Electricpig » Computers & Accessories http://www.electricpig.co.uk The only tech you need Thu, 22 Nov 2012 12:13:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Megan Fox Acer ad is either the best or stupidest thing ever http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/31/megan-fox-acer-ad-is-either-the-best-or-stupidest-thing-ever/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/31/megan-fox-acer-ad-is-either-the-best-or-stupidest-thing-ever/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 14:27:16 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=472033

Enlisting celebrities to endorse your stuff is a dangerous ploy. It can work quite well (although we’re struggling to remember any shining examples), but more often than not it’ll end up on the wrong side of the god-awful spectrum. And then sometimes it’s really unclear as to whether a campaign is actually good or not, such is its level of insanity.

Case in point? This brain-melting Megan Fox / Acer matchup. 

“It is absolutely not a celebrity endorsement campaign,” Acer’s Michael Birkin says of the company’s new celebrity endorsement campaign. Birkin insists that Acer’s not using Fox as its “corporate spokesperson,” rather, it’s just using her looks to spread the word that the Acer brand is now more ‘premium’ than it used to be.

Celebrity Siri ads verge on the embarrassing

“It’s very important when you haven’t done brand advertising in the past that you get noticed and therefore the truth is that it is well known personalities engage people perhaps more easily,” Birkin said, adding that Acer wants “to be a premium provider at affordable pricing but driven by the aspirational dynamic which is for people to explore things they didn’t think they could do.”

Right. And, naturally, ‘things they didn’t think they could do’ roughly translates as ‘imply that Megan Fox is both a scientist and a software engineer, and can communicate with dolphins’.

It’s mad in the kind of way that only celeb tech endorsements can be, and it’s one of those things where we really can’t tell if it’s genius or just really, really terrible.

One thing’s for sure: Fox is laughing all the way to the bank.

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Google’s quiet Nexus launch proves we don’t actually need the fanfare http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/30/googles-quiet-nexus-launch/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/30/googles-quiet-nexus-launch/#comments Tue, 30 Oct 2012 12:10:00 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=470957

Hurricane Sandy has begun its reign (and rain) of terror on the east coast of the US, but before the floods and power outages, the adverse weather claimed its first victim: a big, showy launch for Google. In lieu, the company has been forced to stage the most lo-fi product launch for years.

But the news is still just as full of Google headlines as it otherwise would be. So, what’s the real benefit in a big keynote launch? 

That video carries the bulk of the news: Google has launched a variety of new Nexus devices – the Nexus 4 handset, an upgraded 32GB Nexus 7 and a Samsung-made 10-inch Nexus 10.

All of this, along with some light changes to Android’s services, was supposed to be the subject of a keynote speech in the US – a largeascale launch the likes of which is now the norm among tech manufacturers.

Hurricane Sandy stopped that, forcing Google to show its hand via email, video and on its blog. Disaster, right? Not really – all the likely news hubs still reported on the launches exactly as they otherwise would.

It makes you think: do companies hold these events because they have an intrinsic value, or is it merely because everyone else does? Go back about five years, and Apple was the only company hosting surprise announcements on the scale Google had planned. Its whooping, hollering keynotes were different to everyone else’s, they were much grander – and therefore special.

The secret behind Apple’s secret launches

But now it’s all identikit: you gather 500 journalists into a room, talk for half an hour about how the company is doing, then slowly unveil your wares, pausing for applause several times along the way. It’s the press release glammed up and stretched out over the course of (at least) an hour. But why?

If the online press is going to cover big launches regardless, does it really matter where they are when it happens? Google’s understated launch was a forced one, but the press writ large probably preferred it: there was no preamble, no bullshit and no traveling.

The Nexus info hit inboxes and RSS feeds at the same time, and everyone duly reported on it. And, if anything, it felt like a refreshing change of pace; not anti-climatic, just a bit more relaxed, and certainly less needlessly hyperbolic.

The start of things to come? Almost definitely not, but perhaps it should be. Do you agree? Let us know below.

