Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Where is the best place to look for cheap contract deals?

In the past we've never really had a great look at where to get the best deals. We've looked at the best way of getting a good deal with your current network when you're upgrading, but what about if you're going to enter the mobile contract world for the first time? Where do you look as a first time buyer into this massive growing industry?

Most people will go to the high street, they will check out the general network stores and see what the networks themselves offer. They will generally expect better prices by dealing with Vodafone, Orange, O2, T-Mobile and 3 directly. If you're a little bit inquisitive you will likely then check out offers from Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4 U. Somewhat unexpectedly these two stores can often better the deals offered directly by the network, they do this due to getting discounts from the networks.

Now whilst most customers will look at those as the only 2 avenues (direct from the network or from a 3rd party on the high street) there is in fact another, much better avenue and one that has more in common with companies like USwitch and CompareTheMarket.com. One of the major phone comparison websites is www.omio.com which, I've personally found to be the best.

An example of what I've found on Omnio:
HTC Sensation for £25 a month (handset comes free) with 500 MB of data, unlimited texts, 500 minutes with Orange

Directly with Orange for £25 a month with the phone you need to pay £199 up front and you only get 300 minutes and the texts (you need to pay more to add the data). In fact Orange offer NO contract directly where you get the handset (the HTC Sensation) free for under £30!

With Phones 4 U acting as the middle man you pay £27.50 a month with a free handset and get a slightly improved deal from the Omnio (700 minutes) thanks to a very generous special offer saving £7.50 a month.

With Carphone Warehouse their closest to the Omio deal is the same contract but for £30 a month and with a £69.99 charge up front for the phone.

As you can see there is a lot of discrepancies from place to place. Had it not been for the Phones 4 U offer the Omio deal would be the best by far...and in fact Omio SHOW the Phones 4 U deal anyway! See Omio is win win.

No matter what, I advise, strongly, looking on Omio before going anywhere for your next phone. Why go through a number of stores when you can do it by visiting just 1 site?

Monday, 29 August 2011

How to take Black and White Photos on a Samsung Galaxy S2

We all know that for some reason black and white photography is more "artsy". Whether it's emo's trying to look cool or a photographer trying to add an effect that always seems to look black and white is...the new colour. If you've a brand new Samsung Galaxy S2 taking photos in black and white is simple but brilliant.

Firstly you need to open up the Camera application and then open the settings for the camera (click on the cog icon in the bottom left corner). Inside the settings menu you need to find the option for "Effects" and then you're screen should look a little something like the one above. In the effects menu you need to select the "greyscale" option.

After selecting "greyscale" you'll notice the colour vanishes from the screen and you'll see images in "black and white". If you then take a photo you'll have taken a black and white photograph and seemed all intelligent and arty, just take a look at the two pictures below and admit the black and white one looks more "arty".

How to create a playlist on a Samsung Galaxy S2


 Although iPhone users may think iTunes is the only way to listen to music on a phone they are, as usual, not correct. Whilst iTunes is probably the best way, it's far from being the only way. One of the things that all music listeners like to be able to do is create play lists, whether it's something like "Music to relax" or "Romantic" or whatever it is they like to be able to just listen to a specific selection of tracks. It's not only iTunes that you can make playlists on.

To make one on the Samsung Galaxy S2 is incredibly simple and this guide will show you exactly how to do. Firstly open the default music player and then select the "Playlists" tab and press the phones menu button. This will leave you with a screen that looks like the one on the right hand side.
After selecting "Create" you will see a screen where you need to enter the name of the playlist and then you will see a screen like the one on the left with the name of the playlist at the top (in this case "Mash ups") and the option to "Add music". Click where it says "Add music".

After clicking on "Add music" you will see a be given a list of all your tracks allowing you to select the songs you want. As well as being given all your tracks you can select "Artists" or "Albums" from along the tabs at the top of the screen if you want to narrow down the lists. You need to select all the tracks you want (in this case a bunch of mash ups) and then press on "Add" at the bottom of the screen.
After pressing add and going back to the play lists you will see your new playlist added to the list. Remember you can make 100's of play lists so one for ever mood (or every occasion). A great use for this is to keep all your podcasts into a single list, or even keep a specific podcast list (for example a "Fighting Talk Podcast play list").

Whilst this is simple enough to do on iTunes, owners of Galaxy S2's needn't feel ashamed by their phones music player either.


Sunday, 28 August 2011

How to take a screen capture with an iPhone 4

Picture courtesy of Robert Nelson
from Flickr

Having already done guides on taking screen shots with the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Samsung Wave it seems only fair to do the same thing for the iPhone 4, the latest release of Apples hugely successful iPhone range. This is just as simple as it is with the 2 Samsung's I've just mentioned and again merely involves pressing 2 buttons on the screen you want to capture.

