Feb 21, 2011

Preview - A few thoughts about HTC Flyer

During the first two days of WMC 2011 (days zero and one) several tablets have been announced by Samsung and LG while other manufacturers like Motorola, Blackberry etc. have presented recently announced tablets. As we may learn by the LG example and its flagship and the tablet – the manufacturers are starting to re-invent the steam-powered laser wheel. Otherwise all the new products appear to be identical apart from the looks. But in case of tablets even the design is vastly the same. Despite this backdrop HTC managed to present an interesting tablet with a number of unusual features you can use in usual situations. Hit read more for the spec sheet!

Motorola Droid X 2 leaks

We've been hearing rumors of a Motorola Droid X 2 for a few days now from The Mobi Zone, complete with specs and pictures (above). Supposedly, it's the successor to the Droid X, with a similar appearance, Android 2.2 with MOTOBLUR, and the same 8 megapixel camera. Some of the leaked specs -- 4.3-inch qHD (960 x 540) display, 1GHz Tegra 2 dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM -- didn't sit well with us, since these closely match the upcoming LTE-equipped Droid Bionic. We did some digging around and one of our trusted sources confirmed that the Droid X 2 aka Droid X "squared" is indeed coming to Verizon in Q2 2011 without LTE. However, it appears to be a refreshed Droid X, with the same 4.3-inch WVGA (854 x 480) display, a 1.2GHz single-core CPU, and 768MB of RAM. It's not quite the powerhouse it was originally made out to be, but it now seems to be a better fit in the Droid family. We have also confirmed that the Droid X 2 will feature a front-facing camera.

Skype happy to offer jobs to any Finns who might be in need

Skype happy to offer jobs to any Finns who might be in needOver 1,000 disgruntled Nokistas walked off the job last week and, while presumably all of them showed up punctually on Monday morning, it remains to be seen how many will get proverbial pink slips as Elop starts making cuts. When that time comes Skype is happy to say that they'd like to hire as many as possible. CEO Tony Bates has no qualms about making the best of this situation, saying the following to Reuters:

There is going to be tremendous talent out there... "Our primary engineering focus just so happens to be somewhere between Finland, Estonia and Stockholm, so you can imagine that's a great opportunity and we're hiring.
Hear that, shunned Nokia elite? Now turn that frown upside down.

LG Revolution using 1GHz Snapdragon MSM8655, not NVIDIA's Tegra 2

Consider it a mystery solved. Throughout the week here in Barcelona, we've spent an inordinate amount of time chasing down suits from LG, Qualcomm, NVIDIA and Verizon Wireless to answer one simple question: "What's up with the processor in the Revolution?" If you'll recall, NVIDIA actually sent one of its own to Verizon's LTE press event at CES 2011, specifically to bust out a Revolution and gloat about the Tegra 2 chip within (video's after the break if you don't believe us). As it stood, it seemed as if the Thunderbolt and Revolution would be butting heads from a CPU standpoint, with the former definitively sporting a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8655. And then, came the confusion. We showed up at Qualcomm's booth here at Mobile World Congress to see which phone it was using to demonstrate the recently unveiled Netflix-on-Android support -- lo and behold, LG's Revolution was the handset of choice. Obviously, there had to be a new Snapdragon processor within, as only the newest of the new will have the necessary DRM libraries at a hardware level that are necessary to pass muster with the MPAA. Hit read more for details.

Exclusive: Sony 'S1' PlayStation tablet

Think for a second, what major consumer electronics company doesn't have a tablet to show? Right, Sony. In fact, the rumor womb has been conspicuously barren of salacious Sony tablet tattle ever since Apple's iPad was announced back in 2010. Oh sure, Sony's owned-up to the development of prototypes that fill a "very important position" somewhere in between its own Vaio PC lineup and the Xperia Play byproduct of its Ericsson commingling. But beyond that: zilch, nada... until today. Hit read more for details.

Exclusive for TechGuRu readers! Dell's 2011 smartphone and tablet lineup leaked: Android Ice Cream, WP7 sliders, and a slate running Windows 8

Wrigley, Hancock, Millennium, Gallo, Sterling, Rosemount, Silver Oak, Peju and Opus One. What are we rattling off? Oh, just the list of codenames from one of the largest leaks we've ever seen out of Dell.WPCentral and Android Central got their hands on alleged smartphone and tablet roadmaps for the entire year, detailing the company's plans for devices running operating systems that have yet to be formally announced, including Android Ice Cream (yes, Ice Cream!) and Windows 8 as well as the tablet-friendly Honeycomb. Here's the full rundown.