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Windows wha? Microsoft finds out there’s no such thing as too much marketing http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/29/windows-wha-microsoft/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/29/windows-wha-microsoft/#comments Mon, 29 Oct 2012 10:44:09 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=469904

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re quite switched on when it comes to the tech world. As such, you’re probably already getting tired of your living room glow box shoving Windows 8 in your face twice every ad break. But remember: not everyone is like you – and a new poll in the US has just duly shown Microsoft exactly that. Erm… Windows wha?

Microsoft’s budget for shouting about Windows 8 is, as you’d expect, rather large. As in, $1 billion kind of large. TV ad breaks are now completely stuffed with mentions of the new operating system (and will be all the way up to Christmas), but they’re still going straight over some people’s heads.

Associated Press in the US has carried out a phone survey to see just how successful Microsoft’s juggernaut of a campaign has been so far. And the results should make the entire marketing industry bang its collective face against the nearest wall.

Windows 8 is now an actual thing!

Get this: of nearly 1,200 in the survey, a huge 52 percent claimed to have never heard of Windows 8. Now, it’s fair to say that surveys like this are always going to be a bit skewed (like, who says yes to a phone survey?), but when over half of your results show that your $1 billion in advertising money may as well be getting chucked down the drain, there’s cause for concern.

Is the problem that there’s still not enough advertising? Or that it’s still early days? Or is it that you’re always going to have some people who just don’t pay enough attention? Let us know your thoughts below.

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The king of spin: How to apologise without actually apologising http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/26/the-king-of-spin-how-to-apologise-without-actually-apologising/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/26/the-king-of-spin-how-to-apologise-without-actually-apologising/#comments Fri, 26 Oct 2012 13:13:31 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=467142

Want to see how to put so much spin on a court-ordered apology that it might actually affect global tides? Read on for a bamboozling display of word trickery from Apple…

In case you’ve been keeping your ears and eyes in a drawer, Apple and Samsung have had a rather messy falling out over patents and design. See, whilst Apple has been accusing Samsung of stealing its iPad design for its own gain, the UK courts think different.

The judge decreed that Samsung hasn’t copied Apple because its products just aren’t ‘cool’. And at the same time, ordered Apple to apologise for stirring up the trouble in the first place.

So, hang on… Apple has to apologise on the grounds that Samsung hasn’t actually copied the iPad, and also that Samsung’s gear isn’t (whatever it means) cool? Sounds like an opportunity for a PR spin to us.

Enough teasing, just read Apple’s official statement for yourself.

Best worst apology ever. There’s a pun in this somewhere, to do with the term ‘spin doctor’ and the phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor at bay’. Answers on a postcard.

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Publishing’s big guns back Windows 8: Looks like we got ourselves a fight http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/26/publishings-big-guns-back-windows-8-looks-like-we-got-ourselves-a-fight/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/26/publishings-big-guns-back-windows-8-looks-like-we-got-ourselves-a-fight/#comments Fri, 26 Oct 2012 11:16:39 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=467101

Windows 8 has launched. It’s spilling across the world as you read this, fixing to stop PCs from being dull, and at the same time giving Microsoft a serious footing in the hitherto Apple-dominated tablet market. Thankfully, the publishing world is trying to help.

Are we finally about to see a real two-horse race?

When Apple launched the iPad mini on Wednesday, it did its usual preamble about how successful its tablet range is. This included a stat that well over 90 per cent of mobile tablet web traffic comes from an iPad.

Time to ditch the digital mags?

That’s a number that Microsoft wants to make a dent in – both with its own Surface tablet and from its manufacturing partner’s efforts. But if it wants to do that, it needs apps. The Windows 8 store for apps currently only has about 10,000 in its vaults, but that looks set to grow rapidly.

To make sure that happens, some of publishing’s biggest names are joining the Windows bench. The New York Times, Bonnier and Condé Nast have all pledged their allegience – the latter already has 14 mags on sale for Windows 8 devices, while Bonnier has 16.

