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The TechDay Weekender - Mar 31st 2012

31 Mar 12

Controversy erupted this week with the revelation that Huawei Technologies, the company that has landed two major contracts to supply equipment for the builders of the Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) network in New Zealand, was turned away from a role in a similar project in Australia.

The reason was concerns about possible ties between the company and the government of its home country, China.

Huawei says this is a sign of people struggling to come to grips with ‘the new China’, pointing out that they’ve been selected by plenty of other countries including the UK, Singapore and Malaysia.

However, that didn’t stop the opposition from ripping into the National Party, ICT spokesperson Clare Curran accusing John Key of ‘looking the other way’ in allowing the contracts to go ahead.

National says appropriate checks have been done, but the publicity has damaged a lot of parties at a time when all involved in the UFB project need the public on their side to ensure a speedy uptake.

The Huawei case wasn’t the only tech controversy to come out of Australia this week either, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission taking Apple to task over its new iPad.

The dispute surrounds the marketing of the device as ‘4G’. It was one of the main selling points when the device was first unveiled, but Australian 4G runs on different frequencies to American 4G, and the new iPad will only run on the 4G of its homeland.  Of course, it still runs on 3G for places which don’t have 4G at all – like New Zealand.

Apple protested that there was plenty of press in Australia in the weeks before the product’s release explaining that the 4G wouldn’t work, but the company has still had to offer refunds to customers who felt they were misled in order to appease the authorities.

Back on this side of the Tasman, kiwis were given their first taste of paid movie streaming this week with the launch of Quickflix, an Australia-based service in the vein of Netflix and Hulu.

For $9.99 per month (to be bumped up to $16.99 once the introductory period expires), users can stream unlimited movies and TV shows direct to their computer, Sony Bravia TV, or PlayStation 3.

New releases will cost an additional $6.99, which is a little frustrating, but ISPs Orcon and Slingshot have both said they will zero-rate all data from the site, meaning users can watch as much content as they like safe in the knowledge it won’t affect their data caps.

While there’s only 650 movies on offer at this stage, the company is looking to add between 350 and 400 new films and 400 new hours of television per month, so you’re not likely to find there’s nothing on.

The fact there’s no legal way to source content online has long been a justification for internet users who download movies illegally, so it will be really interesting to see how Quickflix goes.

In a story that shows the pundits do sometimes get it wrong, Samsung announced this week it has sold 5 million units of its smartphone/tablet crossover, the Galaxy Note.

The device was criticised on release for being unwieldy and for having a stylus – seen as a throwback to the PDAs of the 90s – but Samsung ploughed on with an intensive marketing campaign, and it looks to be paying off.

Finally, in the wake of the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco we thought we’d put things in perspective and take a look back at some of the worst endings in gaming history. There were some true let-downs back in the day, and one in particular may surprise you.

Enjoy your weekend, it’s the last one before the Easter break!

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