  • Things look pretty boring (and by boring, we mean beautifully curvy) until approximately mid-April of this year, when the Venue Pro gets some "additional features and enhancements" which we're pretty sure we can name.
  • Then, Q3 brings the Wrigley, what looks like a vertical QWERTY slider identifying itself as "Windows Phone 7 Next Gen," and sporting a 1GHz CPU, 4-inch 800 x 480 screen, and a 8 megapixel camera with 720p video recording. Nothing out of the ordinary, as far as we know.
  • By September, things should get very interesting as Android Ice Cream will apparently be out, and Dell's Hancock will scoop it onto a 4-inch qHD screen with dual cameras, dual-core processing and 1080p recording.
  • Starting Q4, would-be Hancock buyers will have a dual-core multimedia slate alternative, as the Millennium drops the keyboard for a larger 4.3-inch screen and DLNA support (though the front-facing camera is limited to VGA resolution.)
  • Dell's Streak 10 won't keep us waiting for long: come April, the Gallo will reportedly be chomping away at some tasty Honeycomb. But that's not all -- Dell lists a handwriting update for the Gallo in October or thereabouts. There's also a Streak 7 update scheduled for July -- we imagine that's the point when Dell believes it can shoehorn Android 3.0 onto its older brother.
  • Meanwhile, Dell's 10-inch Windows 7 slate, internally known as Rosemount, is slated for June, with a 1366 x 768 resolution that should allow for native playback of 720p video.
  • We can't tell you what the Sterling is, but it's likely a mid-sized one, as it's slated to take over the Streak 7's duties in or about October with Android Honeycomb on board.
  • Finally, come CES 2012 in January, we now expect Dell to drop three new tablets at once: theOpus One and Silver Oak running Android Honeycomb, and the Peju with Windows 8. (The Streak 10 / Gallo will apparently soldier on.) Numbers on the left of the charge suggest that the Opus will be small, the Silver Oak mid-sized, and the Peju large.
As noted at the head of the slide, all details here are subject to change, but we're sure as heck a lot more confident that Dell plans to do something with all those tacky mockups

Motorola pushes up Atrix 4G launch to Feb. 22, shoves Xoom pre-sales back to Feb. 20th?

The best laid plans of Motorola may be in disarray, as we hear the device manufacturer is shuffling release dates for its hottest new Android devices. Supposedly, AT&T customer service reps are getting the above message in their inbox, which suggests the modular Atrix 4G smartphone may arrive more than a week earlier than planned, while a Best Buy memo (image after the break) pegs Xoom tablet pre-sales for February 20th, three days after the date originally communicated. Still, we haven't heard anything to suggest that the Xoom won't be 100 percent ready for purchase on February 24th.

PlayOn app for Android 2.2 and above means Netflix, Hulu for all

There is another solution for Android owners disappointed that their phone or tablet may never support Netflix's official DRM specs, now that PlayOn has unleashed a version of its mobile app (already on iOS) for the platform. The free app uses Adobe Flash so it's limited to devices running Android 2.2. (Froyo) and above, but like Plex, coupled with a computer running the server software, it brings online video streams from almost any source including Watch Instantly, Hulu, ESPN3 and more over 3G or WiFi. Barring any kind of Roku-style bannination existing users should download the app and get going immediately, while new users can give the server a 14-day free trial before deciding whether or not to pay the $39.99 first year subscription fee -- check out the press release and video trailer after the break.

Sony Ericsson CTO: first LTE device coming 'pretty soon,' also considering Android tablets

Back in late 2008, Ericsson boldly predicted that 2012 will be the year of LTE; and fast forward to today, one year shy of the big one-two, said company's joint venture with Sony is already teasing its first LTE device. In a recent interview with Fierce Wireless, Sony Ericsson CTO Jan Uddenfeldt talked about SE's renewed focus on the US market, and how its relationship with Google helped securing its first-ever deal with Verizon. While emphasizing that SE's been in the CDMA business for years in Japan, Uddenfeldt also referred to the TD-LTE demonstration with ST-Ericsson and China Mobile at MWC, which featured a prototype LTE device developed by his own gang. Looks like SE's all set to enter the game, but the question is when will we see its first LTE device on the market? Uddenfeldt said "pretty soon," and he further fuels speculation by mentioning a potential collaboration with Sony on some Android tablets (maybe the S1?). Oh, such a teaser this man is.

Samsung's Galaxy S II to have a Tegra 2 version?

Just as we lay to rest the ghost of a phantom Tegra 2 chip inside the LG Revolution, here comes the specter of another unconfirmed appearance for NVIDIA's dual-core application processor, this time inside Samsung's Galaxy S II. If you'll recall, we were initially informed by Samsung's PR crew that their new Android flagship would run on NVIDIA's hardware, however a subsequent correction informed us that the processor inside would in fact be Samsung's own Exynos. Now, it turns out, both might be true.AnandTech have come across some benchmark results showing a GT-i9103 with Tegra 2 listed as its grunt provider, while Pocket-lint and others have noted that Samsung's own spec sheet for the Galaxy S II states that the dual-core Exynos "may not be applicable in some regions." The likeliest scenario here is that Samsung hasn't yet reached sufficient volumes with its own processor production and will rely on NVIDIA's Tegra 2 for handsets outside its critical markets -- much in the same vein as it replaced Super AMOLED with Super Clear LCD screens in Russia and some other territories. Don't fret too much, though, performance disparities between the two aren't likely to be overly significant.

