Unpacking a Punch

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DJ Loh opened the Samsung unpacked show with a speech applauding the loyal users of the Note series of smartphone phablets. Samsung headed back into the smartphone ring with the Note 8.

At first glance, you are forgiven for thinking that this phone was going to be a Galaxy S8 with a S-pen, but you would be so wrong. The Note series is designed for multitaskers and creatives and many of those functions demand more power and smarter software. So here are a selection of the main highlights of the new Note 8

Screen

Yes, it has the infinity display so loved by the recipients of the S8, with a QHD+AMOLED display. The 6.3” screen gives more real estate for those creations. The curved edge is steeper to allow you to write and draw more. There is still the split screen so you can work with two apps at the same time, to this has been added the ability to pair apps, for example you ‘Maps’ and ‘Music’ for driving.

Design

The dual curved edge and aluminium unibody is unchanged. The phone comes in four colours midnight black, deep-sea blue, orchid grey and maple gold. It has a c-type USB connection and those who were worried that Samsung would follow Apples lead with the ear-phone socket, will find it still there and ready for the Harmon earphones that come shipped with the phone. The fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitors are now on the rear.

Camera

Sporting a best in class dual pixel sensor, the Note 8 also has dual cameras, one with a telephoto lens, the other with a wide-angle lens. Both these cameras work together, giving you depth of field. As both take individual shots and combine them, this means you can use a live focus mode to concentrate on your subject whilst blurring the background…in real time and after taking the shot. Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) is in both cameras giving you stability in both photos and video. Samsung even cheekily compared their video shot in Thailand against the latest apple offering!

S-Pen

You do not buy a Note without appreciating what the S-pen can bring to the experience. The Note 8 S-pen has the same pressure sensitivity and pen release seen in earlier Notes. The new features include off screen notes increased to over 100 pages worth, without having to switch your screen on, plus the ability to edit and erase too. You can now translate whole sentences from text, or pictures, making life easier on your travels. It will convert currency too! One very cool feature, is the way you can now write or draw messages and then send via SMS. You can also write or draw on photos you have taken before sending.

PenUP

PenUp was mentioned as it is an app, featuring the community of Note users, showcasing their works of art created with the S-Pen. There is now a gallery of colouring pages for those quiet creative moments.

Bixby button

Although Bixby has been slow in getting to England, the Note 8 has Bixby onboard and ready to use. The Bixby button can have several commands programmed to a couple of words. The example given was the command ‘food photo’ which opens the camera, sets the filter to ‘food shot’, after the photo has been captured, file the photo to an album, labelled ‘food’. Leaving you virtually hands free and saving several taps on the screen.

Specs

The processor driving the Note 8 is a 10Nhm Qualcomm, backed with 6GB RAM and starting with 64GB storage. This storage is expandable with a microSD card. Samsung Knox is still present to protect your phone and opening the device is quick with iris scanning, though fingerprint, face recognition, password, pattern, and PIN are also available.

The Note 8 is available on pre-order and ships from the 15th September. Prices start at £869 for the 64Gb

Watch the demo here

Are EU Roaming this Summer?

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It is that time of the year, the kids will be breaking up soon and we will all be heading en masse to Europe for our holidays. Last year we wrote about how to keep your data costs down whilst roaming on holiday in our blog, Costa Bravo, Not Costa Lotto. This year the picture is different….or is it.

EU roaming charges

Since the 15th June, we have been free to roam the EU with our mobile phone, using the same tariff as we enjoy (pay for) at home. This means that if you have an unlimited call and text plan, then you will be able to make the same calls and texts, though a few operators put a ‘fair use’ allowance, this is liable to be generous enough for your two weeks in the sun. This is the time to pay close attention to your tariff and ensure that you stay within its limitations.

Data

Data plans are also the same, this means the ability to look up local restaurants and attraction opening times with the same allowance as you have always had at home. The charges for going over your data has also been reduced, in some cases as much as 25 times cheaper, even so, you should try to keep within your usual usage and our tips from last year will assist with that.

