My highlights of 2011

I thought, at the end of the year, it was worth picking out some of the things that I’ve found most interesting to write about here over the last twelve months. So here’s my top ten, in chronological order, with a few comments.

In January, I looked at the little things that make a PVR special. Once you’ve had these features, you start to rely on them – and it’s a shame many new models still don’t come up to the mark.

As in previous years, the publishing industry continues to confound people; the sales of eBook readers may be rising, but some of the big companies remain resolute in their analogue ways. In February, it was the turn of Harper-Collins to miss the point, with a suggestion that library copies of eBooks should wear out.

April was an important date for Freeview HD; it’s the date after which any new kit tested and launched on the market should support all the features needed for things such as iPlayer and the new IP TV services being launched on channel 110 and above. That’s when version 6.2.1 of the D-Book became mandatory.

Prompted by an impending holiday, in May I considered upgrading my camera – whether to go digital, and if so, how to do that, and take my existing lenses with me. My holiday was also the inspiration for another post in June, in which I looked at how to get cheap mobile data in Italy. If you’re travelling, I hope you’ll find it useful.

July saw lots of publicity given to an Ofcom map of broadband around the country. It might look pretty, but read my comments, and see if you agree that, for many purposes, it’s actually not very useful at all.

Back in 2010, I started the process of migrating all my phones from the old ISDN line that I had to a new VoIP system, running over my broadband connection, and powered by a software PBX running on a small Windows PC. In September, after I’d been using the new system for a year, I was able to answer the question – was it worth switching to VoIP?

Value for money was presumably on my mind that month, as I asked the same question of robot cleaners, too, after reviewing the latest Roomba model for RegHardware.

Another thing that’s been on my mind is changing my mobile phone, for one that is a bit better at web browsing than my current Nokia E72. But there are some things the old Nokia does very well – and very few more recent phones do. I think. The problem is that most phone reviews just don’t tell me what I need to know.

And finally, in November I was lucky enough to attend an open day at the BBC’s research labs in Salford. There’s a lot more going on there than just the Daleks!

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