Tech News

Monday, March 12, 2012

Update - 68



Posted: 26 Feb 2012 11:04 AM PST
A press release doesn’t really do justice to a device like the Samsung Galaxy Beam – you’ve got to see it with your won eyes to do it justice. And while we can’t personally fly you to Barcelona for the debut of Samsung’s Android smartphone-pico projector mash up, we can do the next best thing and give you some live impressions of the device. Samsung was nice enough to show off the Galaxy Beam – under some pretty ideal conditions, of course – and we were on-hand to check it out.

First of all, the Galaxy Beam doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to its integrated projector – the little phone’s add-on is surprisingly bright and feature-packed. 15 lumens isn’t anywhere near what you’d get with a dedicated machine, of course, but it’s more than impressive from a device that’s not much bigger than a standard smartphone. Point the Beam towards a flat surface – preferably one that’s dark and neutrally colored – and you get a display that’s big at up to 50 inches, but not overly sharp at 640×480 pixels. A manual adjustment ring helps to quickly focus the image.

Samsung claims that the lamp on the inside will last a full 20,000 hours, i.e., much longer than the two-year life of your contract. But as cool a feature as the projector is, you’ll have to settle for a decidedly mid-range phone elsewhere. 4.0-inch LCD screen, Gingerbread, 1Ghz dual-core processor and a yellow-on-black color scheme – all are decidedly under the high standards of most Android enthusiasts. On the plus side, the rubberized backing should keep the projector safe ,and the 2000mAh battery should keep it running for few hours at least.

Though there’s no mention of a time or date, Samsung assures us it’ll be ready with a bevvy of accessories for the Galaxy Beam, most notably a portable stand. They also told us that an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich is already in the works. Remember to check our Mobile World Congress portal for the skinny on all the new hardware.
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Posted: 26 Feb 2012 10:50 AM PST
While Sony might not have the massive 7-phone lineup that LG brought to Mobile World Congress, it isn’t content with just one, so it brought the Xperia P to keep the little Xperia U company. Previously known as the “Nypon”, the Xperia P fits nicely in between the high-end S and the new U to fill out the first trio of devices announced since Sony’s absorption of Sony Ericsson.  Sony just announced the phone during its Mobile World Congress press conference, so details are a little light, but it looks like it’s running a screen somewhere in the 3.7-4.0 inch range.

And what a screen: Sony claims that its new “White Magic” display offers twice the brightness of a traditional panel while preserving visibility in direct sunlight. Other charms include NFC with a set of Sony-branded fobs, HDMI-out via a media dock, ans three colors of brushed-aluminum backing. It preserves the see-through navigation style found on its big brother the S, and it looks like the phone is running Sony’s customized Ice Cream Sandwich interface. Huzzah!
Unlike the March-bound Xperia S and Xperia U, the Xperia P isn’t expected to hit the market until the second quarter at the very least. Pricing hasn’t been mentioned, but ut should fall naturally in between the other two. We’ll have a hands-on look at the Xperia P later in the show, so keep checking the Android Community MWC 2012 portal for the latest.
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[via SlashGear]

Posted: 26 Feb 2012 10:31 AM PST
Digging the style in Sony’s Xperia S superphone, but need something that doesn’t poke out of your breast pocket? Then the Xperia U might be right up your alley. Sony officially announced the diminutive 3.5-inch phone today at Mobile World Congress. The smaller phone keeps the squared-off style and see-through navigation/alert area of the Xperia S, but seems to be saddled with the now-outdated Sony Ericsson branding, even though Sony announced that the two companies have now been officially integrated. Sony says that the final branding will be Sony-only.

Sony was quick to point out that the “Chin” section (that bit of plastic below the transparent buttons) can be removed and replaced to your liking, not dissimilar from the older Nokia interchangeable faceplates. You can even get hot pink, if the spirit moves you. Sony’s proprietary Bravia graphics engine will boost video playback, and that’ll be a welcome feature, since the 5-megapixel rear camera takes 720p video. That transparent bar changes colors to fit the mood in certain applications, like the photo gallery. The processor is an impressive 1Ghz dual-core.


The first provider to offer the Xperia U will be UK’s Three, which intends to make it available “soon”. There’s no word on pricing, but you can expect it to be well below the sticker price for Sony’s top-of-the-line S model. Stay tuned to the MWC 2012 portal – we’ll have hands-on look at this little guy shortly.

