- Chrome OS machines leaked in bug reports: Acer netbook and touch-friendly Seaboard
- Samsung Galaxy S II review
- Hulu Plus on Xbox 360 launches tomorrow, all members get a free week thanks to beef jerky
- Army app store advances, tries to break through bureaucracy's defenses
- MSI gets a SteelSeries keyboard, builds the GX780 gaming notebook around it
- Verizon says its LTE network is back 'up and running'
- iPhone turntable concept brings dropped calls to your record collection
- Brammo taking its electric motorcycles offroad in Vegas next week, puts Zero on notice
- Apple's cloud streaming service to be called iCloud?
- Mini Cooper Connected app adjusts music based on driving style, stops when airbags deploy
- IPS and 3D come together in Mitsubishi's new 23-inch display
- NASA collects proposals for space fueling stations
- WiFi HTC Flyer visits the FCC, leaves behind a line-drawn calling card
- Samsung Central Station hands-on (video)
- Plextor PL-LB950UE Blu-ray burner lands in the US with heady mix of USB 3.0 speed and double-layer storage
- Barnes & Noble says Microsoft trying to make Android 'unusable and unattractive,' has a point
- Yamaha doubles down on PAS CITY electric bicycle battery longevity
- Acer Aspire Z5763 all-in-one comes with 3D screen, promises Kinect-like gesture control over movies
- Stephen Elop: Nokia won't build just another tablet
- Intel SSD 720, 710 and 520 Series leak out, Larsen Creek and Paint Creek bring up rear guard
- Verizon freezes Droid Charge launch indefinitely, blaming 'unexpected delays' (update: LTE back)
- Panasonic will layoff 17,000 workers globally (updated)
- Samsung Galaxy S II begins quest for 120 country domination
- Super Mario gets a Portal gun, you monster (video)
- Motorola Xoom software update brings SSL and Widevine DRM, no LTE quite yet
- Pioneer HDJ-500T-K cans uncoil, answer your phone calls
- Sharp walk-in display over-stimulates 32 guests at a time in Japanese theme park
- Square gets financial backing from Visa, asks to see some ID
- Intel's Larsen Creek SSDs leak out, courtesy of ASRock's Z68 motherboard
- Sony update on PSN / Qriocity outage: 'some services up and running within a week'
- HTC job post reveals intention to make a mark on American cars
- MIT's genetically modified viruses boost solar-cell efficiency by herding nanotubes
- Google Docs gets an Android app, we go hands-on with tiny spreadsheets (video)
- Nikon's D5100 impresses, captures children's birthday parties with incredible clarity
- RIM to launch 6.1 update as BlackBerry 7 OS at BlackBerry World next week?
- Verizon has 'determined the cause' of LTE outage, working to restore service
- Notion Ink Adam review
- LG Optimus Big brings a 4.3-inch NOVA display and 1GHz dual-core to the superphone party
- Rogers announces 150Mbps LTE launch in four Canadian cities this year
- Comcast is first with VOD from all four major networks, still negotiating for early release movies
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 10:48 AM PDT
Plowing through bug reports is a reliable way to dig up juicy morsels of info, and thanks to that timeless tactic we've got some specs on a pair of unannounced Chrome OS devices. First up is a netbook from Acer codenamed ZGB which, according to a recently filed report, will have a 1366 x 768 panel, presumably in the 10 to 12 inch range. We also know that you can hook up an external display to it via an HDMI port powered by an encoder chip from Chrontel. Since AMD's Fusion netbook platform supports HDMI natively, we can also safely assume that the ZGB will be running the web-only OS on an Atom processor. That's where the details end for now but, hey, it's better than nothing.
The other device, Seaboard, has been floating around the Chrome OS flaw depot for some time, but reports are finally starting to reveal some tantalizing details. We now know that it is powered by a Tegra 2 and sports a touchscreen -- the perfect place to test out those finger-friendly tweaks we've heard so much about. There are also mentions of a "lid switch" and a physical keyboard, indicating it may be a convertible or something in the vein of the Eee Pad Slider rather than a pure slate. The hybrid form factor would make perfect sense since it will house a pair of USB ports and an HDMI jack, which could make for a rather chunky tablet. Obviously, neither of these devices are confirmed yet (and Seaboard is most likely being used for internal testing only) but at least we've got a better idea of what to expect when the browser-based OS comes to consumers later this year.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 09:44 AM PDT
Samsung Galaxy S II, where have you been the past two months? The successor to one of the most popular Android handsets to date carries a burden of expectation almost as sizable as its 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen. It promises to be thinner, lighter, and faster than the Galaxy S that preceded it, while garnishing Android 2.3.3 with a set of TouchWiz customizations that might actually enhance, rather than hinder, the user experience. As such, the Galaxy S II earns Samsung full marks for ambition, but does this slinky new smartphone live up to its interstellar hype? The answer, as always, can be found after the break.
The Samsung Galaxy S II is 8.49mm (0.33 inches) thick. We whipped out a ruler and checked, it's true. Admittedly, that measurement expands a little at the handset's bottom, where a curvy bump houses its loudspeaker, and around the camera compartment, which protrudes ever so slightly from the rest of the body, but even at its thickest point, this phone doesn't allow itself to go beyond the 1cm mark. Given the veritable spec sheet overload that Samsung has included within the Galaxy S II, we consider its thin profile a stunning feat of engineering. In terms of the pursuit of the absolute slimmest device, NEC's MEDIAS N-04C is still the champ at 7.7mm, but global audiences should feel comfortable in replacing the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, which measures 8.7mm at its thinnest point, with the Galaxy S II for their benchmark slim device.
More importantly, Samsung's new 4.3-inch handset feels better in the hand than the Arc, thanks to its intelligently curved sides that provide a comfortable and assured grip. The textured rear cover also feels good to the touch, and should withstand nicks and scratches a lot better than the original Galaxy S' backplate, though don't expect its featherlight construction to contribute much to the phone's overall rigidity. That will be provided by the still-mostly-plastic frame surrounding the phone's screen. We found little cause to doubt the Galaxy S II's durability, though we certainly wouldn't go recommending it as the phone for the builder in your life. There's a minuscule crevice between the handset's frame and screen that looks prone to gathering dust if exposed to dirty environments, and in spite of the generally reassuring build quality, the Galaxy S II is still made out of plastic rather than something more robust like HTC or Nokia's all-aluminum cases.
Returning to the screen, it's fronted by one continuous sheet of glass, which protects a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display along with a batch of sensors and a front-facing camera at the top, and two capacitive Android keys at the bottom. The earpiece and Home button are the only disruptions to the sleek glass surface. Whatever coating Samsung has applied to the Galaxy S II's screen works very well, as it resists smudges and fingerprint marks much better than the average smartphone. A volume rocker and a power / lock key each take up one side of the GSII, with a 3.5mm headphone jack adorning its top and a micro-USB charging / data port at the bottom. That's it, no frills, no extras, and -- to the dismay of some -- no dedicated camera shutter button. At least the controls you do get all work very well. The side-mounted buttons do their job without fuss and touchscreen responsiveness is impeccable. The Menu and Back keys are purely capacitive, whereas the Home button is, well, an actual button -- it requires you to physically depress it in order to register input. That distinction may feel a bit awkward at first, but we rather enjoyed it. It meant accidental key taps were all but impossible to achieve and gave a more definitive nature to punching the Home key, which somehow felt appropriate given the fact it yanks you out of whatever you're doing and back to the homescreen.
The Galaxy S II's screen is nothing short of spectacular. Blacks are impenetrable, colors pop out at you, and viewing angles are supreme. This would usually be the part where we'd point out that qHD (960 x 540) resolution is fast becoming the norm among top-tier smartphones and that the GSII's 800 x 480 is therefore a bit behind the curve, but frankly, we don't care. With a screen as beautiful as this, such things pale into insignificance. And we use that verb advisedly -- whereas the majority of LCDs quickly lose their luster when you tilt them away from center, color saturation and vibrancy on the Galaxy S II remain undiminished. It is only at extreme angles that you'll notice some discoloration, but that's only if you're looking for it and takes nothing away from the awe-inspiring experience of simply using this device.
Whether you're pushing it to its limits with movie watching or just tamely browsing the web, the Super AMOLED Plus panel inside the Galaxy S II never fails to remind you that it's simply better than almost everything else that's out there. For an instructive example of the contrast on offer here, take a look at our recent post regarding the LG Optimus Big's upcoming launch in Korea. The pattern on that handset's white back was so subtle on our desktop monitor that we completely missed it, whereas when we looked at the same image on the GSII, it looked clear as day. Maybe that doesn't speak too highly of the monitors we're working with, but it underlines the supremacy of the display Samsung has squeezed into the Galaxy S II.
We'd even go so far as to say it's better than the iPhone 4's screen, purely because, at 4.3 inches, it gives us so much more room to work with. It's almost impossible to split the two up in terms of quality of output, they're both top notch. Notably, however, that was also true of Samsung's original Super AMOLED display, the one that graced the 4-inch Galaxy S, and by now you must be wondering if there's actually anything significant enough in the new S-AMOLED technology to justify appending that "Plus" to its name. The short answer is yes, and it's all in the pixels.
The one major downside to the original Super AMOLED panel was to be found in its PenTile matrix subpixel arrangement. It employed an RGBG pattern, wherein you got two green subpixels for every pair of red and blue ones, but the overall resolution was counted on the basis of green subpixels. Ergo, a PenTile 800 x 480 resolution wasn't as rich at the subpixel level as your standard RGB screen (768,000 versus 1,152,000), which resulted in slightly grainier images than would otherwise have been the case. Well, that "otherwise" scenario is now with us, because Samsung has switched to a Real-Stripe RGB array in the 4.3-inch Galaxy S II, which means it packs the full 1.152 megasubpixel count and, as we've already noted, the display looks delectable for it. A lesser criticism of the original Galaxy S was that its colors were a little blown out and oversaturated, but that's once again rendered moot on the successor device -- a software setting called Background effect allows you to tweak saturation, so if you're feeling a little melancholy, you can tone down the intensity of your handset's colors to match your ennui. Basically, if we haven't made it clear already, this is everything that Super AMOLED was, minus the bad parts and plus an extra .3 inches in real estate. A triumph.