More will duly follow, but seeing the biggest names in the game involved is a promising start. The only problem? Well, have digital magazines already had their day?

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Windows 8 is an actual thing! How to upgrade right now http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/26/windows-8-is-an-actual-thing-how-to-upgrade-right-now/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/26/windows-8-is-an-actual-thing-how-to-upgrade-right-now/#comments Fri, 26 Oct 2012 09:57:04 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=467053

After months and months of waiting and a drip-feed of information, Microsoft has finally launched Windows 8. The next generation operating software is a bold departure from the Windows of yore, but whether you like it or not, there’s no denying its freshness. Wanna see what all the fuss is about?

Windows 8 is now available to buy on new devices or as an upgrade to existing machines. The new OS is a huge departure from previous iterations, infusing the bulk of your day-to-day computing with the Metro UI language (live tiles and the like), and stuffing touch control into every corner of the experience.

Is the PC cool again?

Wander into your local computer shop from today onwards, and you’re unlikely to see a new PC running Windows 7: all new PCs, laptops and tablets will now ship Windows 8 as standard.

If you’re currently on an older version of the software, you can make the jump pretty cheaply; any Windows 7 machines bought between 2 June 2012 and 31 January 2013 can upgrade for £14.99 from Microsoft’s website, while anyone else will be able to upgrade for the still highly reasonable £24.99.

Here’s an official Windows 8 video to get you hyped up…

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New iPod and iPad mini ads: Why Apple’s back on world class form http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/25/new-ipod-and-ipad-mini-ads/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/25/new-ipod-and-ipad-mini-ads/#comments Thu, 25 Oct 2012 15:24:54 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=466296

The iPad mini and the new iPods are big news for Apple. Not because the products themselves are swish, but because they’ve been ushered into existence with the best ads that Apple’s managed to make for some years. Welcome back to the top tier of ad-making… 

Apple used to be brilliant at adverts. In the early days of the iPod, colourful commercials with well-chosen music and those iconic silhouettes were everywhere, and so famous that they were often lampooned. And then, suddenly, things stopped being quite so iconic.

Apple invites and the art of communication

For the past, ooh, let’s say two years, Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod adverts have all been nice, but they’ve not been particularly memorable. There’s been something of a slump.

But, miraculously, that slump now seems to be over, thanks to this:

What a brilliantly-made ad. The song choice is almost perfect, and the whole thing tells you everything you need to know about the new iPod lineup without having to say a word. It’s fun, it’s energetic and it’s brief – brief enough to leave you a little bit bamboozled. In a good way.

So that’s good, but it could be a one-off, right? Nope; the announcement ad for the iPad mini is just as inspired, but in an altogether different way. Again, there’s no voiceover, but it tells you all you need to know:

The message is that you can still do all the same stuff you could do on the original (in this case music making) – you won’t be losing out. And it says that very elegantly.

In short: we’re impressed. Either someone’s been fired or someone’s been hired at Apple, because these two ads are a country mile smarter than what’s been oozing out of Cupertino for the past few product cycles. Kudos.

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Lovefilm lands on Amazon Kindle Fire tabs: IMDb superpowers now included http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/25/lovefilm-lands-on-amazon-kindle-fire-tabs-imdb-superpowers-now-included/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/25/lovefilm-lands-on-amazon-kindle-fire-tabs-imdb-superpowers-now-included/#comments Thu, 25 Oct 2012 15:15:00 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=466149

Lovefilm, the DVD rental-turned streaming service which is owned by Amazon, has spent the past year battling against Netflix for the top spot on the UK movie streaming charts. Will the service’s integration with the dirt-cheap Amazon Kindle Fire tabs give it a leg up in the run up to Christmas? And can a stellar new feature tip it over the edge?

“The minute customers turn on their Kindle Fire HD they will have instant access to our vast content ecosystem of apps, games, songs, books and magazines, plus thousands of fantastic movies and TV shows from Lovefilm,” said Amazon Europe’s Kindle VP Jorrit Van der Meulen.

