The week in gadgets: Kindle Paperwhite and a stylish take on the humble home phone

28 Jan 2013

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Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite

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A look at gadget happenings, as the Kindle Paperwhite goes global, Huawei makes its way up the charts in the smartphone market, UrbanHello bring us a home phone that could make you want to hold onto your landline, drivers get smart to drive down insurance costs, and Nokia is rumoured to be bringing out a fully fledged PureView Windows Phone later this year.

The Kindle Paperwhite goes international

Amazon.com will has begun shipping the Kindle Paperwhite to more than 175 countries, including Ireland. Starting at US$139, the 6-inch e-reader is subject to VAT charges that will be estimated at check-out and prices for e-books, magazines and newspapers to read on the device will be priced and deducted in dollars – but who cares when you have a backlit e-reader with a high-contrast 1,024 x 768 resolution E-Ink display that claims eight weeks of battery life, right?

Titles available for readers will vary country by country as Amazon continues in its efforts to secure rights for every market. And, no, you still can’t get a Kindle device shipped to Ireland from Amazon.co.uk, so don’t even try.

Huawei enters the top 3

According to IDC, Huawei has shot up the charts to become the world’s No 3 smartphone vendor in Q4 2012. Samsung held onto its position at the top, having set a new record for the number of smartphones shipped in a single quarter and in a single year, while Apple, which also saw record iPhone shipments in Q4, held steady at No 2.

Normally making up the top 10, this is a first time for Huawei to reach the dizzying heights of the top 3 and IDC attributes this to its combination of mass market appeal through simple and inexpensive smartphones and premium handsets for the high-end market.

IDC smartphone shipments Q4 2012

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, 24 January, 2013

Looking at the full-year figures from IDC, Nokia beat out HTC to the No 3 spot behind Samsung and Apple, while Research in Motion rounded out the top 5. Overall, 545.3m smartphones shipped worldwide in 2012, up 10.1pc from 2011, and in Q4 smartphones accounted for their highest ever share of all mobile phone shipments at 45.5pc.

IDC smartphone shipments 2012

Source: IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, 24 January, 2013

A redesigned phone for the home

Landline phones won’t be put out to pasture any time soon if UrbanHello has any say in it. Its Home Phone is just what it says on the tin: a landline phone designed for modern homes.

UrbanHello Home Phone

The wireless phone comes with a HD audio system and two OLED displays at the top and the bottom alongside a simple keypad. The best feature of the Home Phone is that when set down in an upright position it automatically becomes a speakerphone, projecting sound in 360 degrees from its cylindrical speaker.

UrbanHello Home Phone

It might just be a Kickstarter project for now, but it has already gained notice and awards from trade shows. UrbanHello is seeking support for certification and production aimed at the US market, and its crowdfunding run ends on 14 February.

Smart drivers take no nonsense

No Nonsense, the car insurance company with the really great ads, is offering drivers the chance to prove how safe they are – and lower their premiums – by using the SmartDriver device. By opting to plug this box into your car for six months, drivers could receive 30pc cash back for safe driving after just 90 days.

The device uses state-of-the-art telematics technology employed by more than 60pc of car insurance firms in the UK to track basic information like acceleration, braking, cornering, distance, time and date, and frequency of driving. By sending this information back to No Nonsense, they have a better way to calculate premiums instead of basing them on profiling questions.

Real-deal PureView coming to Windows Phone this year?

Code named ‘EOS’, Nokia is rumoured to be preparing its first real PureView Windows Phone for launch later this year. PureView technology was first introduced with the Nokia 808 PureView, debuted at last year’s Mobile World Congress. This device uses a pixel oversampling technique to reduce images shot at 41MP resolution to a smaller size, enabling high definition, advanced light sensitivity and lossless zoom from a smartphone camera.

However, the PureView technology that came with the Lumia 920 wasn’t the real deal, with a more typically sized 8MP sensor and none of the impressive zooming or depth of field capabilities of the 808, and some fans were disappointed.

However, sources told The Verge that this new high-end Lumia smartphone will have a similar sensor to the Nokia 808 PureView, but upgraded. It’s also expected that the EOS, and other handsets from Nokia’s 2013 range, will be encased in aluminium as opposed to the previous polycarbonate Windows Phone Lumias.

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com