Okay, there is one mildly irritating aspect about the Galaxy S II's screen and that's the auto-brightness -- it tends to hunt around for the correct setting and occasionally makes jarring jumps between darker and brighter values. Whether that's down to the ambient light sensor or the software reading data from it isn't all that important, what's relevant is that we found ourselves more comfortable with a human helming the brightness controls.
The story of the Galaxy S II's battery life cannot be told without returning to its luscious screen. Being an OLED panel, the 4.3-inch display here doesn't use one single backlight as LCD screens do, and instead only illuminates the pixels that are needed to actively display content. This is the reason why it can generate truer blacks than any backlit panel, but it also permits the user to optimize battery life by doing such things as switching to a darker wallpaper or reading ebooks against a black background. We didn't actually bother with such tweaks, we were too busy exploring every one of the myriad features and options on this phone, but the option's there as an extra dimension of obsessive control if you care for it. As to the Galaxy S II's actual endurance, we found it highly competitive with the latest batch of Android phones. After 20 hours, half of which were filled with the above tinkering and exploration, we managed to drag the Galaxy S II down to 15 percent of its original charge. This was with our usual push notification suppliers, Gmail and Twitter, running in the background and while constantly connected to our WiFi network.
Using the Android System Info app (available for free on the Android Market), we found confirmation that the Galaxy S II is indeed running a 1.2GHz ARMv7 dual-core processor, but more importantly, we also dug up a breakdown of how often the SOC was reaching that max speed. Only 9.2 percent of our use harnessed the full 1.2GHz, with Samsung wisely downclocking its chip to as low as 200MHz when the phone's idling (that accounted for 46 percent of the Galaxy S II's uptime). What's impressive about this is that we never hit upon any performance bumps to indicate that we were running at slower speeds. Clearly, Samsung's power management system is doing its job well. In summary, we expect you'll be able to get a solid couple of days' regular use out of the Galaxy S II -- our experience with it mirrored what we got out of HTC's Incredible S and Desire S that recently crossed our review bench -- though processor-intensive activities like HD video playback will eat into that, as will the variability of 3G coverage. What we can say with absolute certainty is that the Galaxy S II is no slouch when put against its contemporaries. It also marks a definite improvement in longevity over the original Galaxy S.
Loudspeaker / earpiece
The loudspeaker is surprisingly passable, hell, it's more than passable. We're probably being swayed by the gorgeous screen on this phone, but playing back video without relying on headphones feels just fine, unlike the usual grinding chore that it is on most current phones. That being said, Tinie Tempah's Pass Out -- a song that starts out dominated by deep bass -- sounds like a hilarious remix of the original on the GSII owing to the speaker's inability to dip down low enough to sound out the track's bassline. Bass deprivation is a typical shortcoming of smartphones, which isn't looking likely to find a fix any time soon. You still won't be forced to abandon your dubstep addiction while on the move, however, as Samsung bundles a solid pair of in-ear headphones that do a very respectable job of both isolating external noise and delivering audio to your cranium. Including an in-line mic that doubles as a music play / pause button is no bad thing either. We'd be remiss not to point out that the Galaxy S II's loudspeaker is positioned rather poorly -- it and the two slits cut into the phone's rump for its output face the rear. Laying the handset down on a flat surface immediately alters the sound and a stray finger - a single fleshy finger -- can mute almost everything.
The earpiece performed as close to the middle of the road as you can get. Calls sounded good on our end and equally so on the other side. We had a couple of garbled moments during one conversation, but that's more likely due to network performance than some fault on the Galaxy S II. As to the network itself, the GSII exhibited no reception issues or aberrant behavior, though we weren't able to check out its rated 21.1Mbps HSPA+ speeds on our UK carrier.
Samsung eschews the default Gingerbread camera app for its own effort, which comes with a neat slice of customization. The left menu column gives you three shortcut slots for the functions you consider most relevant to your photographic exploits. By default, two of them are populated with a button to flip between the rear-facing 8 megapixel and front-facing 2 megapixel camera and another one for controlling the flash, but you can do whatever you fancy. Resolution, ISO, scene and shooting modes, or adjustments like white balance, contrast, metering, and after-effects can all be included in there. And if you consider different things important when in video mode, that's no problem, because that retains its own set of shortcuts separate from the stills mode. It's a fully realized suite of options, even if most users will neglect the left side and just keep bashing the capture key on the right.
When they do so, they'll be treated to some excellent results. The camera compartment on the back of the Galaxy S II justifies its size (it's still tiny, it just happens to protrude a little bit from the ultrathin GSII body) with the collection of great detail in nearly every shot. What most impressed us about this sensor is that images remained relatively sharp at full resolution -- such as the one you see above, it's a 100 percent crop from an 8 megapixel capture -- with Samsung feeling confident enough in the quality of its hardware to apply almost no noise-reducing blur under default settings. That does permit for graininess to sneak into some images, but on the whole, we're looking at one of the finest smartphone camera sensors around. Closeup shots are handled very well too, in spite of the lack of a dedicated macro mode. The flash is a typically overpowered LED unit, though we were impressed to see the Galaxy S II use it while focusing on a nearby object but not while shooting -- had it been used in the shot, the flash would've whitewashed the entire composition, so it's good to see the software showing a timely bit of restraint.
The only real issue we encountered was that that the GSII's sensor has a predictably narrow dynamic range, meaning that photographs with high contrast between dark and well-lit areas end up with either deep shadows or blown out highlights, depending on which you opt to focus on. Then again, that can lead to some highly artistic / moody shots, so we're not too sure this is a major downer. A limitation, sure, but not something that will seriously impact your enjoyment of snapping pics with this phone.
As to video, it too looks crisp and sharp, though the ever-present rolling shutter effect is very much in evidence when there's rapid motion on screen (see the bus passing by in the sample below). Provided you don't insist on panning around too quickly or recording hound races from the sidelines, that shouldn't pose much of a problem. There's little in the way of image stabilization too, but again, so long as your ambitions stretch no further than casual HD video, the Galaxy S II should prove more than sufficient.
Even when pushed to record at 1080p, the Galaxy S II showed no sign of slowdown or even any processing lag. Speed of operation, both in stills and video, is as fast as we've seen yet. The time taken to enter the camera app, process one image and be ready for the next, and to switch between camera and camcorder modes was in all cases supreme. We consider that a big part of a successful camera's mechanics -- being able and ready to respond to the user immediately instead of making him -- so the Galaxy S II scores another big tick from us. Samsung also provides a Photo editor app that lets you tweak, crop and stylize your imagery. It covers all the basics and throws in a few fun extras for those who like to experiment.
General responsiveness is absolutely exemplary. If you've read what we had to say about the G2x and the way it simply flies through homescreens, menus and applications, you'll know that we have a high bar for Android performance already set, but the Galaxy S II beats it anyway. There's simply never been an Android handset this smooth and this fluid in its operation. Nothing phases the GSII, and the only time we got it to show any performance dropoff was in enacting a pinching gesture on the home screen to bring up an Exposé-like overview of all seven homescreens. That's seven fully loaded-out homescreens with information updating live (multiple clocks plus news and weather feeds) and the only thing that recipe for memory overload produced was a slight stutter in animating the zooming effect. There's just no getting around the extravagant amounts of power this device has and we can't wait to see Samsung jam one of these Exynos chips inside a future tablet or two.
We know you like your benchmarks, so we might as well hit you with those all-important numbers. Do take heed, however, that graphical tests such as those in Quadrant and Neocore perform at the phone's native resolution, which will bias results in favor of lower-res screens -- so don't take what you see as a conclusive performance comparison, use it just as an indicator. With that out of the way, here are the scores: Quadrant gave us results in the 3,000 to 3,400 range, Linpack produced an average of 47 MFLOPS, and Nenamark and Neocore both brought in a 59.8fps average that was limited by a 60fps software cap on the phone (a suspicion that was further confirmed by running Fps2D and seeing the same behavior). It's a shame that we weren't able to properly quantify the true maximum capability of the Exynos dual-core chip and Mali-400 graphics within, but that Quadrant score can be taken as highly representative of the chasm that exists between the Galaxy S II and smartphones that have come before it. It really is that much better. Put simply, this is the most powerful mobile handset we've yet tested.
Browser performance is superb in terms of speed but a little troubled when it comes to rendering. In our use of the Galaxy S II, we were consistently met with pronounced aliasing when viewing webpages from a more distant, zoomed-out view. There were no issues in terms of the structure of the page, all sites organized themselves exactly as their makers designed them, but pulling out for an overview brought out the jaggy lines and generally looked unattractive. That's not, however, a functional flaw, it's just a superficial scratch on a muscly brawler. In terms of actually navigating webpages, the Galaxy S II is outstanding. Page scrolling is so smooth it borders on slippery, pinch-to-zoom is flawless, and re-orienting the screen from portrait to landscape and back is done in a flash.
Oh, did we say Flash? One entirely aberrant aspect of our review handset was that we couldn't get it to play back any in-browser Flash content. Instead, it encouraged us to upgrade our Flash Player. We did so, downloading and installing Flash Player 10.2, but still had no joy. This seems like an unhappy fluke and we'll see how Samsung responds to our queries on the matter. For now, given this phone's exquisite general performance and terrific browser agility, we're happy to overlook this oddity. Retail units should be able to play Flash right out of the box. Just about every Android handset we've reviewed this year has been able to do so with little issue and we expect the Galaxy S II to be no different.
Android should already be a familiar friend (sometimes foe) to most of you, so we'll just go ahead and dive right into what Samsung has done on top of the Android 2.3.3 base on the Galaxy S II with its latest set of OS customizations, dubbed TouchWiz 4.0. For a deeper exploration of what's new and improved in the Gingerbread iteration of Google's operating system, check out our Nexus S review.
