Feb 18, 2011

Xperia Play commercial surfaces, makes back alley surgery fun again (video)

You know, it just wouldn't be an ad campaign for a Sony game system without a suitable "WTF?" moment. And why would Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play (a.k.a. PlayStation phone, a.k.a. the Worst Kept Secret in the Business) be any different? There isn't much to say about this ad, except that the fine folks at Droid NYTT got hold of a copy, and that we hope these back-alley thumb transplant goons know a thing or two about anesthetics. See for yourself after the break.

HTC to invest $40 million into OnLive to help with games on smartphones

Let's be fair, for a company that pulled in NT$14.59 billion (about $500 million in US currency) in net profit last fiscal quarter, $40 million isn't exactly a huge chunk of change. But the recipient of HTC's money this go around is mighty interesting: cloud gaming experts OnLive. Said company spokesperson Maggie Cheng via Wall Street Journal, this will "strengthen its gaming capabilities and help HTC tap into increasing demand for games on smartphones" -- yep, smartphones. HTC also announced it has acquired London-based Saffron Digital for about $48.6 million, although it said the buyout shouldn't affect deals with its current content partners including Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG, and Samsung. We don't think the OnLive investment will stop the cloud gaming company from pushing its way onto as many platforms as (in)humanly possible, but we'd be lying if we said we didn't expect HTC's versions to be even grander in scale and performance.

Motorola Gleam flip phone proclaims Moto isn't done with dumbphones just yet

We were just settling into our expectation that the terms "Motorola" and "Android" are always going to appear in the same sentence, but check it out: the new Gleam flip phone for Europe bucks the trend in a big way. Looking more like a South Korean or Japanese domestic market handset than anything else, the Gleam features an external dot matrix LED display that can flash a variety of messages and pictograms, while the inside sports a 2.4-inch QVGA display, a dual-band GSM radio (don't even think of importing this thing to the States), Bluetooth 2.1, a 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB charger, microSD slot with support up to 16GB, and a 2 megapixel cam. High end? Not exactly, but we bet the price will be right when it launches in the first half of the year in your choice of gray, red, or "thistle." Follow the break for the press release.

Samsung releases 8 and 12 megapixel CMOS smartphone sensors, shoots 1080p on the go

Samsung releases 8 and 12 megapixel CMOS smartphone sensors, shoot 1080p on the go
What the world needs now is more pixels up in your phone, and Samsung has a selection of new offerings that offer just that for stills and vids. It's released details on two new sensors, one, the S5K3H2, clocking in at eight megapixels and the other, the S5K3L1, at 12. Both will record 1080p video, with the 12 megapixel offering doing it at up to 60 fps -- the lesser model makes do with a mere 30. Both can capture full-res stills at 30fps and, naturally, both are really tiny for fitting into things like smartphones.

Android 2.3.3 announced with more developer-friendly access to NFC

The Android versions keep on rolling today with the introduction of a new build in the 2.3 Gingerbread line -- 2.3.3 this time -- that improves developer access to the platforms newfound NFC capabilities as first seen on the Nexus S. What's new, exactly? Well, there's a new NFC read / write API that Google alleges will let you access pretty much any NFC tag on the market today, better control over what happens when a tag comes within range of the device, and "limited support" for peer-to-peer NFC communication -- something Stanford cobbled together for the Nexus S not long ago. The new build is available now to developers using the Android SDK; no devices have received an update yet, but we'd imagine the Nexus S is queued up to get it before too long.

HTC to debut Android phone with dedicated Facebook button that doubles as Winklevii irritant

Do you know how much time is lost having to jump out of an application to click on the Facebook icon (or widget) on your home screen? That 0.4 seconds, when done hundreds of times each and every day (assuming you ever leave the Facebook screen in the first place) can really add up -- precious time you could spend updating your status and liking your girlfriend's brother's Business Cat wall post. INQ figured it out, and HTC may have found a way to restore those precious seconds, as well. According toThe Financial Times, the company plans to introduce an Android device with a dedicated Facebook button (note: not a "Facebook phone"). We wouldn't expect anything crazy out of the clicker, however, as the dream crushers known currently as "people familiar with the device" say its purpose is to take you to the Facebook front page -- if you want something more. 

Video - Pelican Imaging's prototype array camera could make your pictures better, phones thinner

Pelican's prototype array camera could make your pictures better, phones thinner (video)
If you want to look for life on another planet you don't build one radio telescope that's miles wide, you build a bunch of smaller ones and create an array out of them. As it turns out that basic idea works for capturing visible wavelengths as well. It's called a plenoptic camera, using an array of very small lenses that, when combined, can create an image as good as a larger one. Pelican Imaging is largely interested in the slim factor this kind of system could offer, potentially allowing for thinner phones, but this could also open the door to some interesting effects. Check out the video after the break for an example of the dynamic aperture control this sort of setup can allow, where you can change the focal plane of an imageafter it was taken. Given the small size of the array here you probably couldn't do anything too crazy, like take a picture through a tree, but the days of poorly focused cameraphone shots might finally be at an end -- whenever this actually comes to market. 