I travel a lot

If you travel to the EU for work often, then as long as you spend more time in your home country that abroad in any 4-month period, then the same ruling should cover you. If you need extra, then there are still some tariffs with roaming minutes included. If you are planning a longer trip than a few months, or a temporary move to another country, then you may need to talk to your operator.

We are here to help

Here at Voot, we want you to get the best out of your tariff, and so please talk to us before making extensive travel plans, to check and see how you can roam like at home.

Are you looking at a business centre?

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Many businesses start at home, or in a business incubation unit. Ours is no exception. "Easy in, easy out" they shout - and in most cases its absolutely the perfect way to start.

what many business centres fail to tell you however is that you will be allocated a telephone number for their internal telephone lines - and you will be free to have that number printed on your stationery, website, directories everywhere as your relentless marketing drive aims to push people to buy from you.

As you become more and more established you may well move into a larger office, until one day if things go well, you decide its time to seek pastures new. And thats when your problems start...

The telephone number you've taken doesnt belong to you. You've just rented it. And for the business centre thats an excellent commercial decision - as it means you will be less inclined to move... Your easy out option becomes a huge issue - because it could damage your business to lose your main point of contact.

Here at VOOT we are delighted to offer businesses a much better option. Your own geographical number - that we can point in any direction you like. At your business centre phones, or at your mobiles. And you OWN the number, meaning that as your business grows we can work with you to deliver a phone system, transfer it to any premises you may choose. 

Numbers start from just £5 per month. PLEASE - speak to us before you move in to a business centre. We're happy to talk...

Don't be a Slave

It is all too easy nowadays to forget that Apple and Samsung are not the only manufacturers of mobile phones. Many people know that others exist, but are reluctant to move from the security of the two main players. Chained to our phones for most of the day as we often are, it is worth considering other makes, to see if they could possibly be a better fit.

Blackberry

Blackberry KeyOne

Now that Blackberry has chosen to use the Android Operating system, this is an easy move from a Samsung. There is the Blackberry KeyOne, which brings back the physical keyboard for those that prefer this method of input. Stacking up with a 5.7” screen and 3GB ram it certainly has the capacity to be a mobile office. The Blackberry Priv is also one to consider, this time with a slide out keyboard.

HTC

HTC U11

HTC have always produced great phones with superb cameras and camera software. The latest is the HTC U11, which has some squeezable sides. Yes, that is what we said. If you love Alexa from Amazon, then you will be interested to know HTC will be bringing her along with this phone.

Pixel

Google Pixel

If you love being the one with the latest software, then Google’s Pixel phone could be for you. Packed with Google goodies, such as Assistant and unlimited storage for your photos. The phone has some impressive stats too; a type C USB and 4 GB ram are among those. Two sizes of Pixel and Pixel XL for more screen real estate.

Xperia

Xperia XZ Premium

The latest offering from Sony is the Xperia XZ Premium, the world’s first smartphone with a 4K HDR display. If you are into video and motion capture, then this could be your dream phone. Being Sony, you also get your PS4 gaming experience from your phone.

OnePlus

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OnePlus make some quality phones and their latest the 3T claims to be the fastest charging at ½ hr for a full days’ worth of battery power. With 6GB Ram and 128 GB of storage this could be the powerhouse, you need.

We have not completed a full review of these phones, yet, but perhaps a chat with one of us to discuss your particular needs from your phone, will help us steer you.

Penny pinching ideas for your telecoms

My mother said, if you want to save money ask a Yorkshireman how to do it.....So we asked Nigel, and he said....

penny pinching ideas to save money on your telecoms

 

Landlines

Saving money on landlines, might be as simple as asking yourself do you really need a landline? With VOIP systems redirecting the call to a mobile, you can still have that landline number, but with the mobile freedom. Check out our blog from March

If you need to keep a landline, you can still save money on calls. Firstly, stop making calls to mobiles from your landlines. Today. Now. This minute.  They cost up to 12ppm and usually you will get mobile to mobiles calls within your mobile tariff minutes. Shockingly 70% of landline users do not really know what is and what is not included in their tariff. As there are over 300 tariffs today available, you are excused, a little. However, you should check the contract today and consider whether it is still a good fit for your business.

