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Nigel Whitfield

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EE TV Freeview PVR

Four tuner frenzy: The all-you-can-EEat TV Freeview PVR

Review Television's a lot smarter than it used to be, and there's an ever-increasing number of ways that the basic experience can be enhanced, whether it's by providing extra Over-The-Top (OTT) content with services such as Netflix, or convenient features, such as the ability to set recordings when you're out and about, using text …
Nigel Whitfield, 15 Dec 2014
Ollie by Sphero

Are you a Geek Dad/Uncle/Mum/Aunt? Ten Techy Gifts for kids this Xmas

Product Roundup It's that time again. Get ready to dig deep into your pockets, and spend your hard earned cash on gifts for the kids, the nieces and nephews, the neighbour's sprog and just about everyone else who's flung their arms round your knees and cooed "Unkle" appealingly. If you're torn between bankruptcy and a whole string of people …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 Dec 2014
The Rugby Tuning Coil

The Information Age: A day out for grown-up children?

Exhibition Review The Science Museum's new Information Age gallery opened in October to great fanfare. Most of that fanfare, however, was concerned with an elderly lady having sent a tweet, rather than the substance of the exhibition itself. Youtube Video So, with the Christmas holidays upon us, and a pressing need to find things to fill up the …
Nigel Whitfield, 06 Dec 2014
The Trax app gives you an 'augumented reality' view to help find the kids

Be your own Big Brother: With the help of Apple, Facebook ... oh, HANG ON

So far in this series, we've looked at ways of monitoring specific things, but this time round, people are the topic. There are, the media would have you believe, dreadful things out there – predators lurking behind every corner, dreadful accidents waiting to befall the unwary. The Trax app gives you an 'augumented reality' …
Nigel Whitfield, 30 Nov 2014

Festive streamers caught in Vulture's claws: Gadget-ogle for audiophiles, video geeks

Breaking Fad What was your first streaming device? Over recent months, there has been a glut of them, but the first to find a space on my network was a Roku SoundBridge (or, more accurately, Pinnacle SoundBridge HomeMusic, as it was known in the UK). Soundbridge Streaming devices have come a long way in a short time Soundbridge Streaming …
Nigel Whitfield, 28 Nov 2014
Monty Python dead parrot sketch

BAD SANTA: Don't get ripped off this Christmas

Feature The season of horror and expense will soon be upon us, and with it lots of gift guides telling you what you should be forking out for. But before we get stuck into that, how you should buy it is just as important. Youtube Video As the recent collapse of Phones4U showed, even something as simple as choosing the wrong way to pay …
Nigel Whitfield, 16 Nov 2014
Koubachi plant monitor

Be Your Own Big Brother: Going to pot

Feature A lot of the tech we've looked at so far in this series has been for safety – like monitoring seniors – or curiosity, like pet tracking. Another very useful area is productivity... and we don't mean the sort that involves management jargon. We're talking horticulture. With the right tech, even the least green-fingered of us …
Nigel Whitfield, 09 Nov 2014
Charlie Chaplin The Cure (1917)

Making an entrance: Remote door-opening tech

Breaking Fad For a lot of Reg readers, home automation is probably an internal affair – that is, if you're using technology, it's probably to control things inside the home, like heating, lighting and so on. And indeed, that also makes up the bulk of what's available when it comes to the major suppliers. Youtube Video One area that's fairly …
Nigel Whitfield, 30 Oct 2014
Cat on computer

Be Your Own Big Brother: Peeking at pussy

Feature Last year, the BBC's Horizon programme treated the cats of a Surrey village to individual cameras, and their own prime-time spot on TV to share the results. And now the Beeb is at it again with Cat Watch 2014, hoping to find out a little more about what our feline companions get up to. Youtube Video Whether you're a dog or a …
Nigel Whitfield, 12 Oct 2014
Vintage electric lamps

A moment of brilliance? UPnP for Internet of Stuff lightbulbs

Breaking Fad Home automation can be a lot of fun. However, it can also be the cause of an awful lot of headaches. So, you thought those remote control plug sockets from the DIY store were a good deal? Vintage electric lamps Shedding light on compatibility issues Maybe they were ... and then you find, when you get them home, that they use …
Nigel Whitfield, 01 Oct 2014

