O2 and Vodafone confirmed to sell iPhone 5S and 5C in UK

The Apple iPhone 5C and 5S are finally upon us, bringing colourful plastic casings and a new gold hue, respectively, to the iPhone range. O2, Vodafone and Three have all confirmed that they will have the new phone. It'll be arriving in the UK on 20 September.

At the time of writing, no networks were able to say exactly how much cash you'll need to splash to put either new phone in your pocket. None of the other networks were able to say whether they definitely will have either phone, although it's safe to assume they all will...

Read the full story here... Source: CNET

iPhone 5S, 5C, Galaxy S4 and HTC One UK prices compared

A new raft of iPhones is upon us! The iPhone 5S, with its gold-coloured metal back and the cheaper, plastic iPhone 5C. But how do these new models compare against the top Android phones, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One?

The iPhone 5C is the cheaper of the two, starting at £469 for the 16GB model or £549 for the 32GB version. The 5S is available up in 16, 32 and 64GB options, for £549, £629 and £709, respectively. Neither then, are what you'd call cheap...

Read the full story here... Source: CNET


Microsoft Surface Pro coming to the UK in May

Microsoft's proper Windows 8 tablet, the Surface Pro, is coming to the UK "before the end of May", according to a company blog post. The software behemoth has yet to announce prices.

The last we heard about the delayed Pro was several weeks ago, when Microsoft said it was due "in the coming months". It'll arrive in other countries next month too, covering much of Europe -- Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland -- and further afield in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

The Surface Pro runs full Windows 8, rather than the cut-down Windows RT on the Surface. That means you can run any Windows-compatible software, whereas the Surface is stuck with whatever's available on the Marketplace app store. Manufacturers including Samsung have criticised RT for being hard to understand, but it's due to get Outlook at some point this year.

While a British price for the Pro is yet to materialise, it sells for $899 (£560) in the US. The £399 Surface is cheaper in the States than in the UK, thanks to our swingeing 20 per cent VAT. Plucking a number out of thin air, I reckon the Surface Pro will be £700 here.

But that's just for the basic 64GB model, which doesn't have much free storage, and no keyboard cover. Upgrading to the 128GB model, which our CNET.com colleague Scott Stein calls "essential", and adding the cool keyboard will set you back $1,200 -- nearly £800, plus VAT. Cripes.

If you can't wait for a Windows 8 tablet, we can recommend the £600 Acer Iconia W700 and £400 Asus VivoTab Smart, both four-star machines.

[Source: CNET]

Apple could face 'legal undertakings' in UK over in-app purchases

Remember the UK police officer who reported his son to authorities for fraud after the 13-year-old ran up a US$5,600 bill for in-app purchases on the iOS App Store?

That kind of unexpected consumer cost has thrown the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into a tizzy, and they've announced that they'll be starting a six-month investigation into whether children are being "unfairly pressured or encouraged to pay for additional content in 'free' web- and app-based games."

Our sister site TechCrunch confirmed that the OFT is contacting Apple and Google; not surprising, as the companies run the two largest app stores, but it's not clear whether either company could be held responsible for the actions of individual developers who abuse IAPs. While Google Play includes guidelines for developers and reserves the right to remove apps that abuse them, it does not review / approve individual apps for compliance in advance; Apple's App Store, of course, does approve or reject apps prior to release.

When the investigation is completed, the OFT could seek "legal undertakings from court" if it is displeased with the results. An OFT spokesperson told TechCrunch that companies ignoring court directions could face "an unlimited fine."

The OFT Senior Director for Goods and Consumer, the implausibly-named Cavendish Elithorn, noted in a statement that "The OFT is not seeking to ban in-game purchases, but the games industry must ensure it is complying with the relevant regulations so that children are protected. We are speaking to the industry and will take enforcement action if necessary."

Neither Google nor Apple have replied to TechCrunch with regard to the investigation.

[Source: TUAW]

EE to double 4G spectrum allocation, boost speeds in first ten cities by summer

While EE scrambles to spread its LTE network far and wide before the other UK carriers get into the 4G business, it also wants to flex some spectrum muscle. The network's announced it's planning to double the LTE allocation on its 1800MHz band (from 2 x 10MHz to 2 x 20MHz), which it claims will increase download speeds to an average of 20 Mbps, topping out at 80 Mbps. Ten of the 11 original 4G launch cities will be seeing this bandwidth boost first: London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.EE doesn't want you to think it's done expanding, though, and says it'll continue to make use of its MHz and GHz by rolling out boring, normal LTE in new areas whilst doubling up in others. The first ten cities are due to receive "double-speed" 4G by summer, which we assume means around the time summer is supposed to happen.

Update: EE's Howard Jones has added on Twitter that the network will start trialing carrier aggregation, LTE-A (that's even better 4G) later in 2013. We've asked for more details and will fill you in when we hear more.

