Archive for October, 2009

Cheap and Powerful – Acer neoTouch F1

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Acer neoTouch F1Smartphones couldn’t be more powerful these days. Thanks to Qualcomm’s QSD 8250 Snapdragon processor clocked at 1Ghz, the UK mobile community can now get its hands on the quick and snappy Acer neoTouch F1 from O2 free with just a ₤25 monthly contract.  Acer just recently had the handset officially released with a quick distribution in the UK markets thanks to O2.

Sharing much of its sleek fluid body contours with the recently launched Acer Liquid A1, the new F1 comes in a sexy black body that is sure to appeal to the trendy crowd.  Affordability is its main edge over rival PDA-type smartphones on a monoblock touchscreen form.  Its reason for being is really quite simple and straight to the point – to bring high end smartphone use with near PC desktop look and feel to the masses.  Using what is considered the most powerful engine for mobile phones on the planet, the neoTouch F1 has its promise fully covered.

A Few Compromises

It’s clear who Acer’s direct rival here is. It’s the upcoming Snapdragon-based HTC HD2.  But that may be so only in the features department, as both hardware specifications offer pretty much the same thing.  Of course you won’t get the remarkable HTC proprietary HTC TouchFLO and HTC Sense user interface.  But the neoTouchF1 does not have the hefty HTC price tag.  You can call the neoTouch as the poor man’s HTC.  Acer seems to have done its marketing homework right with a sure winner in its hands.

With the same Wide-VGA (480 x 800 pixels) resolutions as that of the HTC HD2 on a smaller 3.8 inch touchscreen display that is resistive instead of being capacitive as in the HD2’s 4.3 inch display, the neoTouch F1 clearly defines a lesser specification.  As a resistive touchscreen, the display needs a stylus which it comes with.  Both share the same Windows limitation of 65k color depth.  For a market with a clear focus on value for the money, resistive or capacitive can often be a just a paper difference.

The neoTouch F1 sports a lower internal memory, just 256 MB RAM, about half of what the HD2 has, though both share the same 512 MB ROM specification.   Again, very few users really use internal RAM for most of their apps and files, relying more on the microSD expansion slot which the neoTouch carries like any smartphones these days.

Other than these toned-down features, the two rivals share the same technical specifications like quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and UMTS 3G support with HSDAP/HSUPA data connectivity for speedy internet access.   There’s WiFi 802.11 b/g for wireless internet access in hotspots as well as Bluetooth 2 with EDR for high speed wireless local data transfers.  Imaging gets done with a similar 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and LED flash. There’s geo-tagging to reference the shots you take based on GPS-assisted location. Both do the same high quality VGA recording.  FM radio, GPS and USB ports are in both. Battery life is fairly typical in both specimens.

So what’s the Advantage over its Rivals

As a resistive touchscreen, the stylus should make it easy to use Chinese characters on its handwriting recognition feature.  We can put weight as an advantage and a more elegantly styled body design and finish that for many, looks a lot more trendy and pocketable than the huge HD2.  But what really sets the Acer neoTouch F1 apart is its value as high end smartphone without the high end price tag. Finally, the market can enjoy a premium phone at a fraction of the price of competing upscale smartphones.


Acer neoTouch F1 Links:

A Slimmer but Better Second Generation Blackberry Bold 9700

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Blackberry Bold 9700Blackberry is releasing a number of second generation handsets that have leaked online earlier. One of these is the BlackBerry Bold 9700 which also gets known as the Bold 2 or Onyx.

After months of speculation on the Blackberry Onyx codename, the new handset is finally appearing in markets even ahead of any official announcement from its maker Research In Motion.  T-Mobile has the new handset in the US  ready for market release next month and has been priced at $599 SIM-free.

Extreme Makeover

While similar to many Blackberry smartphones earlier released like the Tour 9630 at first glance, then you just might think it’s closer to the Curve 8900 for its smaller size and shape. The problem is that just one about every Blackberry in the QWERTY candybar form look like one another unless inspected up close.

But as a second generation Blackberry handset, the Bold 9700 takes off from its siblings to make up for what they each lack.  Like having WiFi where the Tour 9630 is wanting, 3G where the Curve 8900 hasn’t one and the first generation Bold with a mediocre camera.  It’s as if RIM just poured onto the Blackberry Bold 9700 all the best features of each and put in the missing ones.  The new handset is that good.

New Features

For a time, the online mobile community is speculating on the UMA WiFi capability of the Onyx.  It turns out that T-mobile is going to bring that feature to its customers on its HotSpot@Home service where they can get visual voicemail and WiFi voice calls. T-Mobile has also confirmed that its first 3G BlackBerry phone will enjoy the TeleNav GPS Navigator bundled with the Amazon MP3 store access bundled.

Competitive Smartphone Features

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 or Onyx sports a smaller and thinner body than its previous siblings giving a better snug feel in your hands.  RIM has yet to make official the release of the Onyx and detailed specifications have yet to be released. Unless debunked by RIM, the specifications being circulated on the net have the following characteristics we look forward to when the new Blackberry handset becomes widely available next month.