Cable guy, Games of Thrones chap team up to make Reg 'best sci-fi film never made' reject

It wasn't quite good enough for you lot, but it looks like Kim Stanley Robinson's award-winning Mars Trilogy is set for TV adaptation. Fans of Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars (insert RGB joke here...) can look forward to a forthcoming adaptation of the series, after the announcement by cable TV channel Spike TV that it's …
Nigel Whitfield, 01 Oct 2014
Alf Garnett and Else

Be your own Big Brother: Keeping an eye on Mum and Dad

Feature Time was, when relatives started to get old, they'd move into the spare bedroom. My grandmother's generation seemed to do a lot of that, with assorted great aunts taking up residence. But it's much less common now. Else and Alf Garnett, Mike and Rita Fancy an alternative to regular visits to Mum and Dad? Source: BBC, Till …
Nigel Whitfield, 27 Sep 2014
DTS interactive audio

Fake tape detectors, 'from the stands' footie and UGH! Internet of Things in my set-top box

IBC 2014 At this time of year, the tech press is often focused on IFA, the massive electronics show in Berlin where many companies unveil their latest products, including smartphones, flatter, curvier TVs than ever before, and all manner of other things. Taking place a week later in Amsterdam, IBC, the International Broadcasting …
Nigel Whitfield, 24 Sep 2014
Withings Home camera

Be your own Big Brother: Monitoring your manor, the easy way

Feature If you've ever had the misfortune to be burgled, you'll know how nervous it can make you feel. After my own experience some twenty years ago, it took a long time before I could leave the flat without fretting, and perhaps using my new-fangled mobile phone to call the home computer and check that it was still there to answer the …
Nigel Whitfield, 14 Sep 2014
Wired for sound

Pimp my lounge and pierce my ceiling: Home theatre goes OTT

Breaking Fad As Steve May wrote in the previous Breaking Fad, Dolby Atmos for the home is an impressive sound system, and this year will see the release of a range of kit that supports it from several manufacturers. Wired for sound Multichannel hi-fi upgrades are getting more and more complex Does that mean it's going to be the next big …
Nigel Whitfield, 02 Sep 2014
Gold Blend TV ad

Best shot: Coffee - how do you brew?

Review Youtube Video Whether it's to wake us up or keep us coding, for many techies coffee is an essential part of our daily ritual. With my bean-to-cup machine away being repaired, I've had to find other ways to get my fix. (required by the license) Coyau / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 When all else fails, there's "moka" java on …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Aug 2014
Freeview becomes Feeview

4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles

Breaking Fad For fans of terrestrial television, this is the best of times and this is the worst of times. The DVB consortium has recently produced a draft specification for Ultra High Definition aka 4K, fitting the UHD video within the standard transport streams that are already used for SD and HD. As evidenced by the BBC's current closed …
Nigel Whitfield, 30 Jul 2014
Apple Homekit prototype pics?

Home automation while it's hot: Winter warmth for lazy technophiles

Breaking Fad Home is not just a place for the family; it's also becoming a place that tech companies are fighting over as they scramble to develop home automation equipment for lazy savvy suburbanites. Video clip of TV sitcom character Frank Spencer catastrophically failing to engage with an automated home. 1980s vintage clip. Of course, …
Nigel Whitfield, 24 Jun 2014
Sony KD-84X9005 84in 4K LED TV

4K-ing hell! Will your shiny new Ultra HD TV actually display HD telly?