[Image credit: Lazygamer, Flickr]

[Source: Engadget]

4G will disrupt Freeview TV in fewer homes than expected

Fears have been allayed over whether the 4G networks that'll launch this summer will interfere with Freeview telly signals.

trial conducted by at800 found that a makeshift 4G network using the 800MHz band only affected Freeview reception in 15 out of the 22,000 homes surveyed, The Register reports. at800 originally predicted 120 households would experience problems. Those that did have trouble were remedied quickly with a cheap filter.

The trial was held in Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis, near Dudley.

When operators join EE in rolling our their 4G networks this summer, they'll need to use the 800MHz band, which is the same as Freeview (EE uses the 1,800MHz). Hence concern that your viewing would be interrupted because someone upstairs is browsing on their blower. Campaigners claimed up to 2 million households could be affected.

The operators chucked £180 million at the problem, but will get that back, seeing as it looks like at800 will have nothing to spend it on. Unless it throws a massive party.

All 15 homes that had reception issues featured a signal booster. The filters that come to the rescue have to be fitted between the aerial and the booster -- easy-peasy if the booster is near the back of the TV, but a pain in the backside if it's on top of a tower block, serving a lot of flats. So some households could still have issues.

Bigger trials are needed for a better grasp of the problem, but for the moment it looks like the vast majority of us will be able to watch telly while browsing the Web at super-fast speeds.

[Source: CNET]

HMV Stores to Live On in the U.K.

The HMV chain of music retail stores in the United Kingdom has been purchased, pulling it out of administration status.

HMV filed for administrative protection – the U.K. equivalent of bankruptcy – this past Jan. while it went in a search of a buyer. Despite having closed 66 of its stores during this time, the company has indeed found a buyer in Hilco, the company that also holds the Canadian HMV stores, has agreed to purchase the remaining 141 stores which are comprised of 132 HMV branded stores, and the remaining nine Fopp locations.

Hilco plans to retain all of the 2,643 employees in the company, and will move away from a plan that would have seen the HMV stores move deeper into tablets and away from music and video.

While no price of the purchase was announced, The Hollywood Reporter stated that some reports pegged the price of the company at £50 million, or approximately $76 million USD.

The 141 stores included in the sale are:

Aberdeen, Ayr, Banbury, Bangor (Wales), Basildon, Basingstoke, Bath, Belfast Donegall Arcade, Birmingham Bullring, Blackpool, Bluewater, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton Churchill, Bristol Broadmead, Bristol Cribbs, Bromley, Bury, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Canary Wharf, Canterbury, Cardiff, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Chester, Chichester, Colchester, Coventry, Crawley, Cwmbran, Darlington, Derby, Doncaster, Dundee, East Kilbride, Eastbourne, Edinburgh Fort Retail, Edinburgh Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh Princes Street, Exeter, FOPP Bristol, FOPP Cambridge, FOPP Covent Garden, FOPP Edinburgh, FOPP Glasgow Byres Road, FOPP Glasgow Union Street, FOPP Gower Street London, FOPP Manchester, FOPP Nottingham, Gateshead, Glasgow Argyle, Glasgow Buchanan, Glasgow Fort, Gloucester, Grimsby, Guernsey, Guildford, Hanley, Harlow, Harrogate, Hastings, Hatfield, Hereford, High Wycombe, Horsham, Hull, Inverness, Ipswich, Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, Islington, Jersey, Kettering, Kings Lynn, Kingston, Leamington Spa, Leeds Headrow, Leeds White Rose, Leicester, Lincoln, Liverpool One, Livingston, Llandudno, Maidstone, Manchester 90 Market Street, Manchester Trafford, Mansfield, Merry Hill, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newport (Wales), Northampton, Norwich Gentlemans Walk, Norwich Chapelfield, Nottingham Victoria, Nuneaton, Oxford, Oxford Circus, Peterborough Queensgate, Plymouth Drake Circus, Poole, Portsmouth Commercial Road, Portsmouth Gun Wharf Quay, Preston, Reading Oracle, Romford, Selfridges Oxford Street, Sheffield High Street, Sheffield Meadowhall, Shrewsbury, Solihull, Southampton, Southend Victoria, Southport, Speke Park, Staines, Stevenage, Stirling, Stockport, Stratford upon Avon, Stratford City Westfield, Sunderland, Sutton, Swansea, Taunton, Thanet, Thurrock, Truro, Tunbridge Wells, Uxbridge, Westfield London, Wimbledon, Winchester, Wolverhampton, Worcester, Worthing, Yeovil, York.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

Wii U Sales Jump 125% in UK

Here’s some good news for Nintendo’s offices in the European region: the Wii U enjoyed a 125 percent sales jump in UK during its most recent week at retail.

The cause for the upshot in sales? Blame it on Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and a price cut by retailers in the region. The new software and the adjusted cost pushed consumers to head out to shops and pick up the Wii U.

