Feb 17, 2011

Motorola lifts our spirits with new Atrix 4G video

Been feeling down this cold and dreary January? Well, let Motorola "introduce" you to its new smartphone! The CES conqueror we already know as the Atrix 4G has received its first promo video from the mothership, highlighting its laptop and HD multimedia docks (giving us a decent peek at the docked UI for both), dual-core processor and related gaming credentials, and, of course, that gorgeous qHD screen resolution on the handset itself. It's all set to a very uplifting soundtrack, connoting all the beautiful opportunity and potential that our collective smartphone future holds.

Motorola's Atrix 4G HD Multimedia Dock spotted online next to a $60 price tag

We can't say we make a habit of checking out Fommy.com or Mobile City Online's digital shelves when searching for our mobile gear, but these obscure retailers look to be the first to come out with pricing for the Atrix 4G's HD Multimedia Dock. Fommy lists it as a straight up $59.95 charge, whereas its direct competitor is already discounting the cradle down to $49.99. Both are offering pre-orders only at this point, with no known dates of arrival, but at least we've got a ballpark figure to play with.

LG Optimus 3D has dual-core 1GHz OMAP 4 CPU

LG's been mighty stingy with details about its 3D smartphone, but some very promising ones have just trickled out of Barcelona ahead of Mobile World Congress -- in keeping with the company's theme ofdoubling everything, the LG Optimus 3D will ship with a dual-core 1GHz TI OMAP 4 chip. Considering that we've seen that particular SOC drive three screens, we're guessing that a single 4.3-inch stereo display (yes, 4.3-inch is confirmed) will be old hat, and we've certainly seen the included PowerVR SGX540 graphics throw around some weight in many a Galaxy S. Raw specs aside, though, the Optimus 3D has a feature that we've been waiting on in Android for a while: LG says it will have "four times more video decoders than competing designs." Admittedly, that probably means it will still only recognize about eight video formats in total, but as long as we can play the vast majority of our anime music video library without re-encoding the lot, we'll promise to only grumble occasionally.

The iPhone nano to forgo local storage?

Well, MWC is in full swing, where folks like LG, Samsung, Sony, and Nokia are pouring their souls out in front of us in device form. So, naturally, the rumors are swirling about... the iPhone nano. In a followup to the Wall Street Journal's big story, Cult of Mac is claiming some additional inside info from a source with a "great track record." The main idea is that the iPhone nano would rely on the cloud to such an extent that the device wouldn't really have any local storage to speak of, outside of a streaming buffer. This would of course go hand in hand with a MobileMe / Lala-powered streaming music service, and result in significant component cost savings (flash memory is still pretty spendy). While this sounds like a beautiful dream, it doesn't make much sense in 2011. Streaming all your music and other media over a capped 3G connection doesn't sound very consumer-friendly, and there are still plenty of situations where having a nice offline stash of music is a lifesaver. But there's a bigger problem: where do you put your apps without local storage? Android's historic shortage of app storage really bit it in the ass, and we doubt Apple wants to go down that route. Sure, we can see a 4GB or so ultracheap device, with a heavy reliance on streaming media (many people get most of their music from Pandora these days, anyways), but a memory-free iPhone just doesn't sound feasible at this point in time.

Video - Microsoft Rally Ball demo shows Windows Phone 7, Kinect, Xbox Live living in perfect harmony

Though it's billed strictly as a technology demo -- not something we'll necessarily see in any imminent over-the-air update -- Microsoft showed off a pretty cool demo of how Windows Phone 7's Xbox Liveintegration could take advantage of Kinect down the road at Steve Ballmer's MWC keynote today. How, you ask? Using the Rally Ball game, a Windows Phone user was shown tossing balls to an on-screen character that's controlled by someone else on an Xbox using a Kinect. Simple, yes -- but perhaps as interesting as the Kinect aspect is the viability of real-time cross-platform gaming that Microsoft seems to be throwing its support behind. Seems like a good way to torture your friends into working out from thousands of miles away, doesn't it? Hit read more for the video.

Qualcomm unveils next-gen Snapdragon family, including quad-core 2.5GHz CPU

Not one to let the name Snapdragon down, Qualcomm's gone and announced a much faster generation of the processor family, with speeds up to 2.5GHz per core. The multi-core (one, two, and four) 28nm chipsets, codenamed Krait, will feature WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and FM, support NFC and stereoscopic 3D video / photo (capture and playback), and also boast multi-mode LTE modem integration. Qualcomm claims a performance increase of 150 percent and a power consumption drop of 65 percent over current ARM-based CPU cores. Included is a new Adreno 320 GPU with support of up to four 3D cores. Samples for the dual-core MSM8960 will be avialable in second quarter this year, while single-core MSM8930 and quad-core APQ8063 (for "computing and entertainment devices" -- i.e. tablets) versions are coming early 2012. The power-crazed products housing these chipsets? You'll have to wait even longer to see those.

Video - ViewSonic V350 Android Smartphone

Legend has it that the ViewSonic V350 is one of the few dual-SIM Android 2.2 phones on the market. We got a chance to play with a pre-release unit today, and it works as advertised, serving simultaneous quadband GSM plus dualband UMTS (900 / 2100MHz HSPA) on the first SIM, and quadband GSM on the second. The 3.5-inch touchscreen was a little less responsive than we expected, probably on account of the prototype hardware. Otherwise, the device serves a decent mid-range Froyo experience in a friendly package. Sadly, Viewsonic was mum on pricing and availability. Hit read more for the video.