Feature With just about every TV maker showing off 4K sets at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, and companies like Netflix promising to have content available in the format, it’s tempting to think that if you’re buying a new TV, 4K may be worth a look. Or, at least, worth hanging on for until it’s more sensibly …
Nigel Whitfield, 20 Jan 2014
Casio calculator

Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Retro roundup Until sometime in the early 1980s, when you reached secondary school you were handed a slim book full of numbers during a maths lesson and taught how to use log tables. Sines, cosines, tangents, square roots - they were all in there too. While it made a change from long division, it caused its own share of headaches. But, to a …
Nigel Whitfield, 03 Jan 2014

Gift-giving gotchas: How to avoid Xmas morning EMBARRASSMENT

You might think, what with gift buying out of the way, the hard work of the holiday season is largely done. Not so. Before you reach for the wrapping paper and sticky tape, there’s a fair bit more you can do to ensure a trouble- and tantrum-free Christmas Day. Batteries not included If you’ve been buying gadgets, don’t forget …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Dec 2013
Milton Bradley Big Trak

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear

Xmas Round-up Christmas isn’t just a time for celebration – it’s also a time for bitter, tearful reflection on the things that might have been and the gifts you’d have received if only you worked harder at that paper round, or your parents loved you enough. So we at The Reg decided to sift the salty tears of seasonal recrimination and seek …
Nigel Whitfield, 12 Dec 2013
Ciseco Pi-Lite

Ten top tech toys to interface with a techie’s Christmas stocking

Xmas Round-up ‘Tis the season for dropping unsubtle hints about gifts that YOU’D like to receive, or – if you prefer – for making a list of things that you would buy for nephews and nieces but, because you’re an evil misanthropic Uncle or Auntie, you’ll buy for yourself instead. At least that way there’ll be no tantrums round the tree and …
Nigel Whitfield, 11 Dec 2013

Have Brits fallen for Netflix, or do they still LoveFilm?

Feature BBC iPlayer turned five at Christmas, and the Corporation reported some pretty impressive usage statistics as it did so. While iPlayer is something of a juggernaut in the IPTV world, it’s only relatively recently made the leap from PC to living room and connected devices such as smart TVs and set-top boxes. Arguably 2012 was …
Nigel Whitfield, 25 Jan 2013
Toshiba's Viewster

Why do Smart TV UIs suck?

Feature Years ago, TVs were simple. My grandparents’ set, for example, had a single channel-change button which clunked through to the next VHF preset each time you pushed it. My own family's TV had two standards, enabling us to “Switch to U for BBC 2” in time for Play Away. Inevitably, matters have became much more complicated than …
Nigel Whitfield, 21 Nov 2012
TVonics HV250

Administrator eyes DVR firesale after TVonics collapse

UK DVR maker TVonics has gone into administration. The maker of Freeview HD recorders, including the DTR-Z500HD and DTR-HD500, was placed in the hands of Bell Advisory on 12 June. And, though it’s been in administration before and survived, back in 2008, things don’t look good this time round. A spokesman confirmed today that …
Nigel Whitfield, 27 Jun 2012
Draytek Vigor 2820

Soup up your home network

Gizmo Week Reg Hardware Gizmo Week logo small There can’t be many Reg Hardware readers who don’t have a home network. In fact, these days you’d have to look hard indeed to find an ISP that sells its connection as strictly single PC only and just tosses in a USB modem rather than some sort of router. A decade or so ago, just about any …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 Apr 2012
Nest Labs' Nest

The Hardware Hacker's Guide to Home Automation

Gizmo Week Reg Hardware Gizmo Week logo small The home of the future is a staple of both speculative fiction and comedy. Back in the 1970s, Frank Spencer caused havoc in an automated home during an episode of Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em. For some of us, the enduring image of home automation is either Michael Crawford chaos, worthy but dull …
Nigel Whitfield, 11 Apr 2012
BBC logo

WTF... should I pay to download BBC shows?