While 125 percent sounds like an awesome figure for Nintendo’s brand new console, it’s important to consider that the Wii U has been performing horribly in the UK. A more than double jump in sales still doesn’t make the machine as popular as the big N needs it to be.

Still, a positive is a positive, and hopefully this sales boost is a sign of things to come for Nintendo’s hardware. I’ll stick by my original perception of the Wii U: give it great games and it will sell.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

BBC Two HD launches today, Freeview HD reaches 3.5 million

BBC Two HD launched today, bringing high-definition versions of Auntie's second-best programmes to millions of high-def homes.

BBC 2 shows to be broadcast in extra-crisp detail include The Great British Bake OffLater... with Jools Holland, and, of course, Top Gear.

Previously, BBC HD showed highlights of BBC shows from across the Beeb board. But BBC Two HD is just the same as BBC Two only with more pixels stuffed into Jeremy Clarkson's increasingly gravity stretched face.

By my reckoning, that means only BBC One and BBC Two shows will be broadcast in high def, which means no more HD for programmes that live on BBC Three or other BBC channels.

From today, BBC Two HD is on channel 102 of your Freeview box, directly replacing the previous BBC HD channel. It's also in the same place on other TV services, except Sky, where it's been shunted to channel 142 to sit next to BBC One HD.

The BBC is also experimenting with its HD channels. For example, the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who will be broadcast in 3D on the HD channel on Saturday 23 November.

Freeview reckons the appetite for high definition is large and growing: Freeview HD is now in the main television in 3.5m living rooms, the second biggest HD service after Sky+ HD. Freeview hopes to see another ten high definition channels in the coming year.

[Source: CNET]

Facebook Messenger Updated with Voice Calls in UK

Facebook recently released a new version of its Messenger application in the United Kingdom. The update offers voice calls and voice messages, two features that have been available to U.S. users since the middle of January. The application is available for several platforms, including Android and iOS, although the iOS version is reportedly the only one with the added voice call support right now.

Facebook appears to be chasing Skype with the new VoIP services, although we’ll need to see the feature rolled out across the globe before it even starts to look like a real competitor in the space. The application is free and is available from the iTunes App Store now.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]


Blockbuster U.K. Acquired by Gordon Brothers

Blockbuster Video in the U.K. has been saved from bankruptcy thanks to acquisition by Gordon Brothers.

It was announced in Jan. that the U.K. version of Blockbuster Video had filed for administration, the country’s version of chapter 11 bankruptcy. The day to day operations of the 528 stores and nearly 4,200 employees were taken over by Deloitte, which has cut some of the retail locations since that time.

Gordon Brothers announced today that it is acquiring the company and will keep the doors open. It plans to keep the remaining 264 stores in operation as well as retain the remaining 2,000 employees.

Frank Morton, CEO of Gordon Brothers Europe said of the acquisition, “We acknowledge the industry is in transition; we know that we have a challenge ahead but there is still a market to be served.” He went on to add, “Blockbuster has a strong brand affinity and we believe that with the right mix of newproduct offering, new technologies, strategic management and marketing, we can bring new life to this high street staple. We look forward to working with employees, suppliers, landlords and other stakeholders to make this happen.”

The U.K. branch of Blockbuster operates separately from the U.S. arm which is also currently going through its own financial turmoil. Dish Network, which bought Blockbuster in 2011, announced earlier this year that it would be closing 300 more stores on top of the 500 it had already shuttered.

[Source: TechnoBuffalo]

UK ISPs start blocking torrent sites after court order

If you're looking for some naughty torrent action this weekend then hard cheese, my friend -- BT, O2, Virgin Media and BE Broadband have started blocking such sites following an order from the High Court.

But not all. Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy are the only torrent sites you won't be able to access using the above ISPs, thanks to a High Court order earlier this year, The Inquirer reports. The ban started yesterday, but will it really stop nogoodniks?

The three blocked torrent sites are pretty huge: Kickass Torrents is one of the 50 most-visited websites in the UK, while H33T and Fenopy have hundreds of thousands of visitors a day. They join The Pirate Bay, which was also blocked by ISPs last year. Though those wily pirates have found plenty of ways to get around that. And it hasn't meant fewer people are file sharingeither.

The High Court order came about because of a request from nine major record labels, led by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry). They cited Section 97A of the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, and asked BT, EE, O2, Sky, Talktalk and Virgin Media to stop letting users access the sites. It's not known whether Sky, EE and Talktalk will follow suit and block torrent sites in future.

The four ISPs who have blocked the sites didn't do so voluntarily, but they didn't dispute the BPI's demands either.

I can see why music labels and film studios are so protective of their copyright, but is blocking sites really the answer? It won't stop someone googling and finding another site hosting torrents. And while three of the biggest might be out of action -- only on some ISPs, remember -- it'll just drive traffic to the others, helping them grow, until they're big enough to be the target of a court order, and the whole process starts again. I've said it before, but it's true -- it's like playing whack-a-mole.

[Source: CNET]