Posted: 26 Feb 2012 10:20 AM PST
It’s not all specifications and benchmarks – sometimes you’ve got to throw a little style into the mix. Such is the case with LG’s L-series, the Optimus L3, L5 and L7. These phones take their stylistic cues from the collaboration between LG and Prada, and it shows – their deem, glossy black and angular corners scream “fashion phone” more than any other current Android competitor. But can they hold their own as, well, phones? Read our hands-on form Barcelona to find out.

All three phones feature roughly equal shapes: a hard rectangle with a slightly beveled back ,and a center home button flanked by capacitive buttons, Samsung-style. Starting on the low end, the L3 is the baby of the family, with its 3.2-inch screen running LG’s current Gingerbread build (and given their attitude towards low-end phones so far, it’s likely to stay that way). The L3′s phone is recessed behind its glass casing, giving a presentation that’s not quite as impressive as its bigger brothers.

Stepping up to the L5, you get a 4-inch screen and Ice Cream Sandwich running at launch, though it’s still got a lighter LG custom interface. Sharp edges are still present, but thanks to a larger body the phone is easier to keep a hold of. The processor runs at a pokey 800mhz on its single core,  abd you can certainly tell from the response in the interface. The back has a slightly rubberized texture from the soft plastic, and we saw it in both black and white flavors.

The L7 is the big daddy of the three, with a 4.3-inch screen to make it match the median of Android phones sold today. It gets a full 1GHz processor, though it’s still single core, and Ice Cream Sandwich when it launches sometime in Q2. The battery is at the low end of 4.3-inch devices at 1500mAh. The back has a unique texute that accents an 8.7mm thin body – not the slimmest we’ve ever seen, but attractively proportioned to be sure.
All three phones should be hitting Korea sometime this summer, with international releases to follow. Americans can expect to see revised versions on local carriers, as it’s unlikely that any single provider will pick up the entire line. For more breaking news, keep that MWC 2012 portal tab open.
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Posted: 26 Feb 2012 10:01 AM PST
Let the battle of the phablets begin. LG was the first out of the gate with a competitor to Samsung’s oversized Galaxy Note, revealing the Optimus Vu in its own press presentation long before this week’s Mobile World Congress. But they’ve brought it along to demonstrate next to the other high-end offerings, and who are we to protest? The phone’s unique 5.0-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio screen is certainly large, but it remains to be seen whether it is indeed in charge. Judge for yourself from our hands-on below.

LG seemed at least as excited about the Vu’s LTE capability as its large screen, reminding us that it will be LTE-enabled wherever it’s sold. Other hardware considerations include a 1.5Ghz dual-core Qualcomm processor, 1GB of RAM and Gingerbread – with Ice Cream Sandwich promised no more than three months after launch. The back of the device is textured like worn leather, and Android’s standard 4-button layout sits on the bottom of the front face. The sides are surprisingly sharp at the corners, more like the Prada series of phones than LG’s main line.

But you don’t care about all that: how ’bout  that screen? Even though the Optimus Vu’s LCD panel is slightly smaller than the Galaxy Note’s at 5.0 inches, it’s considerably wider thanks to the more square aspect ratio. Typing on the Note is a bit of a chore, but on the Vu it’s downright frustrating: be prepared to devote both hands to this device whenever you pull it out of your pocket. The screen itself is as bright and clear as we’ve ever seen from a mobile LCD, and complimented nicely by LG’s bright UI. The resolution matches early tablets like the iPad and HP TouchPad at 1024×768 – in a screen a quarter of the size.

All in all the Optimus Vu is an interesting addition to this growing form factor, though it’ll take some extended use to decide which “phone” is prefferable. We’ll have a little while to think it over, since the Vu isn’t expected to hit the market in early March in LG’s home turf of South Korea and somewhat later elsewhere. For breaking coverage of all the new devices at Mobile World Congress, keep an eye on the MWC 2012 portal page.
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Posted: 26 Feb 2012 09:34 AM PST
It’s been about a year since we saw any major new hardware sporting the glasses-free lenticular 3D display technology, but LG seems to have  been pleased enough with the Optimus 3D to give it another go. The Optimus 3D Max (AKA the Optimus 3D Cube in some markets) keeps the originals’ 3D screen and dual cameras, while adding a larger 4.3-inch panel ,1.2Ghz dual-core Snapdragon processor and upgrading the cameras to 5 megapixels. Here’s out hands-on look from LG’s Mobile World Congress event.