Amazon claims that the UK-based movie streaming service is “deeply integrated” into the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, which it’s hoping will give it a boost over the festive season.

Netflix slags off Lovefilm’s streaming tech

On top of the standard movie streaming, Amazon’s injected some magic from another of its big properties – IMDb. The new “X-Ray for Movies” feature lets you access the database’s reams of info on the fly without leaving the movie-watching experience – letting you look up actors, scenes and trivia.

The Kindle Fire (£159) and Kindle Fire HD (£219) both come with a month’s free trial to Lovefilm.

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Apple’s secret mind games: Why security leaks are worth the risk http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/24/apples-secret-mind-games/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/24/apples-secret-mind-games/#comments Wed, 24 Oct 2012 14:20:09 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=465228

Apple likes to keep things schtum. When you walk into an Apple Store to buy your brand new iProduct, chances are it didn’t officially exist the day or the week before. This is unusual in the tech world, and that’s probably because it’s pretty bloody hard to keep these things under wraps. Still, Apple tries all the same, because the buzz that a secret generates is impossible to recreate when a launch is long and drawn out.

And, more importantly, you love it. The secrecy game twiddles with your brain bits in such a way as to get you out of bed and into line outside the store when you might otherwise not. The question is: is it all worth the effort?

The truth will out

“We’re doubling down on secrecy,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook at this year’s D: All Things Digital conference. And he meant it. On Monday, ArsTechnica posted a feature explaining that sources inside Apple had (somewhat ironically) revealed under anonymity that things were tighter than ever inside the Cupertino HQ. New products now have to be carried around under black cloth, as if they’ll melt in the sunlight.

iPad mini official: Read all about it

And yet, things still leak. Howzat? Well, you can be tighter than the arse on Scrooge McDuck, but if your supply chain resides on a different continent, your grip can’t help but weaken. And that’s the problem here: Apple’s shiny things are made in China, and that end of things tends to be a lot looser in the lip area.

That’s why the iPhone 5 was no real surprise: we’d all seen its chassis and innards months in advance. They sprang up on shady videos and in teardowns. You never know whether to trust these sources fully, but when multiple pics of the same thing start appearing from different corners of China, you can fairly safely assume that you know what’s coming.

Prior to last night’s launch, leaks for the iPad mini had been a bit less concrete, but there were leaks – we all knew that it was coming, and had done for months. And this wasn’t from analyst guesswork – the iPad mini rumours all emanated from the source in China. The iPad mini wasn’t a surprise.

Leaky leaky drums up buzzy

But, all is not as it appears. For every three leaks that Apple wishes hadn’t happened, and every iPhone 4 prototype that stays for one extra pint as its owner goes home, there’s one or two that Apple will have orchestrated.

The Wall Street Journal is the place to go for these such ‘mistakes’: the publication has a special relationship with Apple, akin to the UK’s with America. i.e. No one invades each other, we invite each other round for tea and there’s also a secret club handshake.

For the WSJ, the handshake is an exchange of information for buzz; Apple drip feeds info and the WSJ publishes it, thus seeding the entire tech news world with the same story. Sure, some are red herrings, but enough wild tales are true to keep people chomping at Apple’s bit.

It’s half misdirection and half Pavlovian conditioning, and it ensures that there’s always a healthy stream of tiny particles of news floating about ahead of a product launch.

But… Why?

Ok, so Apple does let some secrets spill, and it keeps others safe. And, above all else, it tries to keep us guessing. Why? Simple, really: you are a human person with a human brain, and you feed on excitement.

Let’s look at the alternative angle.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced its own tablet: the Surface. It was unveiled at a glossy keynote that took place in June. It’s now late October, and the thing still isn’t on sale.

In Apple time, that four month gap is basically a whole product cycle. It’s madness, but Microsoft is hardly alone in this. Most mobile phone manufacturers, as well as the vast majority of computer and tablet vendors, announce their wares months in advance as standard practice.