The average per minute rate for calls from a landline is 3pm and most carriers have a minimum call charge, BT for example is 4.5p. Some carriers do say no minimum call charges, however if you can get a carrier with charge per second-with no call setup fee or minimum call charge, take the deal.

Lastly SAY NO TO 0870! Calls are 8ppm; there are websites you can find alternative numbers to call.

Mobiles

You can make some big savings on mobile phones. Tariffs change every 3 months, so consider that when you come to renew your contract.

New phone

Most people cannot wait to get themselves a shiny new phone each time they renew their contract, but if you really want to save money, consider whether you can survive with the relatively new phone you already have in your hand. Sim only deals can be as good as the current (May 2017) 20GB for £20 with unlimited minutes and texts, ask us about it.

Analyse

Do make sure to analyse your phone bills. You will need the last three bills - jot down your mins/texts/data usage for each month and work out the average.  Then check out the tariff choices available. If you do this regularly, when you come up for renewal, you will be sure you can get a better deal for you and your usage. If you signed a 24-month contract, remember there are early upgrades available.

Data

Watch your data usage

We have an example of one of our customers, who refused a £4.25 500mB data bundle that we had advised. They went on to use over 500mB in one month at £2.56 a mB, resulting in a £1,300 bill...

Most mobiles today have a data quota limit with a warning, which you can set to make sure you do not go over your contracted data usage.

Directory enquiries

Directory Enquiries

For those that know us, we do not highly recommend directory enquiries, pleasant and informative as they are, the cost outweighs the use. If you really cannot resist calling them, please never ever say yes to your call being diverted through to the number, as the call on some networks is over £5.00pm with ongoing metering! They will text you the number if you do not have a pen and paper to hand. A 10-minute call that should come from your bundle could end up costing you £50.00 – do that once a week and you have just added £200 a month to your bill...

Non-Geographic numbers

Try not to dial Non Geographic numbers from your mobile – basic rule is anything starting with an ‘08’. They are not included in your bundle and rates are generally 3 times those of calling from a landline...

Broadband

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Saving money on broadband is not as easy, though finding a good deal to start with, will get you halfway there. Do you really need to have broadband both at work and at home? Alternatively, could you combine the two with a dongle? Not sure, why not ask us and we will steer you in the right direction.

Instead of hitting the usual comparison sites, try Ukbroadbandfinder.co.uk – put in your postcode and check, which carriers operate in your area and their rates.

#bedforawayfans - football (and Twitter) at its best

Football fans in general get a pretty rough press. Indeed even this evening it appears that some nutter has caused an explosion, injuring a Borussia Dortmund player on his way to a Champions League game with AS Monaco...

Here at Voot we love our football, and it pains us that this often leaves us compared with idiots like this. We have great faith in the 'football family' worldwide - it connects people, a common interest, and brings people of all cultures together in passion, emotion and respect. And tonight, it didn't let us down.

The football family came together, and embracing Twitter the hashtag #bedforawayfans was created, and along with it literally hundreds of offers of rooms for AS Monaco fans came pouring in from the residents and fans of Dortmund, meaning they can stay in the city and see the rearranged game tomorrow. Wonderful. This is what the Football Family is all about, this is what football is all about, and it fills us with admiration for those fans who have embraced it.

Its not about idiots like the guy who got the game abandoned. Well done to all, and here's to a replay without further  a incident off the pitch.  

 

 

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EE Bah Gum - its good coverage!

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EE is the best mobile operator for 4G coverage in 14 of the most populated areas in the UK, says a new report.

The network dominated rival firms O2, Vodafone and Three, according to statistics from RootMetrics.

It assessed coverage in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Bradford, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

EE delivered at least 90% coverage in 11 of the 14 areas, while Three failed to hit that figure in any of the cities included in the report.

O2 and Vodafone, meanwhile, only hit the 90% mark in three areas. 