Naturally with a bigger body and screen, the 3D Max gives a different feel from its predecessor, but thanks to some good engineering on LG’s part, it actually feels lighter and thinner. A lot of the bulk of the original is gone, cramming the 3D capability into something more like a standard high-end Android phone. That said, if you’ve seen the Optimus 3D (or the Evo 3D, HTC’s take on the technology) you know what to expect: the effect goes “in” to the phone’s screen, making it look kind of like a diorama behind glass. It’s an interesting effect, to be sure, but it’s not for everyone. The brighter display (LG calls it “NOVA”) helps isolate some of the dim and ghosting problems seen before.

On the back you get the eye-popping stereo cameras, though unfortunately we couldn’t do a proper run-down of this feature on the crowded show floor. The flat back curves out on the bottom, Galaxy S-style, though not uncomfortably so. Buyers will have to settle for Gingerbread, unlike some of the more high-end LG offerings like the Optimus 4X HD, but thankfully LG has included all four standard Android buttons instead of their usual three. LG’s proprietary UI is along for the ride with some 3D enhancements.

All in all it’s a worthy update to the original Optimus 3D, and those who have fallen in love with lenticular 3D (and we know you’re out there) will appreciate the Optimus 3D Max – especially since it’s currently the leader in a pack of one. There’s no word on when or where this phone will be available, but late summer seems like a possibility. Keep your browser’s non-existent dials tuned to Android Community’s Mobile World Congress portal for more breaking coverage.
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Posted: 26 Feb 2012 09:15 AM PST
After much speculation, LG has finally unveiled its new lineup at Mobile World Congress, and the Optimus 4X HD is right at the front. The new flagship is set to replace the Optimus LTE at the highest end of LG’s smartphone offerings, and naturally we took the trek to Barcelona to check it out. The 4.7-inch, quad-core, ICS, 720p monster of a phone has got a lot to love, and significantly boosts LG’s place in the high-end race. Check out some hands-on photos and impressions below.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Optimus 4X HD is that LG has done away with its former user interface (affectionately known around here as “I Can’t Believe It’s Not TouchWiz”) for a lighter and more subtle version. It’s still a pretty radical departure from Android proper, and you’ve got to check the Settings menu to make sure that it is indeed Android 4.0, but thanks to the hardware and software combo it’s surprisingly fast. A more readable and lighter theme helps navigate as well.

From the hardware perspective, the outside is a little dull – there’s certainly no high-fashion accents like on the lower-end L-series revealed at the same time. The massive 4.7-inch IPS LCD is at least as bright as we’ve seen with other LG high-end phones like the Spectrum, and considerably sharper than Samsung’s 720p panels (though not quite as vivid). Below the screen you’ll find ICS’s navigation buttons transposed onto capacitive touch panels – no Search or Menu button in sight.

At 8.9mm thin, LG is matching a lot of the phones we’re seeing today (like Huawei’s Ascend D Quad) without going for broke in the ultra-thin department. That should allow for some decent battery life, even with the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM. The 4X HD is the only one of LG’s new lineup to feature Nvidia silicon – the others are all using Qualcomm. We should have some hands-on video for you soon, so check back later – or just keep refreshing the MWC 2012 portal for this and other LG smartphones.
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Posted: 26 Feb 2012 08:21 AM PST
After months of teasing, Huawei’s finally pulled the wraps off of its new high-end flagship, the Ascend D Quad. The company intends to play with the big boys by cramming a quad-core processor and a 4.5-inch 720p screen into a svelte 8.9mm Android smartphone – with Ice Cream Sandwich on the side. But what’s most interesting isn’t necessarily the phone itself: inside you’ll find Huawei’s own Arm-based quad-core processor, the K3V2. According to Huawei, this new design is both faster and more efficient than Nvidia’s Tegra 3, which we were expecting to see – we’ll wait until some real-world benchmarks to draw our own conclusions.