We start at the inevitable beginning, namely the lock screen. The Galaxy S II's lock screen won't offer the same hotbed of activity that you might find in HTC's new Sense 3.0, but it does come with some pretty awesome functionality of its own. Missed calls and unread messages become little tabs on the side of your locked GSII, which you may swipe into view and thereby unlock the phone straight into the message or call that needs your attention. It's slick, as fast as everything else on this speedster of a phone, and it adds real utility to your day-to-day use. Speaking of calls, your options when receiving one are to to pick up, hang up, or reject with a text message -- with a slide-up menu offering you the most common apologetic missives to send out. When the shoe's on the other foot and you're seeking to reach out to your nearest and dearest, swiping right on their name in the Contacts list will initiate a call, while swiping left will start the composition of a text. Each contact card also comes with a history of communications between you and the other party, providing gentle reminders of when you last checked in with your neglected friends. The Galaxy S could do some of this fancy stuff too, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that we're looking at genuinely useful additions that enhance the Android user experience.
Long-pressing the Home button brings you to an app switcher exhibiting six of your most recently active apps, with a Task Manager loitering with malicious intent beneath them. Entering that Manager lets you view active tasks along with their RAM and CPU cycle consumption, with an option to kill them if you feel it necessary, and to then flush from the phone's memory any remnants of their operation. Not that you'll really need to be micromanaging either of those things with 1GB of RAM and oodles of processing power, but still, it's a useful feature to have. Also available is a Program Monitor widget for your homescreen that shows the number of active applications at any given time and links you into the same Task Manager menu. Looking at its fluctuating count, we could see the phone was selectively deactivating some apps as we increased the number of open programs. That never led to us losing data or having to restart apps, so whatever resource management is kicking in looks to be doing its job judiciously and with precision.
Samsung also throws a trifecta of motion sensor-assisted functions into the Galaxy S II. The first is something you might be familiar from HTC's Sense: flipping the phone to face the floor mutes all sounds, whether they be incoming calls or media playing on the device. Unlike HTC's implementation, however -- which had an unfortunate tendency to be hit and miss in its recognition -- Samsung's "Turn over" feature works without hitch each and every time. We're big fans of this seemingly benign option because it combines the physical gesture of turning the sound source away from you with the software response of switching all audio off. It feels natural and can be seen as a representation of where phones may and ought to be headed, to a place where they predict and judge your intent using a higher level of intelligence than the usual impassive expectation of conventional input.
The other two motion controls are truly novel and, we suspect, will be quite neat party tricks for Galaxy S II users to show off. Tilt-zoom gives you a new way to zoom within the browser and picture gallery app, whereby you tilt the phone up to enlarge an image or down to shrink it. This is activated by placing two fingers on the screen simultaneously and comes with a sensitivity adjustment for users to tailor it to their whims. We don't know if we'd ever come to use tilt-zoom over the tried and tested pinch-to-zoom functionality -- which is naturally also present here -- but the Galaxy S II makes zooming of any kind a pleasure to behold. As already outlined above, this phone just executes zooms and animations exactly as they were meant to be done. Having dealt with tilting, Samsung also gives us a panning motion function, which comes in handy when reorganizing your homescreens. There are seven of them in total and any grizzled Android user will know the chore of having to transition through multiple screens to get an icon positioned just right. Samsung's bright idea here has been to use the accelerometer to recognize the phone's lateral motion and react to it by moving you through the homescreens. This motion-aided panning is only accessible when you're rearranging your widgets or shortcuts, but once you understand that a 90-degree turn will jump you three homescreens in a given direction, navigation can be made delightfully quick.
The Galaxy S II's onscreen keyboard is terrific, allowing us to get up to a fast typing speed within almost no time at all. Samsung needn't feel too smug about it, though, as this is an almost identical recreation of the default Gingerbread button pad. The Korean company has opted to include a dedicated button for voice input in the place of the comma, which is now relegated to hanging out with the rest of the punctuation crew in the secondary keyboard mode for symbol / numerical input. We're not thrilled by this change, as we use commas a hell of a lot more than voice input, but we recognize the reason why Samsung did it -- two of its pre-launch ads for the Galaxy S II were focused on the use of its Voice Talk feature to perform effortless handsfree communication. Only problem is that the reality of using the Vlingo-powered Voice Talk is more an exercise in frustration than anything else. It's also been given priority by dedicating a double-tap of the Home button to it (from wherever you are on the phone), but once you actually get into the app itself, you clash with slow (purely because of the software) operation, a consistent failure to properly recognize common words, and a generally unrewarding user experience. It's a gimmick, pure and simple. Whatever value you extract from using it will be be the result of sheer stubbornness on your part rather than good software design.
Alas, we can't say anything much more positive about Samsung's set of Hubs on the phone. There are Game, Music, Readers, and Social Hubs, however we found everything other than the ebook reader a waste of time. The Game Hub doesn't yet offer anything that differentiates it from simply searching out games on the Android Market, the Music Hub tries to sell you stuff without providing a compelling reason to jump into yet another online music store, and the Social Hub tries to convince you that you need it to organize all your social feeds, messages, and email. Such centralized control might have been handy earlier on in Android's development, but the native Gmail and Gtalk apps have evolved to provide trouble-free use, while the Twitter client for the platform is now more than mature enough to handle itself. What we're looking at, then, is redundant functionality. The Readers Hub, as we say, is the one that we can see ourselves actually using, mostly owing to the inclusion of the Kobo e-reader software, though it too seems geared more toward selling you stuff than actually serving users' needs.
We'll finish off with a quick run through the rest of Samsung's additions to the Android experience. Sharing over DLNA is made stupidly simple with the AllShare app, and if you're on a Windows PC, you can just browse through the device's stored music, video and pictures and access content on the fly. The whole process is as seamless as it is wireless. The persistent "dock" at the bottom of the homescreen is not customizable (as it is on Sony Ericsson's latest batch of Android phones, for example). It gives you access to your Phone, Contacts, Messaging, and Apps list, and hopes you'll like them, because if you don't... tough! The Applications menu isn't the best we've ever seen either. Don't get us wrong, its navigation exhibits the same stupendous speed and responsiveness as the rest of the phone, but automated reorganization into alphabetical or date order isn't available. You can only switch to a list view or manually rejig the way the apps are listed on each page. Screenshots of whatever the Galaxy S II is displaying can be taken by pressing the Home and power buttons simultaneously. It's not yet a common feature among Android devices, but we'd like it to become one. We're also happy to see Samsung maintain its long-held tradition of providing some of the weirdest ringtones around, the vast majority of which seem wholly unsuitable for anyone but the most obnoxious of users. Nevertheless, we did manage to unearth a rare gem in the Cassiopeia tone, which sounds like a slowed-down version of the Metal Gear Solid codec chime.
For a handset with such a broad range of standout features and specs, the Galaxy S II is remarkably easy to summarize. It's the best Android smartphone yet, but more importantly, it might well be the best smartphone, period. Of course, a 4.3-inch screen size won't suit everyone, no matter how stupendously thin the device that carries it may be, and we also can't say for sure that the Galaxy S II would justify a long-term iOS user foresaking his investment into one ecosystem and making the leap to another. Nonetheless, if you're asking us what smartphone to buy today, unconstrained by such externalities, the Galaxy S II would be the clear choice. Sometimes it's just as simple as that.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 09:39 AM PDT
Hulu Plus will launch on Xbox 360 tomorrow amid a slew of promotions, the first of which will provide free access to the service for all US-based Xbox Live members (free or paid) through May 6th courtesy of Jack Link's Beef Jerky. We should be able to get some hands on time with the app in a few. Until then you can imagine what it will be like to watch
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 09:18 AM PDT
Army Marketplace may be mired in bureaucratic muck, but the depot for mobile military apps isn't simply stagnating in a stack of paperwork somewhere. Developers and commanders are still pushing forward with the project and hoping for the best. There are already 17 apps for Android and 16 for iPhones, created as part of the Apps for the Army contest last year, and designers have whipped up prototypes for the homepage (above) and personalized user pages (after the break) where soldiers can post ideas for apps, request features from devs, and write reviews. The chief of the Army's Mobile Applications Branch, Lt. Col. Gregory Motes, hopes the Marketplace will make its debut at LandWarNet in August, even if there won't be any approved smartphones to access it for several months after that. At least the military claim one victory, when its app store launches it'll already have more titles than TegraZone.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 08:44 AM PDT
MSI's newly announced GX780 notebook combines a colorful backlit 102-key SteelSeries-designed keyboard with the (relative) portability of an 8.6 pound gaming laptop. The keyboard features 1,000 different color combinations, five lighting modes, 10 key simultaneous input, and a layout the company calls "The Golden Triangle" -- trademark pending, we're sure. The 17.3 inch notebook has some solid non-keyboard specs as well, including GeForce GT555M graphics, a second gen Intel Core i7 processor, and an impressive maximum 16GB of DDR3. No word on pricing or availability, but hopefully the MSRP isn't as colorful as that keyboard. Full press release after the break.
Born to Play, Born to Win
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 08:23 AM PDT
Well, it looks like this week's other massive outage is now officially behind us -- Verizon just issued a brief statement to let us know that its 4G LTE network is now "up and running." Details on exactly what caused the outage remain light, however, with the company only saying that "network engineers and vendors quickly identified the issue and solved it." What's more, while it says that Thunderbolt users should now have "normal service," those with LTE modems may still have some problems when switching between 3G and 4G modes, although that will apparently "continue to improve."