For the screenshot you need to press on both the "Home" and "Sleep" at the same time. Following this you should hear a the sound of the camera and then the screen capture will be taken.

To find the image you need to open up your pictures and it will be the most recent image in the Photo Roll.

The problems with an iPhone 4

Although the follow up the the iPhone 4 appears to be just around the corner the current phone still seems to be selling well and is still one of the best phones available despite being almost a year old. Apple have brought out the newest version of the iOS (iOS 5.0) and it seems inevitable that a phone will be following. Although much debate rages whether it will be a proper upgrade (i.e. iPhone 5) or a variation of the iPhone 4 (i.e. iPhone 4S or iPhone 4G) the current phone is the one we will focus on here.

The big issue was (and still is) the well known "death grip" that caused a lot of noise when the phone was first released. The "death grip" caused the signal (and as a result calls) to suddenly vanish due to the way users held the phone. Apple's unhelpful response was to tell users "You're holding it wrong" (which, understandable annoyed customers) and never actually got properly sorted.
The cause of the death grip was holding certain parts of the phone, almost in a natural position as you would do for a call and it did lead to huge negative press for the company. Despite the "death grip" the phone sold well and Apple even managed to fleece extra money from customers by selling them a "Bumper case" just to try and prevent the signal loss. Effectively they asked for more money to make their very expensive piece of kit work properly rather than took a financial hit themselves and recall the unit.
The bumper case did solve the problem pretty well, especially for Apple, though it wasn't the only problem with the phone, it was, by far, the most embarrassing.

The camera, on release was also a major issue. It ranged from the virtual shutter just shutting and staying shut to an innate ability to make white appear yellow in indoor pictures. Whilst these issues have, seemingly been fixed since the early releases some people have still had issues with the camera in the past few months so just be aware of this if you do fancy getting one. It is also worth noting that the main Camera is just a 5MP one, and this is below what seems to be the standard for top phones at the moment (expect this to be upgraded when the next release is available).

Whilst the phone is a cracking handset that makes full use of a wonderful OS and wonderful hardware the phone is starting to show signs of it's age (at last). As mentioned above the main camera is "only" 5MP (with the standard now set at 8MP) as well as just 512MB of RAM (this is on par with devices such as the HTC Wildfire S and the Samsung Galaxy S). If you are fancying getting an iPhone I'd strongly advise waiting to see what they are to bring out. The device, although still having a high price tag, wasn't really the leap forward that many had hoped for and whilst it did add a number of nice new features it's certainly not the phone that really "Changed everything", it just raised the bar and others have since raised it which is why it's showing it's age.

The problems with a Samsung Galaxy S2

This entry will be the first in a series (though not necessarily in any particular order) in which a phones "problems" are looked at. This time we will look at the major issues involving Samsung's lead device, the Samsung Galaxy S2. The S2 has been a huge success and has been one of the standout phones of 2011, though it still has it's issues.

The most notable problems the phone has are the battery issue and the heating issues. Whilst we can do a number of things to "stretch" the battery life by just using the phone in certain ways and also download several apps that can extend the battery the issue is still one that plagues the phone. The problem really sits with the issue that phone batteries were never supposed to be running things like the phone has, mainly a dual core 1.2 ghz processor and a 4.3" Super AMOLED screen. Whilst you can buy improved batteries you will, generally, find yourself putting the phone onto charge nightly with the normal battery.
When it comes to the heating issues of the Samsung Galaxy S2 this is another one that we seem to be stuck with. Whilst firmware updates have helped improve the situation the key problem is that there is a lot going on under the hood of the phone and there isn't really a satisfactory way of letting the heat get out. Generally you shouldn't get a problem from the phone being hot (other than warm fingers) though the general advice is to close the applications your using and give the phone a few minutes to cool down. Again it's not great but it's really the only work around.

The GPS of the phone has been discovered to be...hit and miss and best. Whilst, again, firmware upgrades seem to have helped slightly the phone still doesn't seem to have the greatest of accuracy especially not in the countryside. Whether this is the fault of the handset or the satellites seems to have been a bit of a discussion point on some forums. Sadly, the fact that others phones do the whole thing more accurately means that the phone is the one to blame. At the moment the best idea is to try and avoid relying solely on the GPS but more use it for guidance.

As well as those 3 rather general issues there is a number of smaller minor issues. Things such as the lack of inverse functions for Sin, Cos and Tan on the default scientific calculator (which can be found following this guide if you've not seen it), the size and issues with the Wi-Fi. The easiest of these 3 to solve is the Calculator issue where you can download a free calculator app such as RealCalc which has all the functions you would need. The size is however not something you'll be able to change, you are "stuck" with the phone the size it is, which, personally, I don't have an issue with though others might.The Wi-Fi's main problem seems to be a weak signal, sadly a fix doesn't appear to be out...yet, though as with the battery and GPS issues a Firmware update is expected to help in the future.