Tech Insider: Reviews of the week's best technology
HTC One Mini 2
The HTC One Mini 2 may have a "lite" name, but it is amazing quality.
Very few "mini" versions of phones impress me. The "mini" in the name can mean "stripped of all impressive features and power".
However, HTC tends to do the "mini" well. Last year, we saw the HTC One Mini and it was solid. They continue to infiltrate the phone market at present. After the massively successful launch of the HTC M8 earlier this year, they're now back with another great device.
The phone comes loaded with Android KitKat and internally has a quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2GHz processor. It also has 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, with the option to add a Micro SD slot, up to 128GB.
The One Mini 2 has a 4.5-inch screen that sits in a beautiful metallic body and has a 5MP front-facing camera as well as an incredible 13MP rear-facing camera. This is impressive for such a small device.
HTC really wow when it comes to camera technology. There are a number of filters and built-in options for the camera, but many are quite gimmicky. Both cameras can shoot 1080p video too.
As with all new HTC phones, One Mini 2 comes loaded with BlinkFeed – the very handy news service. It also has "BoomSound" which is a pair of front facing speakers, similar to those on the M8.
Battery life on the small phone is impressive. While it runs a number of background programmes and has a demanding processor and camera – the battery does last an entire day, easily.
The bottom line with this phone is: it's good! It may have "mini" in its name, but it doesn't mean the killer features of its big sister have been stripped away.
If you don't want to part with all the cash the M8 costs on pay as you go, but still want the HTC look, feel and experience, this is the way to go.
Aura smart sleep system
Sleep smarter with an advanced monitoring system.
We all know our lives are smart and are set to get smarter. Walking around the house, it's easy to see where the technology could fit in. Sleep patterns, room temperature and lighting are all going to be managed and monitored from our phones and tablets in the not too distant future.
One product which caught my eye earlier this week comes from a company called Withings. The 'Aura Smart Sleep System' is a device which sits on the bedside locker and monitors factors in the bedroom including noise, room temperature and light level, before customising light and sound to ensure a better night's sleep.
This works, in principle, the same way some of the more advanced baby monitors do. A small sensor pad is placed beneath the mattress and monitors the user's breathing cycle, body movements and heart rate. This information is then displayed on a smart device, illustrating to the user the good and the bad traits of their sleeping cycle.
Do we need this kind of info? Would it help anyone get a better night's sleep?
Does it matter?!
App of the week
The RUN PEE app means you'll never have to ask your cinema buddy "What did i miss?" again...
Not so long ago a brilliant, but soon-to-be over-used phrase was coined; "there's an app for that". While there are thousands of applications to aid every issue we never knew we faced, here is one unlike any other.
'RunPee' is an application which tells the user the best time to use the toilet whilst at the cinema, to avoid missing any key scenes or parts of the movie plot.
The application costs 99 cent and is available on iOS, Android and Windows. The team behind the app mark three to five minute windows within the film, where the plot starts to drag, as ideal toilet times.
The app then gives the user a brief overview of what they missed while they were away. The app also gives the user a synopsis of the first three minutes of their chosen film, just in case they are running late. It has built in information from RottenTomatoes and IMDB.
The most useful or useless feature, has to be the vibrating timer that gives you a countdown before each upcoming toilet-break.
Web wonders of the week
A good deal better
Everyone loves a good deal. There is no better feeling than knowing you got good value for your money. This is why sites such as Groupon and Pigsback are so popular.
The downside of these sites, however, is the multiple emails fired into accounts daily. The constant bombardment of emails from deal providers can actually make the entire process extremely off-putting.
Enter MyDealPage.ie which pulls all the information from sites such as GrabOne.ie, Groupon.ie, DealRush.ie and LivingSocial.com and provides the information in one clean list.
It's easy to use and there's no subscription needed. Simply bookmark the page and check visit it every few days. Simple!
Mup up your ideas
For some, a project hasn't started until they plan out what they are hoping to achieve with the aid of a mind map. There is a very handy online method for creating these maps called "MindMup".
MindMup is a free service which allows the user to throw together simple mind maps without having to do anything bar open the webpage. Using it could not be easier.
Once on MindMup.com, users see an explainer map, describing how to use the service. There is no registration required to use the site.
First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent