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Christmas Issue 2011


e-Readers, Your Portable Library The market for e-books has exploded in recent years, with Amazon now selling more e-books than hardbacks and paperbacks combined. You can now get a huge range of books in e-book format, from casual reading to text books. But, you still have to choose which one is best for you, so here’s a break down of the main competitors in the UK. The eReaders in this are all from suppliers, so you can buy e-books directly from the supplier.


t the moment, you can get two types of Amazon Kindle in the UK; the Kindle and the Kindle Keyboard. Both of these have what’s called an e-ink display, that replicates the look of printed text and can easily be read in direct sunlight, unlike normal computer screens that are hard to look at in bright light. Although they’re really easy to read, they don’t have colour screens. All Kindle devices also synchronize with the Amazon online store, so that if you buy an e-book it is automatically available on any Kindle device you own. You can also save bookmarks so that if you put it down, you can pick up in the same place on another device as well as saving clipping and notes. Amazon also supplies a free App for iPhone, iPad and Android.


here’re also three versions of the Kobo Reader available, which are very different; The Kobo Vox, the Kobo Vox Wireless and Kobo Vox Touch. They also use e-ink displays, with the exception of the Kobo Vox. The Kobo Vox is much more of a usual tablet, with a normal screen, and it runs Android, so you have access to the Android Market for apps. Kobo Vox devices have better integration with Facebook and Twitter, so that you can share what you’re reading with your friends. Kobo also supply apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.


Cost: £89 Size: 166 mm x 114 mm x 8.7 mm Weight: 170 grams Stores: Up to about 1,400 books, 2GB Battery life: Up to a month, depending on usage Connectivity: Wi-fi only

Kindle Keyboard

Cost: £150 Size: 190 mm x 123 mm x 8.5 mm Weight: 247 grams Stores: Up to about 3,500 books, 4GB Battery life: Up to 2 months, depending on usage Connectivity: Wi-fi and 3G

Kobo Vox

Cost: £170 Size: 192.4 mm x 128.4 mm x 13.4mm Weight: 402 grams Storage: 8GB Battery life: Up to 7 hours, with Wifi turned off Connectivity: Wifi only

Kobo Vox Touch

Cost: £110 Size: 165mm x 114mm x 10 mm Weight: 185 grams Stores: 2GB, expandable Battery life: Up to 1 month, depending on usage Connectivity: Wi-fi only

Slowly Getting Fast: The 4G Future


nternet on your phones and tablets is becoming more and more important for most people in the UK, and it’s starting to slow everything down. As more people stream video on their mobile devices, or surf the web on the go, it puts more strain on the network and slows it down for everyone. So, how can we fix this? At the moment the fastest mobile internet connection we can get in the UK is 3G, and that’s starting to look a bit aged now; so it’s time for the next generation, 4G. 4G wireless internet would give us connection speeds that are the same as, or even faster than, our internet connections at home, and would free up a huge amount of bandwidth so that more people could enjoy faster mobile internet. Although this may sound like a magic fix that could mean everyone gets to stream films on the go cheaply, that won’t be the case any time soon. There’re a few barriers getting in the way of wireless freedom:


When telephone companies first started getting ready for 3G internet, they had to bid for the licences for it from the government; this cost them a lot more than anyone predicted, with phone companies finally paying a total of £22.5 billion for them. That’s put phone companies on edge; they don’t want to have to pay that much again so they won’t have to charge their customers as much.

TV turn off

It has always been planned that 4G networks would run on the same frequency as terrestrial TV signals, but it has taken longer than originally planned to change everyone over to digital. This has delayed when a 4G network can be put in place by 2 years. You can blame your friends in London, as the last terrestrial TV signal will be turned off there.

Changing the rules

Because it cost so much to buy the licences last time, the phone companies have lobbied to change the auctioning rules so that it’s fairer for them. This has delayed the auction until the end of next year. It’s looking that the first 4G networks will be able to start getting underway no sooner than 2013, so don’t hold your breath. This is behind a lot of other countries, such as the US, Japan and a few other European countries where they’re already rolling out high speed 4G networks to customers. Although there have been delays, companies have already started testing the technology, with BT and Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile) testing networks in Cornwall and O2 testing in more populated areas in London. Hopefully, this means that once the other barriers are out of the way, we will all be able to get on the bandwagon for faster wireless internet. Until then, plans to cover the entire UK with a solid 3G signal are slowly rolling out. We’re slowly getting faster.

Will Osborn

Kobo Vox Wireless

Cost: £90 Size: 184mm x 120mm x 10 mm Weight: 221 grams Stores: 1GB, expandable Battery life: Up to 10 days, depending on usage Connectivity: Wi-fi and Bluetooth

Will Osborn

Robot War(den)s


esearchers working for the Asian Forum of Corrections in South Korea have developed robots that will do the work of prison guards. The robots, which are five foot high, are due to be trialled in a Pohang jail next March. The development of the four-wheeled ‘bots’ so far means they would only take some of the workload off of the existing prison guards but there’s potential for more in the future. The three machines that have been developed ready for next year’s trial will monitor any inmate with abnormal behaviour that could lead to things such as violence or suicide. They are apparently equipped with different kinds of sensors and cameras to help them find abnormalities and then alert the guards. “As we’re almost done with creating its key operating system, we are now working on refining its details to make it look more friendly to inmates” said Professor Lee BaikChu, from Kyonggi University, who led the research project. The project and trial has been funded by the South Korean government, and the latter alone is said to be costing them 1 billion won (which is equivalent to £554,00). The funding comes as South Korea begin to make a real push to be world leaders in the robotics industry.

LJ Taylor

Seren - 221 - 2011/12 - December Issue  

This is the December 2011/12 issue of Seren, Bangor Univeristy's English Language Newspaper. Produced by students for students.