Like Motorola’s flagship RAZR, the D Quad is getting a long-lasting brother in the Ascend D Quad XL. As the name implies, it features a larger battery, bumping the stock 1800mAh up to 2500mAh, matching larger phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note but still nowhere near the RAZR MAXX’s 3300mAh. The larger phone will have otherwise identical specifications, aside from a 10.1mm-thick chassis. Huawei claims that the combination of a larger battery and their own proprietary power management software will give the Ascend D Quad XL 2-3 days of active use.
Elsewhere on the phone you get an 8MP rear and 1.3MP front-facing camera, Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound and a currently undefined combination of on-board and SD storage. Looking at the photos it’s clear that Huawei is keeping its hands-off approach to Android with a mostly stock version of ICS, though physical navigation buttons remain, like the leaked HTC phones we expect to see later today. The Ascend D Quad and D Quad XL will go on sale in North and South America, Europe, China, Asia-Pacific, Australia and the Middle East in the second quarter of 2012. Keep an eye on our MWC 2012 portal for some hands-on coverage later in the conference.
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Posted: 26 Feb 2012 07:06 AM PST
We’d heard rumblings of larger form factors in Samsung’s brand new Galaxy Note family before, but this would seem to seal the deal. A Swedish blogger caught a glimpse of some covered ads prior to Samsung’s Mobile World Congress event showing nothing less than the Galaxy Note 10.1, a combination of the ten-inch tablet form factor and Samsung’s new pen input hardware and software. There’s little to go on at this point beyond the name and a brief, tempting glance at the corner of the device, but there’s plenty that can be inferred.

First of all, you can see some pen action on the screen in the second photograph – clearly Samsung’s Note apps are making the jump to the tablet, and presumably the open SDK will make the jump as well. Given the larger body the S-pen will probably be closer to an actual pen in dimension, since even the slinkiest tablet has at least some space left over inside. Oh, and given that Samsung is already showing off both 7 and 10.1-inch versions of the Galaxy Tab 2, the Galaxy Note 10.1 will almost certainly run Ice Cream Sandwich at launch – whenever that is.

Samsung’s got a pre-show event later today where they’ll probably be showing off their latest and greatest – with one notable exception. The Galaxy Note 10.1 should make an appearance,along with the already-announced Galaxy Beam and Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1). We’re still holding out hope for an 11.6-inch monster with some fantastic processor and resolution specs, but that too may have to wait. In the meantime, keep our Mobile World Congress portal close at hand for all the latest announcements and hands-on looks at new hardware.
[via SlashGear]

Posted: 26 Feb 2012 06:46 AM PST
Well folks, we made the long flight across seas and have finally landed here in Barcelona, Spain. I thought it was supposed to be sort of winter but with the sun shining bright and a nice 65ยบ breeze things are looking good already. With good weather we expect a good show and have plenty of details and hands-on coming up shortly.


Just like last year if you look really close at the middle of the picture above you’ll spot it… Android Community! Yup, that’s how we roll. We are expecting a pretty terrific show this year and have some awesome news coming up shortly from Samsung, LG, and HTC just to name a few. We already have seen plenty of leaks of the latter two but have a feeling they might pull out some stops and surprise us.
We also saw a few reports of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 being around here somewhere so stay tuned. You won’t want to miss all the action as we bring it to you live. We’ve hit the ground running here at the Fira — the cities main exhibition area and will be busy all night and day. Check out our Mobile World Congress 2012 portal for all the news.
Get in the mood and get some Spanish food cooking. Maybe some Escalivada, or Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy mayo sauce) and have a great week!

Posted: 25 Feb 2012 09:01 PM PST
We’ve heard a lot about integrating docked desktop modes into Android this past week, but here’s a smartphone that packs its own external display. The Galaxy Beam isn’t Samsung’s first pico projector-phone combination, but it’s the first running Android, so it’s on our radar. The Gingerbread phone packs a 15-lumen lamp capable of displaying up to a 50-inch image into a body that’s not too much larger than a standard phone, though the other specifications aren’t anything to write home about. The Samsung Galaxy Beam was announced via press release prior to Mobile World Congress, which doesn’t officially begin until Monday.

Aside from the projector, the Beam packs a 4-inch, 800×480 LCD (not Super AMOLED) display, a 1Ghz dual-core processor and 8GB of internal memory, plus an open MicroSD card slot. Unfortunately connectivity is limited to HSPA. For cameras you get a 5MP rear and 1.3MP front-facing cam – not bad, considering how much extra hardware needs to be crammed in there. The yellow-accented body is 12.5mm thick, again, impressive considering the integrated hardware. A 2000mAh battery is slightly larger than normal, but who knows how long it’ll last in projector mode.
Gingerbread is the order of the day, with Samsung’s standard flanked home button configuration for navigation purposes.  There isn’t a whole lot of information on how the projector mode will work – Samsung isn’t even saying what resolution it has, beyond “high definition”. We’ll be sure to check out the Galaxy Beam at Samsung’s booth on the show floor later this week. For that and other news, keep a tab tuned to our Mobile World Congress portal.
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Posted: 25 Feb 2012 08:40 PM PST
Samsung’s first volley of Mobile World Congress press includes and update to their Galaxy Tab flagship, given the rather uninspired moniker Galaxy Tab 2. It’ll be one of the first Sammy tablets to run the Ice Cream Sandwich-TouchWiz combination in when it hits world markets in March, but beyond that, it isn’t much changed from the model we’ve come to know over the last eight months. From a design perspective, the front-facing speakers and branding mimic Germany’s Galaxy Tab 10.1N – no doubt to throw off the scent for Apple’s legal bulldogs.