NYT: Apple considering a cheaper iPhone, but not a smaller one right now

Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal seemed pretty sure that an iPhone nano was inbound, but the New York Times' anonymous sources dispute that tale -- the paper writes that "Apple is not currently developing a smaller iPhone," and that the company is "not planning to introduce a smaller iPhone anytime soon." While the publication doesn't outright deny the existence of such a device at any point in the story, it does quote an anonymous Apple executive as saying that it doesn't make sense for the company to create multiple iPhone form factors at any given time, and an anonymous Apple engineer as saying that cheaper components, not a smaller size, would make for a cheaper overall price. 

One thing's for sure: either Apple's making one, or it's not. In related news, the Times' sources corroborate the idea that Apple will make MobileMe free, and say that the next full-sized iPhone is nearly complete. Woo!

Apple maintains lead in mobile app store revenues, but its share is shrinking fast

Kudos must be handed out to all the top four app stores globally, as each one expended its total revenues by over 130 percent between 2009 and 2010. Interestingly, Apple's growth looks to be slowing down as the App Store begins to reach a saturation point on smartphones, while Nokia's Ovi Store and Google's Android Market blossomed during 2010 by multiples of 7.2 and 8.6 times their 2009 size. Apple's share at the top has shrunken as a consequence, a trend that looks likely to continue when Windows Phone 7's Marketplace and the Ovi Store are melded into one through this year and beyond.

Nokia giving developers free E7 and Nokia WP7 handsets

Nokia's fighting an uphill battle to retain its community of developers as it switches focus to Windows Phone and Microsoft's Windows Phone Developer Tools from what was a joint Symbian / MeeGo smartphone strategy unified under the Qt development framework. As such, Espoo just notified its Launchpad members that they'll be receiving about $1,000 in free hardware in the form of Nokia's new flagship E7 QWERTY slider and a "Nokia WP7 device" just as soon as it's available. Nokia's also tossing in a few other incentives like free access to the next Nokia World / Nokia Developer Summit, three months free tech support for all Nokia technologies (limited to 10 tickets), a free User Experience evaluation for one app, business development assistance, and help publishing apps on the Ovi store. This is also great news for us as the chance of seeing leaked pics of that first Nokia WP7 device have just increased dramatically.

Video - Google's MWC 2011 Android booth tour

It'd be no exaggeration to say that Google's Android booth at MWC 2011 has been the most popular of them all. The Mountain View secret to this preeminence has been some combination of putting cutesy costumes on its now iconic robot logo, installing a slide for weary geeks to reconnect to their childhood with, and operating a fully fledged smoothie bar that offered up free Honeycomb elixirs. In short, Ye Olde Google has aimed to be fun first and foremost and the crowds have responded by keeping its booth constantly busy. Heck, we even saw our buddy Stephen Elop walking by, though his panther-like quickness was too much for our cameras to document the moment. Never mind, we've still got a ton of photos and video for you below, so why not dig into those while they're still hot?

Latest Android Gingerbread release brings NFC and Bluetooth together for tappable sharing

Latest Android Gingerbread release brings NFC and Bluetooth together for tappable sharing
Sending a webpage from an HP Pre 3 to a Touchpad is as easy as tapping them together, a technique we've not previously seen -- but something that's now possible in the latest flavor ofGingerbread: Android 2.3.3. This adds some expanded functionality for working with the NFC chip found in the Nexus S (and, presumably, others soon) enabling, among other things, NFC to work with Bluetooth. As demonstrated a few weeks ago, the NFC chip can be used to send networking and establish a connection when the two phones touch, so no more manual pairing required, just sweet 

Motorola: 28 percent of 2010 revenue came from Verizon

Think the Atrix 4G might be a critical launch for Motorola right now? A fresh regulatory filing by Motorola today revealed that the company got a whopping 28 percent of its cash from Verizon last year -- up from 17 percent in 2009 -- a pretty powerful testament to the "Droid effect." The company goes on to say that "the loss of, or a significant reduction in revenue from, one or more of these customers could have a negative impact on [its] business," and it's pretty clear that the launch of the iPhone on Verizon will have at least someimpact this year. Question is, can they make up for the loss with a harder push on other carriers like AT&T?

Video - HTC Incredible S auto-rotating buttons explained?

We were quite bedazzled by the HTC Incredible S after our hands-on at MWC, but it's the auto-rotating icons for the capacitive buttons that left us most intrigued. So we went back to the HTC booth to try to make sense of it all. From what we were able to observe, there's some optical trickery happening here: the icons appear to be glittering and shimmering depending on viewing angle as if lit through a prism, half-mirror or grate of some kind. We think that a pair of LEDs are used to project the intended icon onto the glass surface via either a combination of prisms and half-mirrors, or via horizontally and vertically polarized grates. Watch our video after the break, and let us know in the comments how you think this actually works.


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