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Gerard's Blog

Gadgets, Photography, Marmite on Toast

So after I downloaded the Android 4.4 (KitKat) update for my HTC One this week it appears that HTC have pulled the update from general availability.  I was curious about exactly why this was since whatever cause them to remove it has now been installed on my phone.  I started a chat with HTC UK support, asking them what had caused the withdrawal:

Roman P:  Dear HTC One customer,

The current release of Android 4.4 (KitKat) software has been temporarily taken off line. As HTC are committed to quality and providing the best customer experience possible we made this decision. This is temporary so please stay tuned over the next few days for a new release. We appreciate your patience

Roman P:  Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Gerard Krupa:  You could answer the question I asked instead of pasting your script

Gerard Krupa:  If there is a flaw in the firmware I’ve installed on my phone severe enough that it was removed from general availability I think it’s only reasonable that I should be informed what serious problem it might now be suffering from

Roman P:  We cannot comment anything about KitKat update. Please understand my position. I have to follow comapny (sic) policy as well.

So it seems that HTC have instructed their first line support not to provide any information on what caused the withdrawal leaving those of us who installed it while it was available with some unknown bug or security flaw infecting our devices.  This certainly doesn’t inspire me to give any more of my cash to the struggling handset manufacturer.

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February 27th, 2014

Posted In: Phones, Problems

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The nVidia Shield isn’t officially available in the UK but there’s at least one reseller on Amazon who’s importing them and selling them over here for around £255.  I’ve tried some different Android gaming solutions (the laggy Ouya with its proprietary app store and nagging e-mails, the good but somehow clunky Moga Pro and plain old touch-screen controls).  nVidia’s offering, to me at least, is by far the best solution to date.  The Tegra 4 processor is excellent, especially in those games that are optimised for it and the device is solid feeling if a little heavy.  The 720p screen is only a smidge on the small side but very crisp and bright and (here’s where it wins over the Moga) adjustable to a good range of angles.

Battery life is OK though not great.  If I spend my lunch hour playing Asphalt 8 and the rest of the day on standby then it will be in need of a charge by the end of the day despite that hefty weight, a good portion of which you’d imagine is due to the battery.  Sound is sufficiently clear enough from the speakers though I spend most of my time with headphones connected.

If there’s one serious flaw in the device I’d say it’s the stability.  The Tegra Zone app crashes frequently when trying to jump to a game’s Google Play page and Asphalt 8 occasionally has a flaw where the car select screen gets stuck in a rapid loop of navigating to the next vehicle which is only solved by quitting the app entirely (can’t say whether that’s a device issue or the game but I never suffered from this when paying on the Moga and HTC One).  The landscape orientation can also cause some issues such as the keyboard occupying most of the screen or on the Marvin ZX Spectrum Emulator (an app designed for portrait mode phones) having no keyboard at all.  It’s not really a failing of the device and portrait mode is supported but it’s very awkward.  If you’re not familiar with Android, be warned – not all games support external controllers but the Shield has a control-mapping overlay as a sort of controller shim.

Sadly as I have a slightly outdated 580GTX video card and no Miracast device I wasn’t able to test any of the Shield’s display mirroring features.

The price of the device is high compared with other mobile consoles such as the PSP and Vita but the availability of (admittedly non AAA) games at relatively cheap prices (consider the £35 price of Angry Birds Trilogy on Vita vs the £2-3 Android price if you don’t succumb to micro-transactions) and the quality of the hardware made it a worthwhile purchase for me.

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February 25th, 2014

Posted In: Gadgets, Gaming

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Received the following e-mail from the Swiss e-commerce ombudsman this morning.  Doesn’t really help me get either the pen or a refund but at least they’re taking steps to prevent further victims being scammed:

Dear Sir,

We try to get in contact with unmanageable Mr Monnin by phone. If we don’t success, we’ll give you further advice how to go ahead and we will take ourselves steps that his homepage will be taken from the internet.
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February 19th, 2014

Posted In: Gadgets, Problems

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So the last deadline has passed with no pen and no more word from Monnin & co.  I’ve now requested that the Swiss consumer ombudsman deal with the matter.  I strongly recommend that everyone avoids this company.  I can’t help but wonder if Monnin’s other company (Novatiq, a company that claims to make military robots and hasn’t posted any news on their site for 2 years) is also all smoke and mirrors.

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February 3rd, 2014

Posted In: Gadgets, Problems

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