Inside you get a 1Ghz dual-core processor of indeterminate make, 1GB of RAM and 16-32GB of storage space. The screen is the same 1280×800 LCD that the current model uses. The tablet’s skinny dimensions are kept intact, with a profile of just 9.7mm. It looks like Samsung has integrated come negative feedback from the original and included a MicroSD card slot, though it’s empty out of the box. Cameras are limited to 3MP on the back and VGA on the front. The company is pushing the HSPA+ model, but WiFi only and other variants will certainly be making their way onto shelves at some point.
This decidedly isn’t the 11.6-inch model we were expecting to see, nor is it the Galaxy Note 10.1 we’ve seen hints of. It looks like Samsung is refreshing its line of standard tablets (starting with the Galaxy Tab 2 7-inch we saw last week) so expect to see 8.9 and 7.7 varieties in a few weeks or months. This is the first of many unveils for Mobile World Congress, so make sure to check our MWC 2012 portal for more press and hands-on looks at new hardware.
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Posted: 25 Feb 2012 02:03 PM PST
So, Temple Run. Easily one of the most-anticipated Android games in the world right now. Android owners have been waiting patiently (though judging by the comments on our previous stories, not too patiently) for months. And according to the game’s official Facebook page, they’re going to have to wait a little longer. The deveoper posted that the game is taking longer than expected to complete, though it’s still coming along. The post says that it’ll give Facebook followers at least a week’s notice before the game is released – which means that if the notice came later today, Temple Run still wouldn’t be coming until March 3rd. At the absolute earliest.

For the uninitiated, Temple Run is an iOS game by developer Imangi Studios. In a nod to the original Indiana Jones, the player must control an adventurer fleeing from a temple, pursued by hoards of demonic monkeys. Various touch gestures allow you to manipulate your character, jumping, dodging, turning or ducking as necessary. It’s a bit like a 3D version of Bit Trip Runner. The developers announced back in November that the game was headed to Android, but as development draws to a close eager fans have been disappointed time and again with vague delays.
Imangi takes care to note that any game pretending to be Temple Run on the Android Market or elsewhere is a fake, until their full app is released. That’s not without precedent: like many popular iOS converts, copies and fakes have been appearing in the Market with depressing regularity.  The game is in the final Beta stages and should be wrapping up soon – but not before next Saturday. Keep it civil in the comments section, folks.

Posted: 25 Feb 2012 01:04 PM PST
The HTC One X, formerly the Edge/Endeavor, has been one of the most exposed “secret projects” in recent memory. With all the renders, specs, names, and photos leaked, we though there’s be nothing left to know by the time HTC unveils it tomorrow in Barcelona. Not so: FullGSM got their hands on what appears to be the full product sheep. Aside from what appear to be press shots, there’s nothing really new – except for a “dual shutter” camera, the purpose of which is to take full 8MP stills while recording video at the same time.

The rest of the specifications are what we’ve already seen: a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor running at 1.5Ghz, a 4.7-inch 720p screen (though the panel is listed as “Super LCD2″, not AMOLED as some previous leaks said) with a full gigabyte of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (26GB of which is user-accessible, with no MicroSD card slot) and a slim profile of just 9.29mm at its thickest point. The One X also comes with NFC capabilities and a super-sized 25GB of DropBox access.
Naturally it’s running Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC’s update Sense UI 4.0, though like the other leaked HTC phones we’ve seen, the One X uses the more conventional capacitive navigation button instead of Galaxy Nexus-style on screen controls. According to the photos, black and white versions will be available, but there’s’ no timeframe or price. This leak looks pretty definitive, but we’ll still have to wait for HTC’s event tomorrow to be sure – it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. For all the breaking stories, keep an eye on Android Community’s MWC 2012 portal. Only a few more hours to go…
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[via SlashGear]

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