Planon Slimscan, world's slimmest scanner, hands-on (video)

Been needing a credit card scanner to execute your superspy data collection with? Say hello to your new best buddy, the Planon Slimscan. This teeny tiny unit is equipped with a 600dpi optical scanner, though it shrinks images down to a 300dpi resolution to get a reasonable number of them to fit within the 64MBof onboard memory. Intended primarily as a collector of business card and receipt data, the Slimscan will come with Abbyy and PaperPort software along with the ability to export your stuff out to an Excel spreadsheet. Pricing is set at $120 and shipping is expected to commence any time now. Hit read more for the video!

Video - Fulton Innovation blows our minds with eCoupled wireless Tesla, Wireless Car Charging Boxes embedded in the floor!

Fulton Innovation blows our minds with eCoupled wireless Tesla, inductive cereal boxes (video)
Wondering what your future kitchen looks like? Take a gander at what Fulton Innovation is showing at CES this year. They're also giving a peek at the future of retail shopping, and even parking lots. It's all the magic of inductive charging, and now that the Qi standard has been finalized it seems like things are coming together. Really together, in everything from cereal boxes with blinkenlights to Tesla Roadstersthat charge almost as quickly as with a wire but, quite obviously, without the wire. Would you like to know more? Click on through.

Skype announces plans to acquire Qik

Well, we can't say we saw this one coming, but Skype has just dropped a bombshell right in the middle of CES -- it's announced plans to acquire rival video calling company Qik. No terms of the deal have been disclosed, but Skype says that the transaction is expected to close this month. According to Skype, the two companies will "focus on providing a richer, more integrated experience that will allow people globally to share experiences in real-time video across different platforms," and it notes that Qik's "deep engineering capabilities and strong mobile relationships will be an impressive complementary fit with Skype." Head on past the break for the official press release.

HP revamping webOS App Catalog for tablet use, adding carrier billing and magazine-like view

If HP wants webOS to be a competitive mobile ecosystem, the platform's app store has an awful lot ofcatching up to do -- but in terms of raw features, it sounds like the company plans to get with the program soon. PreCentral attended a developer presentation at MWC 2011 where HP showed off a brand new version of the App Catalog specifically designed for the tablet-friendly webOS 3.0, and found it will come with a handful of features that should make it eminently more useful. As you can see in the image above, there are presently four tabs, but two of them are worth calling out: the "Browser" is said to be a magazine-like interface for browsing through apps, while the "Saved" tab lets you bookmark apps you're interested in to consider for purchase or download later on. Perhaps more importantly, the process of actually paying for programs should be streamlined quite soon: HP told attendees that carrier billing and promo codes would find their way into the webOS App Catalog by summer at the very latest, in time for a webOS 3.0 launch, which suggests that it could possibly hit smartphones even a mite sooner.

Twitter CEO shoots down talk of a Twitter-branded smartphone before it starts

Think Twitter's going to follow Facebook and lend its brand to a smartphone? Think again. Twitter CEO Dick Costello said during his Mobile World Congress keynote yesterday that while he does see a need to better integrate Twitter into existing platforms for phones, he sees no need for a Twitter-branded smartphone. Costello cited the ability to take a picture on an Android phone and automatically tweet it as an example of that integration he'd like to see, and further added that he would like to see "more single sign-on experiences," and "more apps that can tweet without having to go to another app." Interestingly, Costello also revealed that 40 percent of all tweets come from mobile devices, and that fully half of all active Twitter users are active on more than one platform.

Google Voice number porting officially launched

As we informed you earlier, Google's finally officially turned on Google Voice number porting for all existing users. $20 is all it takes to swap your main line over to the service, although you'll have to cancel your existing service contracts to make it all happen. The service is currently only for existing GV users, so you can't open a new account and port straight away, but Google says new accounts will get the option in the "next few weeks." So -- anyone out there going to take the plunge?

Video: Awkward Multi-touch Gestures Coming To iPhone?

With multi-touch gestures for multitasking making their way to the iPad in iOS update 4.3 what is definitely more surpising is that they also seem to be making their way to the iPhone.
We say surprising because some of the gestures just don't seem to fit with the iPhone, quite literally in some cases. For example, a four finger swipe on the iPad is a pretty straightforward gesture and you have plenty of screen real estate to do it in. Move that gesture to the iPhone though and you are operating with far less screen space so the gesture becomes, well awkward really.

Hit read more for details.

HTC Files For Trademark For 'Sensation', New Tablet UI?

A trademark filing in Europe has tongues wagging that HTC is planning a new UI skin for its upcoming Android tablet(s).
The filing is for the trademark 'Sensation', which, being similar to 'Sense', HTC's current Android UI for smartphones has some thinking that we are looking at the genesis of a new tablet UI. It would certainly make sense for them to implement a new UI for tablets given the different screen sizes and features that a tablet will bring over a smartphone. Hit read more for details.

Google AdMob Results Released

Google have been releasing some data on mobile advertising, with some surprising results.
The data comes from AdMob, a Google acquisition from last year, and which Google revealed serves 2 billion ad requests per day. Now where this gets interesting is where these ad requests are coming from. Take Western Europe, for example; despite being one of the most advanced and developed smartphone markets on Earth it is responsible for just 15% of these ad requests. North America, another developed market, however, is requesting some 43% of those ads. Asia isn't too far behind with 33% of requests.
Hit read more for details.

Google Puts A Little Sunshine Into Weather Results

Google have been tinkering with their mobile search results again (for Android & iPhone) so that when you search for 'weather' you get something new.
That something new is a rather fetching looking interactive forecast that is automatically centred on your current location. You can of course change the location to somewhere else. The forecast covers the next 12 hours and it's broken down hour by hour. There's also a longer range forecast covering up to four days ahead.
The Google Blog explained the change "We'd been wanting to build a fun, useful, app-like way to display weather information on our weather search results page in the mobile browser ... So we pulled together a user experience designer and team of engineers and built a new weather search results snippet that lets you actually play with the results".


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