And, really, they are fundamentally misunderstanding the benefits in Apple’s methods.

When the Surface debuted, it was a complete surprise. No one expected it. No parts had leaked. No one knew it was coming. But that’s not difficult to achieve when you announce the thing the nanosecond it rolls off the last conveyer belt.

It’s easy to keep secrets on that time frame. If you announce something as soon as you can, but actually release it several months later, what have you achieved? Mild surprise, followed by dwindling interest. And then at the point of launch, a lackluster queue for ‘that thing that they talked about ages ago’ which now feels strangely out of date, even if it’s not.

What Apple does, is to not give that initial interest enough time to burn away. Your interest bubbles because the new iSomething is a secret, and then suddenly, not only is it not secret any more, but it’s on bloody sale next week! Or tomorrow! And you simply must have it! Gaaagh!

The excitable bits of your head get all swept up in the furore. Suddenly, not only do you have to compute the existence of a new thing, you’re watching the adverts for the new thing and you’re having to get in line for it all at once.

The all-powerful buzz

The long and short of it is, well… The difference between the long and short of it – Apple products tend to leak, but that’s because they have a bigger window of time to do so. The iPad mini isn’t only just ready for it’s announcement; it’s only just ready for general release – with all the manufacturing, shipping, pricing agreements and distribution that that entails.

All of that means that Apple devices have to pass through a huge amount of grubby people and grubbier hands, so spilled secrets are inevitable. But the end result is definitely worth it. Apple would rather that you have an inkling of what’s coming, and then have access to it immediately, than to be caught by complete surprise and face a lengthy wait. This is because it knows how the consumer mind works. Or how the brain works full stop.

These delicately maintained secrecy mind games are in place to exploit you, and it works. Apple will continue to run the ‘leaks’ risk forever, because exploiting you always results in huge amounts of buzz, hype and – crucially – sales.

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New Macs: Apple’s super-thin iMac, Retina MacBook Pro and Mac Mini http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/23/new-macs-2012/ http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2012/10/23/new-macs-2012/#comments Tue, 23 Oct 2012 19:04:04 +0000 Adam Bunker http://www.electricpig.co.uk/?p=464444

Apple CEO Tim Cook stood in front of a packed crowd in the US this evening to announce a few things. The big ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ may have been reserved for the iPad mini, but the tiny tab wasn’t the only thing to break cover. Apple’s new Macs are a sight to behold.


The new iMac is glorious. Its chassis has been redesigned to taper at the edges, meaning that each side is just 5mm thick. The body then curves round at the back to house the new tech – the effect of which is that, when viewed at the right angle, it looks crazy thin.

Inside, Apple’s bumped the iMac up to the Intel Ivy Bridge processors and 1TB of hard drive space as standard – flash storage is optional, and goes up to 768GB.

The biggest news here is that there’s no optical drive – yep Apple’s finally cutting the cord when it comes to CDs. Or adding a cord, as the case may be. Either way, there’s just no room in the new iMac for that drive to exist. Like the current-gen, the new iMac is available in 21.5-inch and 27-inch models, the former of which will be available in November, and the latter in early December.

iPad mini: You want one

13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro

Since the 15-inch MacBook Pro has been shaved down and had the Retina treatment, it’s only fair that the 13-inch does too. That 13-inch Retina Display boasts a resoultion of 2560 x 1600, which is four times that of the standard MacBook Pro.

It’s now just 3.5lbs and 0.75-inches thick when closed, which is mighty portable, if not quite at the same level as the MacBook Air. Inside, there’s intel Ivy Bridge i5 or i7 processors with up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 750GB of flash storage.

Mac Mini

The Mac Mini, Apple’s littlest desktop Mac, has been updated to use Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, offer more memory and packs in new hybrid hard drives which use Flash for a boost in performance.

The new Mac Mini can hold up to 16GB of memory, but starts at the same price as its predecessor.

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