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 08:09 AM PDT
quite as good as a record. Unfortunately, the format has a few major drawbacks, like a lack of portability and the fact that it really sucks at making phone calls. The iPhone, on the other hand, is light years ahead of those fronts -- well, one of out two ain't bad. This new concept from designer Olivier Meynard offers the best of both worlds, embedding a horizontal iPhone dock next to a wheel of steel, so you can play back your favorite LP through the built-in speakers and encode those tracks as MP3s, which are uploaded to your handset as it charges. Finally, a way to turn your long out of print prog rock albums into ringtones, as they were meant to be heard.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 07:46 AM PDT
Enertia, right -- that sweet electric motorcycle from Brammo? Well, a few years back the company slapped some dirt bike tires on this silent cycle (seen above) and taunted the world with the possibility of an Earth-friendly offroad ride. Such a creation never made it to market, sadly, but it looks like the company may finally be ready to deliver. The bike hounds over at Asphalt & Rubber were digging through the AMA MiniMoto SX supercross race list of entrants when they spotted the Brammo name... which is odd since the Oregon-based company's current vehicles are all street-only affairs. Guess Zero Motorcycles better watch its back, there may be new challenger for king of the electric dirt bike hill. We won't have to wait long to know for sure -- the Brammo team will be launching its latest creation through the muddy, hairpin turns at the South Point Arena in Vegas next week.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 07:16 AM PDT
music streaming service. We received anonymous tips about this name in the past, and now Om Malik is reporting some interesting history, that the domain iCloud.com is owned by a company called Xcerion, which recently re-branded its cloud-based storage service from iCloud to CloudMe. TechCrunch reached out to the company and got a beautifully-worded non-denial talking about how the new name better embraces the company's cross-platform approach. That it does, but the timing is interesting. Obviously nothing is confirmed, but with Warner and at least one other of the big four record labels signed on, we'd guess the real name for this service should be drifting into view any time now.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 06:53 AM PDT
Mini Connected app made us yearn for a chance to hit the road. Version 2.0 brings this headline feature to the iPhone, which includes exclusively-composed music that adjusts based on things like a compatible Mini Cooper's "longitudinal and lateral acceleration." In other words, the faster and crazier you drive, the more exciting the music becomes. So instead of having mom in the passenger seat begging you to slow down, there's music that encourages you to do the opposite. The press release even references a "hallmark Mini go-kart feeling," so you might want to make sure everyone's buckled up before you plug in. Should anyone fail to do so, a new feature called Mission Control will let you know, also nagging about poor driving conditions. How's that for a mixed signal?
Driving fun, the enjoyment of music and social networks: MINI Connected with new functions. MINI opens the door to the next level of intelligent networking – Latest MINI Connected App with new entertainment features – Integration of the Apple iPhone enables use of innovative services using the on-board control system and a smartphone.
27.04.2011 Press Release Munich. MINI Connected gives drivers an even more intense experience of limitless driving fun, and allows that experience to be tailored to personal preferences and even shared with other users. Now the intelligent link-up of the driver, the MINI and the outside world has reached a new stage. The extended MINI Connected App gives Apple iPhone users access to innovative functions designed to enhance driving fun, entertainment and social networking. MINI therefore takes the lead once again in the intelligent link-up of the car with the outside world. In the future, the MINI Connected App will allow users to send posts composed on their Apple iPhone while on the move via online social networks Facebook and Twitter. With the Dynamic Music function, meanwhile, every journey in the MINI can be enjoyed to the soundtrack of specially arranged songs, whose rhythm and sound volume adjust to the driving style at any one time. Added to which, the new MINI Connected App now gives the globally unique in-car infotainment function Mission Control two different angles.
To use the MINI Connected App, owners need to specify their MINI with the MINI Visual Boost radio or MINI navigation system, plus the MINI Connected option. Functions integrated into the car via an Apple iPhone can be operated using the joystick, the steering wheel buttons or the on-board monitor. Innovative technology designed to aid the integration of the Apple iPhone into the car gives owners the option to access a wide range of updates and extended services. And the latest version of the MINI Connected App – available from the Apple App Store – allows the latest functions to be transferred into the car. All of which means that MINI Connected customers have a clear road ahead of them when it comes to accessing in-car infotainment innovations both now and into the future.
Always in contact thanks to extended use of Facebook and Twitter.
Among the functions unique in the MINI segment are access to the GoogleTM local search and GoogleTM Send to Car services and reception of user-definable RSS news feeds, the content of which is displayed on the on-board monitor and can be read out using the optional voice output function. Added to which MINI enables the use of web-based social networks in the car. MINI Connected customers can receive Facebook and Twitter posts inside the car, display them on the on-board monitor and have them read out using the optional MINI Connected voice output function. In the same way, preformatted text messages can be sent out directly from the car using either service.
The new MINI Connected App now allows posts composed on an iPhone to be accessed inside the car. A list of the posts already stored in the iPhone can be shown on the on-board monitor during a journey. Updated vehicle data, information on the driver's destination and the outside temperature can be added to posts and then posted on the desired network at the touch of a button.
More driving fun with Dynamic Music.
The Dynamic Music function likewise featured in the new MINI Connected App contains a selection of exclusively composed music which can be played back through the audio system of the MINI. These pieces of music adapt their rhythm and dynamic flow according to the driving style. The driver can choose from a wide variety of tracks and genres using the on-board monitor and joystick. The desired sound is then modulated according to factors including the car's longitudinal and lateral acceleration. All of which allows MINI Connected customers to create a MINI-specific soundtrack for the hallmark MINI go-kart feeling according to their mood and driving style.
The MINI Connected App also offers customers variety unmatched in this segment when it comes to tailoring their music selection in other ways. The web radio function allows users to pick up their preferred stations, regardless of their location, while on the move in the MINI. The station database available through the application contains thousands of radio stations whose programmes can be accessed online.
Typically MINI and unique: Mission Control with new functions.
As an alternative to the web radio function, MINI Connected customers can also use an Apple iPhone to activate the Mission Control function. Another feature of the new MINI Connected App, this service offers a further innovative in-car entertainment option to make your driving fun even more varied, in keeping with the unmistakable character of the brand. Mission Control analyses numerous signals relating to the vehicle, the driving situation and the vehicle's surroundings to provide the driver with relevant information and advice, all generated in dialogue form. These dialogues are based, among other things, on input regarding safety and comfort settings – ranging from a request that the driver and passengers buckle up their seat belts to instructions on the use of the air conditioning system – and also incorporate up-to-date information on driving conditions and the current status of the vehicle, such as the outside temperature and the amount of fuel in the tank.
The system's extensive pool of comments ensures variety in the interaction between the MINI and its driver, even when situations on the road recur on a daily basis. And now the new MINI Connected App gives the Mission Control function's repertoire two different angles. The range of advice can be varied by the driver as desired. Among the features supported by the Mission Control function are the use of the MINIMALISM Analyser included in MINI Connected. Once again usable in conjunction with an iPhone, this function generates visible and – thanks to Mission Control – audible alerts to give drivers tips on how to make their individual driving style even more efficient.
The on-board technology assesses a variety of vehicle data during a journey, allowing tips to be passed on to drivers while they are at the wheel to help them reduce fuel consumption. The MINIMALISM Analyser also gives MINI drivers the option of swapping information with fellow owners to draw up an efficiency ranking list. The tips generated by Mission Control to promote an extremely efficiency-focused driving style take an entertaining route to helping drivers improve their position on the MINIMALISM Ranking list.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 06:28 AM PDT
IPS display and the in-your-face action that only a 3D monitor can provide? Well, Mitsubishi's got you covered with its new 23-inch LED backlit IPS panel that promises Full HD resolution, 178-degree viewing angles, and a 3.8 millisecond response time from a 39 millimeter-thick slab of screen. Content comes to the RDT233WX-3D through a DVI-D connector, two HDMI 1.4 ports, and D5 connections, while your eyeballs see things in three dee with the included passive 3D glasses. It'll be available on May 30 in the Land of the Rising Sun (no word if it'll come across the Pacific) for an undisclosed amount. Those interested in getting one to the US can enlist the services of their local importer -- an open wallet or a blank check should do the trick.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 06:05 AM PDT
getting back home alive, for one thing. And then there's the issue of fuel, something long distance trips require a lot of -- but stocking up on here on Earth means potential weight problems at launch. One proposal offered up in the past is space-based fueling stations conveniently located in key spots on the way to a distant destinations like the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. NASA is collecting proposals that can demonstrate the validity of such a plan, including the ability to store liquid oxygen and hydrogen, transfer it, and have a ship approach for fueling. If you think you've got your bases covered -- and can keep it under $200 million -- you've got until May 31st at 11:59 PM EST to hand over a proposal.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 05:31 AM PDT
HTC Flyer -- well, assuming you decide to get in on the company's 7-inch dose of Android, and also assuming that HTC ever decides to actually release the thing in the US. We assume it does, as the machine has just been given the blessing of the FCC. This looks to be a WiFi-only model, also tested for BlueTooth compliance, but lacking 3G. So, if you got your pre-order in last week know that there's at least nothing federal standing between you and your $499 aluminum slice of Gingerbread, which we're still hoping will ship before the spring is through.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 05:11 AM PDT
drive-by peep show. Nearly four months later, it's about to go on sale, and Samsung finally let us play with a final unit. For those of you who missed it in Vegas, the Central Station is a 1080p monitor that doubles as a docking station, replete with HDMI and VGA output, a speaker port, four USB ports (two of 'em USB 3.0), plus an additional USB port just for wired connections (more on that in a bit). The best part, of course, is that all of this docking happens wirelessly with the help of a small dongle that plugs into your laptop's USB port -- even if it's of the 2.0 variety. The promise is that all you need to do is walk within range of the monitor to be able to mirror (or extend) your desktop, stream 1080p video, and access USB peripherals, such as external hard drives. So is this display as simple to use as advertised? Mosey on past the break and check out our hands-on video to see for yourself.
The Central Station's foolproof setup reminds us of Intel Wireless Display -- incidentally, another technology that lets you send 1080p video from a laptop to a big screen. To get started, just plug the discreet dongle into your notebook's USB port. A small window appears onscreen and, unless you happen to invest in more than one of these things, it'll be crystal clear which Central Station you need to highlight and select.
The dongle, which uses Samsung's proprietary wireless technology, has a range of five feet -- a fraction of the 30-foot leeway you'll get with a typical Bluetooth device. So if you imagined using this to stream movies from another room in the house, well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news. To its credit, though, the display automatically disconnects when you walk away, and reconnects when you resurface. In a demo with Samsung, we noticed the display took an extra second or two to light up after we came back, but we'd hardly call its reaction time sluggish.
One last niggle: you can only access USB 2.0 devices wirelessly -- if you happen to have USB 3.0 ports on your spankin' new computer and want to access a USB 3.0 device plugged into the station, you'll have to plug a cable into that spare USB port in the back and loop it around to your laptop. Hopefully, the next generation of the technology will fully support the standard. In the meantime, the Central Station works reliably, though it's up to you to manage the inevitable mess of charging cables. Look for it at the end of this month in 23-inch ($449) and 27-inch ($599) versions with individual dongles sold separately -- you know, in case you want to share the wireless docking love with the rest of the family.
Update: A Samsung rep told us that the Central Station is PC-compatible only, with Mac drivers coming "later this year."
