money with its latest deals.

The Silicon Valley company says it is now working with leading US energy providers to reduce energy usage and consumers’ bills through its auto-adjustment of their home’s heating and cooling needs. Read more

Chris Nuttall

At a time when laptop makers are looking for ways to cut the price of ultrabooks to appeal to mass-market consumers, Toshiba has announced a new luxury line where no expense is being spared.

The Japanese company’s Kira brand makes its debut with the 13.3-in KIRAbook, available next month in versions costing from $1,600 to $2,000 in the US. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Logitech announced plans in January to sell its Harmony universal remote-control products division, as part of a strategic review that will see it focus more on PC, tablet and smartphone-related products.

But the Swiss company, which reported a disappointing $180m loss in its last quarter as PC-related sales slumped, is still coming out with new products, with two Harmony universal remotes announced today for the US and Europe. Read more

“Die, my dear doctor? That is the last thing I shall do.” — the last words of former British prime minister Lord Palmerston.

Of course, he never had to worry about leaving behind a Facebook profile, an email account, or other abandoned online haunts.

The question of what happens to our online real estate after we die is a sensitive subject, as people grow concerned that what gets left behind could be used illegally or, even worse, become a source of post-mortem embarrassment.

In an effort to address these issues, Google has rolled out “Inactive Account Manager”, which can be set up to delete an account, send messages, and even share data in the event of an untimely demise.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to turn Facebook into a “mobile first” company faced an important test on Thursday as the company unveiled what was expected to be its own mobile software platform: a version of the Android operating system that puts the social networking service front and centre.

But would it be enough to give Facebook a firmer foothold in a smartphone world increasingly dominated Apple, Google and Samsung?


Chris Nuttall

T430s, T431s – the notch up in model numbers between Lenovo’s last-generation T-series ThinkPad and the new one launched today is minimal, but the design decisions are dramatically different.

The T431s is the product of nine months of testing in nine countries with 900 users and the “clean sheet” design principles that have emerged will influence many more of Lenovo’s notebooks down the road. Read more

It sounded like hubris last week when Nick Hayek, chief executive of Swatch, dismissed out of hand the threat from a potential Apple “smartwatch”. Hadn’t he heard what happens to companies involved in areas of personal technology that come under attack from the creative geniuses of Cupertino, California?

Summoning up images of unwieldy internet watches dating back to Microsoft’s Spot watch of nearly a decade ago, Mr Hayek questioned whether “an interactive terminal on your wrist” would ever catch on. “Personally, I don’t believe this is the next revolution,” he was quoted as saying.

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Chris Nuttall

Dell has entered the portable All-in-One category with the XPS 18, featuring an 18.4in Full HD screen and up to five hours of battery life.

The XPS 18 is smaller and much lighter with longer battery life than Sony’s 12lb Vaio Tap 20 - the first machine in this new category – and Lenovo’s 27in IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC, which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics show in January. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony is rightly mounting a competition for a cuter name for the SRS-BTV5, first shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and available this month in black, white or pink for $70 (£55).

I like to roll this small audio ball of a wireless speaker in the palm of my hand and pet it like an executive toy, before tucking it away in its string bag for travelling. Read more

Chris Nuttall

TuneIn, the leading internet radio aggregator, is launching new features making it easier for listeners to find more of what they like among its more than 70,000 radio stations.

TuneIn Live is a new tiled interface on its website and featured in an updated iPad app launched today that surfaces favourite artists and programmes based on genres chosen by listeners. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Leap Motion has announced a ship date and retail price for its eagerly anticipated motion controller for PCs and Macs.

The sensor, the size of a pack of chewing gum, is shipping later than planned and at a higher price. It ships on May 13, when the previous launch date had been “early 2013”. It will cost $80 – $10 more than the previous pre-order price. Read more

Richard Waters

Google’s Chromebook laptops have always felt more like demonstrations of the art of the possible than products you necessarily want to use every day. What they do, they do spectacularly well: it’s just that they aren’t quite the finished article.

The new Chromebook Pixel lives up to that track record. Its high-definition screen is a gorgeous bright rectangle you can’t resist reaching out to stroke. But for most users, the love affair will still feel incomplete. Read more