Feature The outgoing Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, recently announced plans for Project Barcelona, a download store for material from the BBC archives. At the moment, you can watch most BBC programmes for seven days after broadcast, free of charge using iPlayer. In a few cases, a whole series may be available for a little …
Nigel Whitfield, 20 Mar 2012
Roku 2 XS IPTV player

Roku 2 XS IPTV player

Review In the US, Roku has ridden to prominence on the back of services like Netflix and Hulu, and the phenomenon of ‘cord cutting’, where people discontinue pay TV services in favour of, well, paid IPTV services. That’s perhaps not surprising when their entry level box costs less than £40 including tax for US customers. Roku 2 XS …
Nigel Whitfield, 24 Feb 2012
Heatmiser PRS-TS WiFi RF Thermostat

Heatmiser PRT-TS Wi-Fi RF thermostat

Review With fuel bills ever rising, keeping an eye on your heating makes good sense, and Heatmiser’s Wi-Fi thermostat is intended to help you do just that. It’s based around a large, 3 x 2.5in touchscreen, which controls a timer/thermostat with its wireless features enabling configuration from an iOS device. Heatmiser PRS-TS WiFi RF …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Feb 2012
Sleeper

21st Century Sex: the shape of things to come

NSFW Reg Hardware Sex Week In the 1980s, when the first HIV and AIDS awareness campaigns were launched, alongside the crashing tombstones, leaflets gave frank advice about the risks involved in digital intercourse. In those days, of course, that just meant pleasuring someone with your fingers. Concerns about computers and sex …
Nigel Whitfield, 14 Feb 2012
Netflix vs Lovefilm

Netflix vs Lovefilm

IPTV Week IPTV Week logo This month, at long last, US video streaming giant Netflix finally arrived on UK shores, with a £5.99 all-you-can-eat offering. It was swiftly matched by the local incumbent, Lovefilm. The Amazon-owned company pitched a streaming-only option at an introductory £4.99. But which is the best option for Reg …
Nigel Whitfield, 26 Jan 2012
Reg Hardware IPTV Week

IPTV UK: what's on tonight?

IPTV Week IPTV Week logo 2012 looks like it stands a good chance of being the year that IPTV really starts to go mainstream, with more services and a good range of content appearing built in to TVs and other devices, not to mention the web. And, of course, the launch of YouView will help raise the profile of IPTV still further in the …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Jan 2012
3D_Glasses_SM

Strictly Come Dancing in 3D: the facts

Apparently some Brits are keen on the BBC's playground for sparkly attired hoofers, Strictly Come Dancing, which comes to its latest grand final this Saturday. Tech watchers have an interest too: it's one of the first BBC shows to be transmitted in 3D via Freeview HD. Don't want to miss the 'action'? Gone Digital's Nigel …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 Dec 2011
Smart TVs

Smart TV shootout

Review It’s about 18 months since I last rounded up internet-connected TVs - or "Smart TVs" as they’re now being named by all the manufacturers these days. Since then, all the brands have upped their game considerably, and just about all of their offerings are much more powerful than the 2009 models I looked at last time. As before, I' …
Nigel Whitfield, 29 Nov 2011
BBC logo

Inside the BBC's R&D Labs

Whatever your views on its programming, it is hard to deny that the BBC’s research labs have produced some pretty clever things over the years. Teletext, RDS and Nicam stereo are just some of the more well known ones, but the R&D Lab is also responsible for much of the work on the DVB-T2 standard that makes Freeview HD possible …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Nov 2011
Bluetooth 4.0

WTF is... Bluetooth 4.0?

Apple's iPhone 4S, which went on sale last week, is the first phone to support version four of the Bluetooth standard. That makes it something of a flag-waver for the technology. But with most users happy to make do with Bluetooth 2 - Bluetooth 3 is out but seemingly little used - does this matter? And what the heck does …
Nigel Whitfield, 20 Oct 2011
HbbTV logo small

WTF is... HbbTV?

Connected TV is all the rage. Every major brand has its own IPTV platform, such as Panasonic's VieraConnect or Samsung's Smart TV, offering a mix of catch-up services and additional content like movie trailers and YouTube access. As it stands, content providers need to work with TV and set-top box makers to integrate their …
Nigel Whitfield, 28 Sep 2011
iRobot Roomba 780

iRobot Roomba 780 automated vacuum cleaner

Review The Roomba is the most widely known of the robot cleaners, and with competition mounting, the company, iRobot, has not been sitting on its laurels. The Roomba 780 is the latest model, and boasts a larger collecting bin, built in scheduling and HEPA filters. iRobot Roomba 780 iRobot's Roomba 780 boasts improved battery …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 Sep 2011
Neato Robotics XV-15 vacuum cleaner

Neato Robotics XV-15 vacuum cleaner

Review Robot vacuum cleaners are becoming increasingly popular, with a few companies joining Roomba in the market over the last couple of years. Neato is the latest to offer a product in the UK, with the XV-15 which boasts laser mapping, and a powerful vacuum – some of the other models are careful to describe themselves as cleaners …
Nigel Whitfield, 22 Aug 2011
Jura Impressa F-90

WTF are... connected appliances?