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 04:42 AM PDT
Plextor Announces PX-LB950UE External 12X Blu-Ray Writer
PX-LB950UE brings HD to PCs with both USB3.0 and eSATA connections
(Fremont, CA – April 27, 2011) – Plextor (www.plextor.com), a leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance digital media equipment, announces the newest addition to its Blu-ray lineup with the new PX-LB950UE external 12X Blu-ray Writer – the fastest Blu-ray writer available in the market today. This drive features the latest superspeed USB3.0 and eSATA connections, providing bandwidth for high data transfer rate.
Supplied with advanced Blu-ray and DVD playback software and recording applications, the PX-LB950UE offers a full Blu-ray HD experience. The drive is designed to provide smooth and quiet HD Blu-ray movie playback with excellent sound reproduction and a crystal clear picture quality. This drive also supports 3D playback and is able to convert 2D contents to simulate 3D effects.
"We are excited to offer a transportable all-in-one blu-ray device to consumers," said Christine Hsing, Marketing Manager at Plextor. "The PX-LB950UE lets you connect to any computer with USB or eSATA connection making access to Blu-ray technology a breeze."
In addition, the PX-LB950UE is developed with a low vibration system, eliminating most vibrations. It has a large 8MB buffer ensuring an enhanced writing accuracy at high speed. The PX-LB950UE also features a special chassis, which channels the airflow, cools the motors, improves performance and extends the lifetime of the drive.
The PX-LB950UE comes with Plextor's very own PlexUTILITIES, a comprehensive disc and drive analysis tool. This drive is also LightScribe enabled.
The 12X External Blu-ray Writer, PX-LB950UE, is available now with the suggested MSRP of $239.99.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 04:07 AM PDT
the Microsoft lawsuit filed back in March claiming that B&N's Android-based "e-reader and tablet devices" are infringing upon Microsoft's IP. A portfolio strengthened significantly thanks to that little Nokia partnership. We're not going to pick apart B&N's response in detail. However, we'd like to focus on this little nugget of FUD asserted by Barnes and Noble's legal team:
Grrrowel. But B&N does make a good point about Redmond's intentions. Microsoft has been repeating the mantra that Android is not free for awhile now. In fact, Steve Ballmer told CNN just last year that, "there's nothing free about android... there's an intellectual property royalty due on that whether [Google] happens to charge for that software or not." A tack Microsoft (and Apple) has been keen to pursue through litigation with Motorola and a licensing deal with HTC. And this is only the beginning. Android: free like a puppy. Relive Steve's immortal words in the video after the break.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 03:43 AM PDT
electric bicycles? All of that pesky pedaling. Thankfully, some of the world's top engineering minds are innovating all sorts of ways to lighten that load. Like Yamaha Motors, whose new PAS CITY-X, PAS CITY-C, and PAS Compact feature amped up batteries that can be charged twice as many times as their predecessors. You'll get somewhere from 10 to 15 miles on a charge, depending on the setting -- unfortunately not quite far enough for us to ride one back home to the States. The models will hit their native country on May 20th, at ¥106,800 ($1,299) for the CITY-X and ¥103,800 ($1,262) for the City-C and City-Compact models. Between the improved battery life and all of that artificial intelligence though, these things clearly won't have much use for us in the near future.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 03:04 AM PDT
other all-in-one desktops, but this one's got a few tricks up its sleeves -- the Acer Aspire Z5763 spits out stereoscopic 3D images to a set of NVIDIA 3D Vision specs, and uses its 2 megapixel webcam for a Kinect-like gesture recognition system that Acer's calling "AirControl." As you'll probably know if you've recently spent any time considering a 3D-ready computer, that means it's got a 23-inch, 120Hz LCD screen that displays content at 1080p, and here you'll find it accompanied by Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors, NVIDIA GeForce GT 440 or 435M graphics, a Blu-ray drive, up to 2TB of storage and 16GB of DDR3 memory, as well as built-in stereo speakers with several flavors of virtual surround sound, an optional TV tuner and loads of connectivity. What you won't find is any pricing or availability for the USA, but if you're living in merry old England you can pick up the rig next month for £999 (about $1,650).
Aspire Z5763 - the new all-in-one 3D entertainment centre from Acer
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 02:21 AM PDT
tablet. So does RIM. HP Palm too, soon enough. And Android tablets, particularly those running Honeycomb... they're everywhere -- hell, even Sony has a few on the way. That leaves Nokia as the glaring anomaly conspicuously absent from the tablet wars. Understandable, we guess, given the company's urgent need to transition its smartphone strategy to Windows Phone. That doesn't mean the company is standing still though. According to an interview with YLE television in Finland, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is taking a very calculated approach to tablets, saying, "We could take advantage of Microsoft technology and software, and build a Windows-oriented tablet, or we could do things with some of the other software assets that we have. Our team right now is assessing what's the right tablet strategy for Nokia." In other words, Nokia is investigating tablets running Windows 7 (doubtful), MeeGo (doubtful), and Windows Next, aka that tablet-friendly Windows 8 OS (likely). But here's the most illuminating exchange from the well-mannered Canadian:
Makes sense to us and echoes what we've heard about Sony's relatively delayed entry into consumer tablets. Why should Nokia build another me-too tablet when it can tap into the combined Microsoft / Nokia ecosystem and make a grab at some real market share and profit? The entire 20 minute interview is interesting as Elop discusses layoffs, the first Nokia Windows Phone, Symbian, and competing against Apple and Google. Hit the source link for the full deal -- the tablet discussion begins at 10 minutes and 32 seconds.
[Thanks, Pauli N.]
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 02:04 AM PDT
Larsen Creek SSD? It's not alone. By the end of the year, it looks like Intel expects to ship five new solid state storage series in total -- some of them even speedier than its current SSD 510 Series flagship. We managed to obtain this leaked roadmap listing the potential additions, and we're afraid to ask how much the new kings of the hill might cost -- the "Ramsdale" SSD 720 Series uses up to 400GB of SLC NAND in a PCI Express card form factor, and the "Lyndonville" SSD 710 series with a similar quantity of enterprise-grade MLC flash. There's also a direct successor to the current top-of-the-line in the "Cherryville" SSD 520 Series, which will stretch all the way up to 480GB and down to 64GB in Q4 of this year, as well as Paint Creek, which seems destined for boot drives with only 80GB and 40GB capacities to choose from. Still, the most intriguing addition might be Larsen Creek after all, which sounds like it's been purpose-built for caching data from your existing rotational storage. It's slated to come in both 2.5-inch SATA and mSATA configurations in Q3 and uses SLC NAND, which suggests it won't run cheap despite the tiny capacity here. We can't wait to find out for sure.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 01:18 AM PDT
originally scheduled for today -- at the very last minute. According to an internal email we obtained, the blame's on "unexpected delays" and no new date has yet been set. This makes sense, considering it wouldn't do Verizon much good to launch a new 4G Android when its LTE service is still down (for over 24 hours and still counting). Ah well, this 4.3-incher better be worth the wait.
Update: We're hearing reports that LTE is gradually being restored across the states, and our own Myriam Joire also sees 4G connection in San Francisco. That said, at this stage it's unlikely that the Droid Charge will resume launch today.
Update 2: Official confirmation from Verizon that all is well. If your USB modem is having issues navigating between 3G and 4G, we're told that will "continue to improve."
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 12:36 AM PDT
No matter how you slice it, 17,000 is a big number, especially when its seventeen thousand humans looking for jobs. The layoffs represent a four-percent reduction of Panasonic's 380,000 global workforce due to restructuring efforts, according to Nikkei. They are expected to begin this year and will mainly impact employees outside of Japan.
Update: Post updated to reflect the actual number of job cuts, not the 40,000 originally quoted by Nikkei or the 35,000 quoted by the AFP. The cuts will come over two years. The news comes as Panasonic reported a ¥40.7 billion ($499 million) loss for quarter, largely on account of a ¥61 billion ($748 million) restructuring cost. Panny says that its bottom line was also affected by a strong Yen, stiff competition in television sales, and the recent earthquake and tsunami.
Posted: 28 Apr 2011 12:16 AM PDT
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 11:28 PM PDT
Before Portal 2 there was Portal, and before Portal there was Super Mario Bros. Bring these together and you get a mushroom-chomping Italian plumber ruling the 2D world -- outside the cold confines of Aperture Science -- with the infamous Portal gun. The next logical step? Turn this into a first-person game. Go on, Reggie, make it happen.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 10:13 PM PDT
Motorola Xoom lets you take a far more leisurely tour of the internet's walled gardens. There's a WPA-PSK security fix to allow choice users into your mobile hotspot, SSL for secure web browsing, Google's Widevine DRM for viewing locked online video content and HDCP for piping it to your TV. Of course, there's no mention of the Xoom feature we're truly waiting for, but we'll happily take our Bluetooth mouse support and POP3 email in the meanwhile. Droid-Life reports that this HMJ07B update will start hitting Xooms later today, but Verizon's still got a month to make good on those LTE promises.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 08:59 PM PDT
Pioneer's HDJ-500T-K DJ headphones. These cans are effectively a standard re-issue of the regular HDJ-500 series, but adding a new swappable straight cord with a microphone and answer button. DJ with the (also included) extendable coiled leash, or enjoy leisure listening and hands-free calling with the straight cord. Pretty simple. Look for these in May for $145, and hit the break for the full press release.
Pioneer Adds Functionality to Latest DJ Headphones
New HDJ-500T-K Entry Level DJ Headphones Can Be Used for Hands-free Phone Calls
LONG BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.'s Professional Sound and Visual Division today introduced the HDJ-500T-K (MSRP: $145.00) multi-functional entry level DJ headphones that can be used for DJing, leisure music listening and now hands-free calling. The new HDJ-500T-K includes two interchangeable cords: a coiled cord for DJ purposes and a straight cord with an integrated microphone that enables users to answer incoming calls when connected to a smartphone.
"Consumers are always looking for accessories that can do more than just one thing. With the new HDJ-500T-K you can go from using it at a gig, to enjoying music from a smartphone, to taking a call, all with the same device. A quick push of the answer button on the straight cord enables a phone conversation, and as soon as that ends you're back to listening to music, all with high quality sound," said David Arevalo, senior marketing manager, Professional Sound and Visual Division for Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.