Below are the 4G coverage results (%) for each area included in the report, starting with Sheffield - our most local tested area;

Sheffield

  1. EE: 96.2

  2. O2: 86.3

  3. Vodafone: 85.9

  4. Three: 71.4

Belfast

  1. EE: 98.1

  2. O2: 94.6

  3. Vodafone: 91.9 

  4. Three: 75.1

Birmingham

  1. EE: 98.3

  2. O2: 89.6

  3. Vodafone: 89 

  4. Three: 76.3

Bristol

  1. EE: 92.2

  2. O2: 69

  3. Vodafone: 68.1

  4. Three: 56.7

Cardiff

  1. EE: 86.5

  2. O2: 60.4

  3. Vodafone: 60.4

  4. Three: 43.1

Coventry

  1. EE: 96.1

  2. Vodafone: 87.4 

  3. O2: 87.1

  4. Three: 67.2

Edinburgh

  1. EE: 89.1

  2. Vodafone: 88.4

  3. O2: 86.6

  4. Three: 55

Glasgow

  1. EE: 89.4

  2. Vodafone: 77.2 

  3. O2: 77.1

  4. Three: 58.4

Leeds and Bradford

  1. EE: 90

  2. Vodafone: 82.1

  3. O2: 80.8

  4. Three: 61

Leicester

  1. EE: 95.6

  2. O2: 83.8

  3. Vodafone: 82.1 

  4. Three: 63.2

Liverpool

  1. EE: 99.8

  2. O2: 94

  3. Vodafone: 92.9 

  4. Three: 80.9

London

  1. EE: 90.7

  2. O2: 77.3

  3. Vodafone: 76.5

  4. Three: 65.1

Manchester

  1. EE: 99

  2. O2: 94.8

  3. Vodafone: 92.6

  4. Three: 81.7

Nottingham

  1. EE: 95.6

  2. O2: 81.2

  3. Vodafone: 80.5

  4. Three: 72.1

To Infinity and Beyond

Buzz Lightyear

Samsung’s Unpacked event could have been a nervous affair after the disastrous Note 7. However, Samsung showed that they had picked themselves up and dusted themselves down and brought us some innovations. DJ Kohl kicked off by saying, that they had placed Quality, Safety and Craftsmanship, at the forefront of the business. They had run an 8-point test, higher than the industry standard on their batteries. Confident that this was in place, the S8 and sister phone S8+ were unveiled.

Styling

As teased in the adverts leading up to this event, the phone does have a wraparound screen and the reduced top and bottom panels, bring us a huge infinity display. The back mirrors the curvature of the front and so looks elegant and feels great in the palm. The home button is now in the screen, as a capacitive along with the navigation keys.

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Stats

The new 1nm processor received a justified wow from the audience. The expandable storage takes up to 256GB. The IP68 rating, giving you the dust and waterproofing, one expects from a smartphone today. The batteries are a sizeable 3000MaH on the S8 and 3500MaH on the S8+, with wireless charging. The new charger does allow a choice between laying your phone down, or propped up. The USB connection is the type c, favoured by those of us, who always get them upside down.

Security

I do not know about you, but passwords are becoming such a pain. The fingerprint was helping; however, it can be easy to fake. Samsung have introduced Iris scanning and Face-mapping with the S8 and S8+. Just look at your phone and it unlocks! Samsung are working with financial partners to use this technology for your everyday banking needs. Samsung Knox is still there too, so you can lock away your most sensitive data.

Cameras

Samsung have optimised the 8mP front camera for selfies, with an autofocus, so everyone in frame is looking their best. The rear 12mP camera is ready for action, as soon as you are, using its dual pixel has a multi frame processor, giving you the best of shots every time.

Bixby

A new AI assistant was launched in the form of Bixby, who uses voice, touch and images to formulate a contextual understanding of your requirements, a swipe to the right on the home screen, now brings information from Bixby , presented as cards. Though most of your interaction with him will be in voice commands, summoning up your apps as needed.

Earphone jack

The earphone jack is still here and to bring you a more immersive experience, and as a result, of Samsung’s partnering with Harmon, every S8 and S8+ will come boxed with AKG earbuds.

 The S8 with its 5.8” screen and the S8+ with its 6.2” screen will be available in the UK from 21st April in the Midnight black or Orchid Grey colours.