The ‘internet fridge’ is a much-loved staple of futurologists. In some rosy and not-too-far-off future, many kitchens will have one, magically replenishing itself so that you never need run out of black pudding or milk. When you’re low on such essentials, the fridge will automatically order new ones from the supermarket, and …
Nigel Whitfield, 21 Jun 2011
IPv6

Get your network ready for World IPv6 Day

Hands On Today is World IPv6 Day, so you might be wondering just how easy it is to run IPv6 on your own home network. The answer is that it’s surprisingly simple, and even if you can’t yet get IPv6 connectivity from your internet provider, it’s still possible to connect your PC – or indeed your whole network – to the IPv6 internet. …
Nigel Whitfield, 08 Jun 2011
Echostar HDS-600RS

Echostar HDS-600RS Freesat HD recorder

Review Freesat, launched three years ago, hasn’t quite caught the imagination in the same way as Freeview HD, but if you don’t have terrestrial coverage, or you want more channels than Freeview provides, without having to go for pay TV, it’s a good option. Echostar HDS-600RS Echostar's HDS-600RS includes Slingbox functionality for …
Nigel Whitfield, 03 Jun 2011
Monty P

How to choose the right screen size

How big is big enough? It’s a question many of us have asked, as we cruise the aisles of Currys or John Lewis, looking for a new TV. It’s all too easy to be seduced by a special offer, or by extra features like net connectivity, and end up with a TV that’s larger than you anticipated. And while you might make space for a jumbo …
Nigel Whitfield, 19 May 2011
The Register breaking news

YouView confirms Technicolor exit

Set-top box maker Technicolor has pulled out of the YouView internet TV project. Originally announced as one of the "technology partners" that would be among the first to bring YouView-compatible products to market – a date that’s slipped from this coming summer to early 2012 – Technicolor has apparently decided not to go ahead …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 May 2011
The Register breaking news

Peugeot compo cam aids amateur espionage

Car company Peugeot has a competition on its website, in which you have to find hidden 3008s. It features some astonishing panoramic shots of London, taken sometime last summer, from the top of CentrePoint. You can zoom in, and if you go full screen, it’s pretty impressive. Here’s an overview: Peugeot cam One thing that …
Nigel Whitfield, 13 May 2011
IPv6

WTF is... IPv6?

On the 8 June, it’ll be World IPv6 Day – a coordinated effort by major services on the internet, including Google and Facebook, to provide their services using the new version of the Internet Protocol. It’s part of the plans to cope with internet addresses ‘running out'. But just what is IPv6 - and what does it mean for most …
Nigel Whitfield, 10 May 2011
TVOnics DTR-Z500HD

TVonics DTR-Z500HD Freeview HD DVR

Review Back in October 2010, Reg Hardware looked at TVonics’ first Freeview HD recorder, the curiously styled DTR-HD500. The DTR-Z500HD is a more conventional 'shoe box' shape, though much smaller than many of the others I’ve looked at, but it once again packs in a good spec. TVonics DTR-HD500 DTR-Z500HD: a more sober design than the …
Nigel Whitfield, 30 Apr 2011
4k x 2k

WTF is... 4K x 2K?

If you’re a keen Reg Hardware reader, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already got a high definition TV, and possibly a Blu-ray player too. Technology, of course, doesn’t stop there. While the switch over from analogue 405-lines to 625-line broadcasts - and TVs - took decades, changes occur more swiftly in the digital …
Nigel Whitfield, 14 Apr 2011