The HDJ-500T-K DJ headphones include two interchangeable cords: a coiled cord and a 1.2 meter straight cord with a microphone and phone answer button. The traditional 1.2 meter coiled cord (extends to 3m) is ideal for regular DJ performances, while the 1 meter straight cord is perfect for leisure listening when connected to a smartphone music device, and can also answer incoming calls with a simple touch of a button.
For maximum flexibility during performances, the HDJ-500T-K features a rotating arm structure that allows the user to rotate the right earpiece forward and back by as much as 60 degrees. At that position, the flexible headband maintains enough side pressure to allow the DJ to listen to audio on just one side of the headphones.
The Sound Difference
The HDJ-500T-K adapts the same great sound quality found in Pioneer's current HDJ-500 line of headphones. It provides clear audio reproduction, enhancing the critical low and mid frequency ranges that are essential for remixing. With a 40 mm diameter driver, thick 19 µm (micrometers) diaphragm and a copper clad aluminum wire (CCAW) voice coil, the headphone can efficiently reproduce the lower frequency audio range such as snare and kick drum sounds, which can be easily distinguished to make matching the tempo of tracks easier, even for novice DJs.
The HDJ-500T-K DJ headphones offer similar styling and performance design cues as Pioneer's top-of-the-line HDJ-2000 headphones. Designed with maximum comfort and reliability in mind, the HDJ-500T-K uses comfortable urethane pads for the ears that allow the headphones to mold around the user's head and ears for a snug and slip-resistant fit. Furthermore, the urethane pads are wrapped in high quality leather, providing greater comfort and extended wear. The main structure of the headphones is crafted with magnesium alloy for light weight and durability, making them ideal for travel and long periods of use.
The black HDJ-500T-K DJ headphones are available in May at a manufacturer suggested retail price of $145.00.
Style: Fully enclosed dynamic stereo headphones
Frequency Range: 5Hz–28,000Hz
Max Input: 2000 mW
Output Sound Level: 105 dB
Driver Unit: 40 mm dia. dome type
Plug: 3.5 mm dia. 3P mini-plug (gold-plated, screw-in)
3.5 mm dia. 3P mini-plug (gold-plated) for straight cord
Weight: 6.8 ounces (without cord)
Included Cords: 1.2 m side mount coil cord (extends to 3 m), 1 m straight cord with microphone
6.3 mm dia. 3P plug adapter (gold-plated, screw-in)
For more information follow us on:
Twitter at twitter.com/PioneerDJ
Facebook at facebook.com/PioneerDJusa
YouTube at youtube.com/pioneerdjglobal
Pioneer offers a complete line of professional DJ Equipment through its Professional Sound & Visual Division. Its DJM series of mixers has become an industry standard at clubs, studios, mobile rigs and homes around the world, known for its high quality sound and reliability. For more information, visit www.pioneerdjusa.com.
Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. is headquartered in Long Beach, Calif., and its U.S. Web address is www.pioneerelectronics.com. Its parent company, Pioneer Corporation, established in Tokyo in 1938, is a preeminent manufacturer of high-performance audio, video and computer equipment for the home, car and business markets.
Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6696203〈=en
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 07:52 PM PDT
ceiling screen in Beijing, or that record-breaking monstrosity that the Cowboys installed in Dallas -- but those single-dimension LCD's have nothing on this "5D" cube opening on Friday. Constructed from 156 Sharp 60-inch HD displays, the 5D Miracle Tour can only be found at Huis Ten Bosch, a "residential-style resort built after a medieval 17th-century Dutch town" located in Sasebo City, Japan. The unique attraction accommodates 32 guests at a time, and consists of one main front screen, surrounded by additional panels on the top, bottom, left and right. Lasting eight minutes, the tour presents the story of a mermaid named Sirena, though content will occasionally change -- given the transient nature of mermaids, of course. We've only been able to dream of the modern-day curiosities we'd encounter while visiting 17th-century Holland, but we certainly hope this magical place won't elude us the next time we're near Nagasaki.
Sharp Provides Large Multi-Screen Display System to Huis Ten Bosch Theme Park in Nagasaki, Japan
New Image Attraction Surrounds Visitors in Front, Above, Below, and on Both Sides
Sharp Corporation is providing the theme park of Huis Ten Bosch Co., Ltd. (Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan; President & CEO: Hideo Sawada) with a multi-screen display system. Comprising a large front screen surrounded by screens on the top, bottom, left, and right, the system engulfs visitors on five sides with detailed life-like images in a new kind of image space. The attraction, called the 5D Miracle Tour, will open on April 29, 2011.
This multi-screen display system has a total of 156 units of the PN-V601 60-inch LCD monitor configured in five surfaces: a front wall, ceiling and floor (36 monitors each) and left and right walls (24 monitors each). Because of the small system frame width between neighboring monitors, visitors are surrounded by huge, seamless displays from 200 to 300-plus inches wide in front, above, below, and on both sides. An image transmission system controls all of the LCD monitors to give visitors a whole new visual experience of images that are bright, detailed, and life-like.
Overview of Multi-Screen Display System at Huis Ten Bosch
Attraction name: 5D Miracle Tour (in the Thriller Fantasy Museum area)
Open to public: April 29, 2011 (Friday, Japanese public holiday)
Image content: Sirena - Mermaid Legend*
(Length: Approx. 8 minutes; original story based on a mermaid legend from Saipan)
System and technology: PN-V601 60-inch LCD monitors (156 units)
Image transmission system
*Content will change on occasion.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 06:47 PM PDT
Everything's coming up Jack Dorsey these days. Last week Apple started stocking Square's iPhone credit card readers in its 235 US retail locations, and now, according to Reuters, Visa has put its plastic where its mouth is. The credit card giant has invested in the personal payments startup, scoring itself a spot on Square's advisory board in the process. No word on how much Visa is actually dropping on the company, but one thing stands to reason: it probably didn't make the deposit via Verifone. If you would like to invest in a Square reader, it'll cost you a lot less -- the company is still offering smartphone plug-ins for free on its site.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 06:06 PM PDT
the eighth of May -- they want to announce their spiffy new Intel Z68 Express motherboards now, dang it, whatever the consequences. Well, we can't really complain, especially when said motherboards reveal brand-new Intel products in trade. The above image was pulled direct from a PDF flyer for the ASRock Z68 Extreme4 motherboard, which depicts an intriguing benchmark -- if you pair one of Intel's 20GB Larsen Creek solid state drives with a standard 1TB magnetic hard drive, Intel's SSD caching technology can allegedly give you much speedier performance. Of course, there's no such thing as a 20GB Larsen Creek drive, right? This is the part where we'd tell you that Intel may finally be democratizing solid state storage and making it an affordable upgrade to all -- except we know full well that Z68 is the company's premium Sandy Bridge-supporting chipset, so don't get your hopes up too far.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 05:22 PM PDT
PlayStation Network / Qriocity outage stretches into its second week, over on the PlayStation Blog rep Patrick Seybold has just posted an updated Q&A based on the inquiries of concerned users. Beyond the security of our personal information, the most important question is when service might be restored and he reiterates Sony expects to have "some services" up and running within a week from yesterday. When it comes to the most important personal information like credit card numbers, there are assurances that the credit card database was encrypted and there is no evidence anything was taken, but that's a possibility that still cannot be ruled out completely. To keep things secure, Gamasutra reports game developers are getting new SDKs with updated security features as well. When the service comes back up, expect a mandatory system update that requires a new password before getting back to your Mortal Kombat or Portal 2-related plans.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 05:01 PM PDT
HTC's been riding high on its smartphone success as of late, and now it looks like its ready to cruise into the automotive market. That's right, the world's third most valuable smartphone manufacturer is seeking to add a North American "automotive business development director" to its team. According to a job post that appeared on the Taiwan-based company's website, HTC is looking to hire an "experienced leader in the automotive electronics industry" to "develop business in the automotive market." Does that mean we'll be seeing an HTC-branded EV hitting the pavement stateside in the near future? We doubt it, but we suspect this could mean an uptick in HTC in-car accessories and built-in console computers this side of the pond.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 04:17 PM PDT
The wizards of MIT have done it again. Having checked artificial leaves and Operabots off the to-do list, they've moved on to improving the efficiency of solar cells. Their technique combines a genetically modified version of the M13 virus with carbon nanotubes, which have already been shown to increase efficiency. Unfortunately, some nanotubes enhance solar cell performance, while others inhibit it – and both types tend to clump together, negating their benefits. The modified M13 virus, however, can separate the two types as well as prevent clumping; we've seen similar use of the Tobacco mosaic virus to build better electrodes. Adding virus-built structures to dye-sensitized solar cells increased power conversion efficiency by almost one-third and, with only one additional step in the manufacturing process required, the new approach could be rapidly taken up by existing production facilities. MIT: proving once again that viruses are good for more than just smiting your enemies.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 03:31 PM PDT
Google Docs for Android app and we rushed on over to the Market, clicked the install button, and gave it a whirl.
Let's get this out of the way first: there are no offline editing capabilities. The actual editor is just the mobile web app embedded in a neat, little, native Android package. If you try to open an document without an internet connection you'll just get an cutesy error message. If you do have a connection (and exceedingly accurate fingers) you can open and edit your text documents and spreadsheets, but presentations are strictly read-only.
Google has provided more ways to filter and browse your docs than you could possibly need. You can pull them all up in a single list, narrow it down by collection (which once upon a time Google called "tags"), pull up your starred files, view only specific document types... the list goes on and on. And if all that scrolling and tapping doesn't catch your fancy there is an impressively fast search-as-you-type function.
We tested the app on a Xoom as well as a Droid X and, while we're happy to report it runs, it's certainly not optimized for Honeycomb. Launching the app presents you with the same single pane interface you get on the phone blown-up to tablet proportions. Instead of a list of collections on the left and files on the right you just end up with vast swaths of empty space. This is doubly frustrating when you attempt to edit a document. The tablet keyboard may be easier to type on than a phone (and easier still is a Bluetooth one) but, it makes little difference when selecting a line of text to edit or manipulating spreadsheet filters requires the fingers of a five-year-old.