Camera Mic app turns your iPhone mic into a shutter release

Camera Mic app turns your iPhone microphone into a shutter release
That pretty much says it all, folks. It's an app for your iPhone that lets you run your finger across the mic on your handset or headset and use it to trigger the camera. Simple? Yes. Genius? Maybe, so long as you aren't the sort who mindlessly strokes your headphone cable while on the subway or bus. Yours now for a buck.

Mili Power MiFlip re-ups your smartphone battery without the extra baggage

As if we weren't excited enough about MiLi's HDMI iPhone dock, the battery powerhouse has announced yet another multifunctional device for re-juicing your smartphone. The MiFlip foldable smartphone charger -- compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and BlackBerry -- functions as a charger, battery backup, and viewing stand, and it's small enough to keep your mobile phone, well, mobile. This skinny battery booster provides eight hours of talk, 15 hours of video, or 80 hours of music, and uses a mini-USB connector to sync with iTunes. MiFlip will be available for $49.99 on MiLi's website.

Video - Razer Switchblade preview - An amazing laptop concept!

While officially deemed a concept, we came away with a serious impression that Razer's not investing loads of time and money on this just for kicks. In other words, we'd cautiously expect to see this thing on sale at some point next year -- but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. We spent a good half-hour toying with this Windows 7-based mini netbook, and we came away seriously impressed by what's happening here. Head on past the break for more of our impressions. 

webOS on PCs will be an 'integrated experience'

HP closed its recent "Think Beyond" event with a remarkable announcement that webOS would becoming to PCs. How, exactly, the company planned on doing that has been a mystery. The Seattle Timesjust interviewed HP's CTO, Phil McKinney, who helped put to rest some premature speculation that HP would be dumping Microsoft Windows in favor of webOS while adding some clarity (though not much) to its webOS on everything strategy. According to Phil, people still want an OS appropriate to PCs, tablets, and smartphones with webOS pulling it all together by "taking the existing operating systems and bringing WebOS onto those platforms and making it universal across all of our footprint." That doesn't mean that webOS will run as a virtualized instance within Windows. Phil says, "it's not virtualization. It's an integrated WebOS experience we're looking to bring." He then adds, "We're working with Microsoft on the future of Windows and we're very optimistic on what that future is, but what we think is we can bring an enhancement to that." The goal is to create a large device footprint that makes webOS a very attractive platform to developers -- "you can develop your WebOS app that'll run on your phone, your slate and your PC," according to McKinney. Hmm, apparently HP didn't get the Elopcalypse memo about the "three-horse race" that considers HP's and RIM's ecosystems irrelevant.

Motorola exec nearly rules out Windows Phone completely, laments 'closed platform'

Motorola may have once said that it was "open" to developingWindows Phone 7 devices, but it looks like that possibility is now a whole lot less likely than it already was. Speaking at Mobile World Congress this week, Motorola's corporate vice president of software and services product management, Christy Wyatt, said that while she would never say never, she doesn't envision Motorola using Microsoft's OS, and added that "it's not something we're entertaining now." Wyatt went on to say that "there were a bunch of things that we believed about Microsoft that ended up not being true, mostly about what functionality it would have in what period of time," and further explained that Motorola is looking for "an opportunity to create unique value," and it doesn't feel it can do that on a "closed platform" like Windows Phone 7. Obviously, it does feel like it can create unique value with Android, and Wyatt dismissed concerns about a potential duopoly between Android and Apple, saying that "It could be a duopoly on platforms but I'm not sure why having another OS is a good or bad thing." Incidentally, she also said that the upgrade process for Motorola's Android phones has "humbled" the company a bit, and she promises improvements in the future, noting that "we were better with Froyo then with Éclair and we'll be even better with Gingerbread."

Video - Pathpartner demos 720p HD Skype videocalling using Android and OMAP 4

Putting Pathpartner and Ittiam right beside one another may not have been the best idea if these two were hot-headed, but shockingly, they were treating each other with a great deal of respect within Texas Instruments' MWC booth. All jesting aside, the former's 720p HD videocalling solution is aimed at an entirely different market than that of the latter. Rather than arranging for a four-way video conference, Pathpartner has concocted an Android app that enables 720p video calling over Skype -- you know, that VoIP application that you're already obsessed with. Currently, the company's working with Skype in hopes of getting it 'Skype-certified,' and like Ittiam, it's also chatting with a number of handset makers in hopes of getting it embedded on the phone's software stack from the get-go. 

Alexy Mathew Joseph, the company's senior technical lead, was on hand to showcase a demo running on a pair of OMAP 4-based development boxes, and the low-bitrate technology that he has helped create enabled smooth, high-def streaming of the call. We should mention that this particular demo was done over an Ethernet network, but he affirmed that it would operate on 3G and 4G networks as well. Also of note, the new software is capable on running on more than just TI equipment, though he wouldn't elaborate other than saying that NVIDIA's Tegra 2 was a platform he hasn't tested on just yet. Just think -- 720p Skype videocalls could be hitting your phone prior to the dawn of 2012, and the carrier's have to be weeping at the mere mention. Vid's past the break, per usual. 


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