The two big advantages of the native app are the homescreen widget and the ability to create a document from a photo. The widget is simple enough and lets you open the app, view your starred docs, or create new ones. One of the ways you can create a new document is by pointing your smartphone's camera at a bit of text and snapping a pic. The image is then uploaded to Google, where the Mountain View crew works some of its OCR magic that it's been perfecting under the guise of Google Goggles. The results are decidedly mixed. If you don't have steady hands don't expect much -- even slightly out of focus photos produce a doc with no text. If you can manage to score a perfectly clear image though, Docs does an admirable job of deciphering them.
If you find yourself constantly visiting the mobile Google Docs just to look up information in previously created documents and spreadsheets there is no reason not to install this app -- it's more than serviceable for reading docs. The lack of offline editing is extremely disappointing and unless you've got a tripod for your phone the OCR will prove to be rather unreliable. Still, the app is free, so what do you have to lose?
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 02:47 PM PDT
Nikon's new mid-range DSLR through its paces. Plenty of others have taken the D5100 for a spin and we thought you might like to know: they're all pretty impressed. The new 1080p30 video mode was much appreciated as was the larger, higher resolution swivel screen around back. The biggest props generally went to the improved high-ISO performance (which was already quite respectable on the D5000 it's replacing) and the boost in autofocus speed, especially when using the LCD as a view finder in Live View mode. Oddly, the built-in effects also garnered a lot of attention. The Miniature Effect (a tilt-shift simulator) and Selective Color mode impressed reviewers the most with their surprising level of sophistication for in-camera processing. All of the effects can also be used when shooting video, so you can make your HD footage look like black and white 8mm by turning on Night Vision. Criticisms were relatively minor and applicable to most mid- and entry-level DSLRs -- primarily that the body is plasticy and there is a slight lag in focus and shutter performance. The D5100 is an obvious upgrade over the D5000 and more than holds its own against its competitors, but if you want to dig deeper check out our review and the ones below.
Read - DPReview
Read - Photography Blog
Read - CNET
Read - Nikon Rumors
Read - Pocket-Lint
Read - Pocket-Lint (2)
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 01:58 PM PDT
QNX. Despite consistent rumblings that upcoming devices like the Bold Touch, and Monaco would be launching with OS 6.1, it seems that RIM has decided to re-brand the update completely as BlackBerry 7, perhaps to increase the value proposition and differentiate new devices being announced along with it. However, the site also speculates that current phones running BB6 may not get any BB7 action right off the bat -- which could make sense, given that new features like NFC are only present in upcoming devices. All this is naturally unconfirmed, but if this is indeed yet another version of the BlackBerry OS, well, that certainly won't help the platform get any more developer love.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 01:34 PM PDT
Yeah, we know, 3G data is so last year. If you've already made the jump to LTE and are totally bummed about today's outage, know that there's a fix coming. We have an official statement from Jeffrey Nelson from VZW Corporate Communications, who indicates that the company has "determined the cause of our issue" and is "working with our major vendors to restore connections." We're guessing that doesn't actually mean plugging something back in, but maybe it does. The full statement is after the break, but what you won't find is an ETA on when things will be live again.
We are aware of an issue with 4G LTE data connections and our network engineers are working to resolve this quickly. We have determined the cause of our issue and are working with our major vendors to restore connections.
* 4G LTE Smartphones will still be able to make calls.
* Customers are temporarily unable to activate any 4G LTE devices.
* Please note: Customers may experience a 1XRTT data connection during this time.
* After determining the cause of our 4G LTE network connection issue, we are continuing to work to restore connections.
* We expect to see the network restore on a market-by-market basis. Timing and additional details will be provided as they become available.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 01:02 PM PDT
Notion Ink Adam is a tale like many we could name -- it's the story of a tiny company struggling to bring a vision to market, facing friction from investors, factories and the march of time itself. The difference is that the Adam captured the imaginations of gadget fiends like ourselves with ideas that were fantastic from day one and are still novel now that it's finally been released, including a paneled UI, full USB host functionality, and of course that Pixel Qi screen. But does the Adam deliver on the promises of unifying form and function with such technology? In two words: Not really.
At first blush, the Adam's actually a pretty handsome tablet, and it sports a unique design -- whereas most every recent slate is a variation on the original iPad formula, Notion Ink endowed its offspring with a sizable rump that serves a variety of functions. It holds a pair of stereo speakers, one at either end, with the unit's three-cell battery sandwiched in between; it serves as an axis around which the swiveling camera rotates; and it makes for a fantastic grip. At 1.6 pounds -- the same as the Motorola Xoom -- the Adam isn't quite light enough to prop up with a single hand when lying in bed, but the handle helps quite a bit, and a rubber mesh coating ensured that even when our arms got tired, we never dropped the slate accidentally. The black plastic construction doesn't scream style, but we quite liked that it was matte, keeping us from constantly soiling surfaces with our fingerprints.
While we're comparing with the Xoom, it's probably worth mentioning that even though the Adam actually has a slightly smaller 10-inch screen, the rest of the unit completely dwarfs Motorola's slate and most other tablets we've seen. It's not that the Adam is fat -- handle aside, its 14 millimeter girth is comparable to all but the latest batch of skin-and-bones rigs -- but rather that it's got a gigantic bezel surrounding the screen that no amount of photoshopping can hide.
The upper-left-hand corner of the bezel is where you'll find the Adam's four capacitive touch buttons, which are a disappointment in and of themselves. They're not backlit, provide no vibrating feedback, and are in a position where it's easy to brush them with stray gestures. We aren't completely sold on Google's virtual buttons in Honeycomb, which are always positioned at the bottom left corner of the screen, but at least we can use them in the dark and live without fear of exiting apps and canceling commands accidentally.
Underneath that bezel, however, there's something fantastic going on -- rival manufacturers take note -- enough full-sized ports crammed into that creamy white band to make the tablet into a potential laptop alternative. There's a lot of fuss about connecting tablets to keyboards and televisions as of late, but the Adam doesn't need a proprietary keyboard, cables or docks because it's got two full-sized USB ports and a full-sized HDMI slot. It detects USB peripherals automatically and seamlessly, as we discovered when we plugged in our wireless Logitech mouse and keyboard using their Nano receivers and had both work like a charm, and the Adam can do full 1080p display mirroring over that HDMI port. Unfortunately, the HDMI connection doesn't pass audio signals and may not line up the mouse cursor with the television properly (unless you've got a 1:1 pixel mapping option) so it's not quite the leanback experience we'd hoped, but we were definitely able to draft some business emails and browse the web without ever touching the screen.
Display / touchscreen
And considering how many issues we had with that 10-inch, 1024 x 600 screen, it's probably just as well. Since the very first time we caught wind of the Notion Ink Adam on one cold December morn, its claim to fame was this -- it would be the first mass-market device to ship with a Pixel Qi screen, and a matte one at that. We've never been shy about professing our love for fingerprint- and glare-resistant surfaces, and we've long been fans of Pixel Qi's 3Qi display, a special dual-mode LCD which allows you to switch off the backlight and use the sun's rays to illuminate your images instead -- and we were particularly impressed to find that Notion Ink would be using Pixel Qi's wider viewing angle displays.
We're sorry to say that two of these promises simply weren't fulfilled. Not only do you have to affix an (included) screen protector to achieve the matte effect, but the Adam's viewing angles are terrible. Approach it from any angle but head-on and either the whites or blacks wash out, and if you tilt it to the left everything begins to turn a sickly yellow. The colors are also a bit washed out, and if you're a fan of deep, inky blacks you'd best look somewhere else, as the best the Adam can do is a shade of noisy purple. Moreover, the matte screen protector is fairly thick and we suspect it may be to blame for making the tablet's capacitive digitizer less effective than it should be, as it often felt like we had to press with a little bit of effort to get the Adam to respond to our touch. All that said, the Pixel Qi's reflective mode most certainly does work, and it does its job well, saving hours of additional battery life and making the screen quite viewable outdoors. The question is whether that's worth all the other tradeoffs.
Technically, the Adam runs a build of Android 2.2 (that's Froyo to you dessert lovers) but you'd be hard-pressed to determine that, as Notion Ink's skinned the entire thing with a user interface it calls Eden. The Eden UI is actually composed of a number of innovative concepts, like the Panel View you can see in the picture above, which eschews the standard icon-filled homescreen in favor of a series of miniaturized apps that you can scroll through. The effect is like having multiple Android phone apps open at the same time and on the same screen, putting a mobile browser, calendar, email and the like at your fingertips -- as well as controls for the Android media player and shortcuts to the last eight apps you've used. You open apps by activating a red ribbon which stretches horizontally across the screen, and you can narrow down choices quickly by tapping the first letter or two of the name you're looking for into the virtual keyboard -- which isn't bad, by the way, with fun typewriter clacks when you click and a set of dedicated arrow keys. If you'd rather see all your apps at once, there's also a standard homescreen where they're all stored, which you can access by tapping the clock.
Drag and drop an app from the ribbon onto the desktop and the Adam will attempt to open it in Panel View. Sadly, you can't just turn any app you want into a Panel, only the ones that Notion Ink specifically includes, and as of today those are precious few -- not to mention that those that come with the Adam are buggy and frustrating as a general rule. The interface is also slow to scroll, often unresponsive, and not every part responds the same way to Android's hardware buttons. We also had some very odd issues when the tablet went to sleep -- sometimes, it refused to wake up without rebooting, and once it spontaneously reset the internal clock to January 1st, 2009. Oh, and on occasion when the UI was acting unresponsive, the entire tablet would crash to a black screen and reboot spontaneously. Not good.
Let's take a few of Notion Ink's bundled apps for a spin, shall we?
Browser: Notion Ink's tabbed Webkit browser looks and feels great at first, and loads pages fast -- full desktop webpages, mind you, not the mobile versions that Motorola's Xoom defaults to. It sports snappy inertial scrolling, has a host of shortcuts for bookmarks, text selection and screengrabs, and there's a nifty virtual thumbwheel that lets you add, kill, and swap between tabs. Assuming you have the APK handy, it'll even do Flash. Unfortunately, it's alo not quite stable enough for us to trust it with critical browsing sessions -- a number of times we returned to the browser, and found it had forgotten all our tabs, and on occasion we encountered an outright crash. What's more, there's actually a foolproof way to ensure it crashes: just click on that fancy tab wheel a few times in a row, and you'll be greeted with the Force Close dance. The panel view is rather disappointing, too, as though it does keep a simple list of the full browser's active tabs, you can't actually view any of them in the miniature.
Mail'd: There's no Gmail here, but Notion Ink provides an alternative -- Mail'd, an IMAP / POP3 client (reportedly based on the popular K-9 Mail for Android) that can automatically set up an IMAP version of Gmail with just your email address and password -- though we had quite a bit of trouble getting the setup screen to recognize user input. It's got a fairly useful two-panel tablet layout for browsing and reading email, and a full-screen view as well, but in most every way it's a far cry from Google's Honeycomb Gmail client. Again, the Panel view doesn't automatically sync with what you're doing in the full app, and doesn't automatically update the miniature inbox it provides.
Sniffer: A quick, attractive and intuitive three-panel file manager, Sniffer lets you browse the contents of the Adam's internal storage, microSD card and any attached USB drives, and copy, move, delete, rename, preview, play and search for files. There's also a basic task manager included, and the Panel View is fairly nice, giving access to the full functionality one panel at a time, though once again, it won't keep track of where you were in the fullscreen version.
Calendar: An attractive full-screen or single Panel calendar
Canvas: This one's a fairly interesting -- if pretty basic -- fullscreen painting and photo editing app, which lets you composite three layers at a time, with a full color picker for four custom hues and control over opacity and brush size. There's also eraser, bucket and text tools and a variety of photo filters and tweaks you can access by dropping into edit mode.
Performance / battery life
So that's just what we did -- we grabbed the Amazon Appstore, SlideME and a batch of APKs from our handy Froyo phone and put them to work on the Adam. That dual-core 1GHz Tegra 250 actually makes for a fairly potent device, as we discovered in a number of tests, with the Adam scoring between 1,700 and 2,100 in Quadrant, calculating 37 MFLOPS in Linpack, achieving 42.6fps in Nenamark, and speedily playing a variety of Android games, whenever the Adam decided it was in a good mood and let them run without crashing. We also sideloaded Flash 10.2 onto the Adam, and it runs in the browser fairly well, though individual videos felt like they took a tad longer to load. Interestingly enough, the Adam's sensor package performed far more quickly than many other tablets we've used, getting us a super-speedy GPS lock in maps, and nigh-instantly rotating the screen when we shifted the Adam's orientation. We're not big fans of the stereo speakers, however. Two are certainly better than one, and their audio is mildly clear, but they have so little bass that the only thing they'll rattle is the confidence in your purchase.
We mentioned earlier that the Pixel Qi screen extends the Adam's battery life, but it's still not as good as we were led to believe: if you were hoping for the minimum 15 hours battery life that Notion Ink promised, you'll have to look elsewhere.
We did manage to make it through a full 24-hour day with very mild use and found it just about ready to die when we woke up the next morn, but in our standard battery rundown test (which loops the same video, with WiFi turned on, and the screen at roughly 65 percent brightness) the Adam managed only 8 hours, 38 minutes with the backlight off. Using the Pixel Qi's full color LCD, we managed only 5 hours, 52 minutes before that 24Wh battery died. Mind you, that's comparable to the original Galaxy Tab, but decidedly weak for a 10-incher.
The 3.2 megapixel camera attached to the Adam has one neat trick -- it swivels to swap between front- and rear-facing orientations, and it automatically flips the image when it detects which way is up. However, it also smacks of being very, very cheap, both in terms of the noisy, overexposed images it produces and the general flimsy build quality. There's also the little matter of an exceptionally annoying autofocus issue. When you launch the camera, it will attempt to autofocus several times in a row (with absolutely no prompting from you) and if you try to take a photo without waiting for it to finish, you'll add a hefty layer of blur on top of the noise and extraneous light. Not a delicious sandwich, we assure you.
Notion Ink truly did come up with a number of fantastic ideas for the Adam tablet. They do show. But so little of their light shines through the muck of buggy software and touchy hardware that we're afraid even the best of them will be completely dismissed and ignored. If Notion Ink had delivered on its promises of a miniature touchscreen office where full Android apps run side by side in perfect harmony and multitask with ease, we'd award it high marks -- all current tablets claim to enable productivity, but most settle to be simple entertainment consoles. Even Google's Honeycomb OS still struggles to find a way to unify the worlds of tablet and phone, and Notion Ink's prototype shows a way it could be done.
Features like USB host functionality, a desktop-class web browser, a sunlight-readable screen and a multitask-friendly interface aren't just value-add bullet points that justify a higher price -- they're the difference between a tablet that can augment an existing computer, and one that can replace it altogether and thrust users into a new paradigm. We're sad to see the Adam couldn't make it happen, but there's still an opportunity for other manufacturers to take up the torch.
Update: According to Notion Ink the Calendar app can sync, but you need to manually add your account information in to make it happen. We're working on verifying this.
Myriam Joire contributed to this review.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 12:40 PM PDT
Optimus 2X that launched earlier in the year, though a couple of items have also been borrowed from the still unreleased Optimus Black. They are the NOVA display, which can crank all the way up to 700 nits of brightness, and WiFi Direct, which allows for wireless inter-device communication without the need for an intermediary WiFi access point. This big, delicious spec sandwich is hitting its home market on April 28th, but there's sadly no word on when and where else it might show up. Just keep an eye out for it, shouldn't be that hard to spot.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 12:20 PM PDT
Rogers has announced it's lighting up 150Mbps LTE in four Canadian cities this year. Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are setting the stage for an additional 21 market rollout in 2012. Sure, that theoretical 150Mbps -- with an announced upstream of 70Mbps -- may shift a whole lot when this all gets real, but seriously, compared to HSPA+ those speeds are astounding. Canadians eager to get a bit more info can take a peek at Roger's new LTE site (link below) and cast a vote for your hometown to be part of the 2012 expansion. Rogers hasn't mentioned a date just yet -- or if they plan on all four areas going live at once -- but you can be sure that we'll be keeping close tabs on all the details and grabbing some hands-on experiences with launch devices as soon as we can.
Posted: 27 Apr 2011 12:02 PM PDT
video on-demand library, making it the only provider that offers shows from all four broadcast networks (including NBC and CBS) as soon as the day after they air. There's a list of all the TV shows Comcast will be offering in the press release after the break -- no Modern Family or House? weak -- so the next time you forget to DVR Cops, you're covered. Also, now that DirecTV has broken the seal on premium VOD early release movies, Comcast also mentioned it is still in negotiations to provide similar access to flicks. With no specifics to announce it's possible the pricing or windows could differ from what we've seen so far, so we'll just advise Senior Vice President and General Manager of Comcast Video Services Marcien Jenkes to take a long look at our poll results before signing anything.
COMCAST FIRST TO OFFER CURRENT TOP-RATED TV SERIES
FROM ALL FOUR MAJOR BROADCAST NETWORKS ON DEMAND
Adds TV Series from ABC and FOX including Most Recent Episodes from Hits Like Glee and Grey's Anatomy – Nearly Doubles Xfinity TV On Demand TV Line-Up from Major Broadcast Networks
PHILADELPHIA, PA – April 27, 2011 – Comcast, one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services, announced today it is adding top-rated TV series from ABC and FOX to its On Demand service, making Comcast the only pay TV provider to offer current TV series from all four major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC – On Demand. This expansion of TV series, among others, nearly doubles the amount of hit TV series now available from the major broadcast networks, and brings customers the most TV episodes in high-definition On Demand.
"Our goal is to deliver customers the best and most-current entertainment choices anytime, anywhere so they can catch up and keep up with their favorite TV shows," said Marcien Jenckes, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Video Services for Comcast. "By nearly doubling the number of current TV series from broadcast networks, Xfinity TV On Demand offers our customers a one-of-a-kind experience that can't be found elsewhere."
Starting on Thursday, April 28, more than 20 popular TV series from ABC and FOX will begin to roll out On Demand the day after the TV series' live broadcast and will be fast forward disabled. These series join top-rated shows from CBS and NBC including NCIS, Hawaii Five-0, The Office and 30 Rock, available to customers whenever they want to watch new or recent episodes. Each of the major broadcast networks will offer the four most recent episodes from the following TV series On Demand:
ABC TV Series
· Body of Proof
· Cougar Town
· Desperate Housewives
· Grey's Anatomy
· Private Practice
FOX TV Series
· American Dad
· America's Most Wanted
· Bob's Burgers
· Breaking In
· The Chicago Code
· The Cleveland Show
· Family Guy
· Hell's Kitchen (available 7/19)
· Kitchen Nightmares
· Masterchef (available 6/7)
· Raising Hope
· The Simpsons
· Traffic Light
CBS TV Series
· Blue Bloods
· CSI: Miami
· CSI: NY
· Hawaii Five-0
· Mad Love
· NCIS: Los Angeles
· Rules of Engagement
· Survivor: Redemption Island
· The Good Wife
· Two and a Half Men
· Undercover Boss
NBC TV Series
· 30 Rock
· America's Got Talent (available 6/1)
· America's Next Great Restaurant
· Celebrity Apprentice
· Friday Night Lights
· Harry's Law
· Law & Order: Los Angeles
· Love In The Wild (available 6/2)
· Minute to Win It
· Parks and Recreation
· Perfect Couples
· Saturday Night Live
· The Biggest Loser
· The Event
· The Marriage Ref (available 6/27)
· The Office
· The Voice
· Who Do You Think You Are?
These TV series join Comcast's extensive line-up of approximately 600 TV series On Demand from broadcast networks, popular cable networks such as AMC, Bravo, E!, FX, MTV, National Geographic Channel, Nickelodeon, TBS, TNT, Telemundo and USA as well as premium providers such as HBO, Showtime, Starz and Cinemax. Additionally, Comcast offers hit movies, music and kids programming and more On Demand. Comcast On Demand, which recently passed 19 billion views, is now averaging 350 million views per month. In addition, Comcast continues to offer customers more than 60,000 TV and movie entertainment choices across On Demand, online at XfinityTV.com and on the iPad through the Xfinity TV app.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is one of the nation's leading providers of entertainment, information and communications products and services. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.
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