  • The BlackBerry Bold is a quad-band 2G GSM/GPRS/EDGE and a 3G/UMTS with HSDPA and HSUPA support for an assured high speed surfing and downloading on the internet. It has high speed wireless data connectivity support from WiFi 802.11 b/g.
  • The handset comes in gun metal metallic grey with full QWERTY keyboard with a leather-slapped battery cover at the back. It has a newly engineered touch sensitive trackpad found on the Curve 8520 instead of the trackball on many of Blackberry’s other models.
  • The processor used in the handset has been speculated on to be a Texas Instrument Tavor running at more than 624 MHz.  It runs Blackberry’s proprietary OS 5.0 platform.  You also get GPS and Bluetooth 2.0 though it’s not certain whether there’s A2DP support for wireless stereo headsets.
  • It’s a common knowledge that corporate users prefer Blackberry handsets and are thus designed with the mobile executive in mind.  But that hasn’t deterred RIM from getting popular hardware features onto the handset, like a decent 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera and LED Flash that looks superior to anything Blackberry had in the past.

There’s 256 MB of internal memory that can get up to 16 Gb via a microSD expansion slot. You need to remove the battery cover to insert the card.  The handset is powered with a 1550mAh M-S1 battery that was used in the first generation Bold handset and should give the new one about the same talk time and standby times.



Blackberry Bold 9700 Links:

The Future of Mobile Phones Arrive on the back of the Acer Liquid

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Acer Liquid

Acer launches the world’s first WVGA smartphone using the latest Android 1.6 Operating System (also known as Donut) from Google – the Acer Liquid A1.  It is also the world’s first Android smartphone powered by the Qualcomm 8250 Snapdragon processor clocked at 768 MHz.  Acer pushes the mobile handset to a higher level of sophistication that combines state-of-the-art mobility with a remarkably fashion-centric ergonomically designed high-end gadget without the high end price.  Without counting the Sony Ericsson Xperia 3 yet to be release, the announcement made just a few days back makes the Liquid A1 the most powerful handset on the planet.

High End Features

Thus far, the powerful Snapdragon has been seen only on the TG01 from Toshiba and on the soon to be released HTC HD2 – both running the Window Mobile platform. While HTC is said to be working on an Android phone code named Dragon using the same engine that remains under wraps and won’t be in the market until sometime next year.  This gives the Acer Liquid A1 the claim to be the world’s first Android Snapdragon phone.

Technical details are only now surfacing but remain less than complete. From the leaks we’ve seen so far, the hardware features are typical of flagship handsets.

  • It is basically a quad band GSM/GPRS/Edge handset and a triband UMTS/3G support for high speed HSDPA/HSUPA data connectivity.   Internet surfing and downloading is a breeze and with WiFi 802.11 b/g and Bluetooth with EDR, you get high speed local data transfers.
  • It sports a fluid sleek design around a monoblock touchscreen form measuring 115 x 62.5 x 12.5 mm weighing 135 grams which while similar with most other touchscreen phones, it exudes a high fashion charm that defines the mobile handset for the 21st century crowd. It has a 3.5” TFT LCD capacitive touchscreen display with 256k color depth on a Wide-VGA resolution (800 x 480 pixels) dominating the façade. It has an ambient light sensor for automatically adjusting the display brightness, accelerometer for automatic viewing orientation according to the tilt of the handset and the usual proximity sensor to disable the touchscreen when held to you ears in a call.
  • Imaging starts with a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash and geo tagging.  It also supports a mere QVGA video recording — about the only mediocre feature on a handset when all the other flagship mobile phones already support VGA video recording. A complete multimedia experience is supported with the usual media players that can play the popular audio and video content formats and Bluetooth 2 with A2DP for wireless stereo headsets, a stereo FM radio and 3.5mm headphone sockets for using your preferred high fidelity headphones.
  • Internal memory comes from a 256 MB of RAM and 512 MB of ROM with microSDHC support for up to 32 GB of external memory. Its 1350 mAh battery limits you to just 5 hours of talk time and 400 hours or 14 days of standby time, which is below industry averages.

Stand-out Promise

While much of the features are typical for a flagship handset, the promise of the Acer Liquid A1 entirely rests on the use of a powerful engine and an open operating systems that many tech savvy pundits claim to hold the future for a most engaging mobile phone experience.

The fast engine allows the Liquid to support a more compute-intensive 3D graphics, lending the mobile experience a new level of visual richness and realism never before seen.  Its open architecture lends itself nicely to forthcoming phone apps that promise to add more functionality and versatility to the handset.  But all in good time.  Announced only a few days back, expect the new Acer smartphone to be available in time for the Christmas holidays.


Acer Liquid Links:

UK iPhone Fans to Get Apple iPhone 3GS on Orange Networks

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Apple iPhone OrangeO2 losing its exclusivity deal with Apple’s iPhone has been known for sometime now.  Orange announced a while back that it is taking over, though not with the same exclusivity deal.  That’s not entirely surprising since Orange enjoys marketing rights to the iPhone in about 28 countries worldwide.  In the UK, Orange has the most extensively used 3G network with more subscribers on it than on any other operator’s 3G.  The iPhone 3GS on Orange UK seems like a perfect match at this time.

A New Deal with Apple

Telefonica O2’s 2-year exclusive deal with Apple ends this month.  It is worth noting that during that time, O2 sold more than 1.7 million iPhones in the UK to make the Telefonica-owned carrier the number one network operator in the land.  The deal likewise gave its retailer Carphone Warehouse enough marketing clout that sealed it as Europe’s biggest independent retailer of mobile phones.  Under the new deal with Orange, Carphone Warehouse will continue to stock up on iPhones for the UK market to meet the holiday shopping peak.

The new deal with France Telecoms-owned Orange is less onerous as it does away with exclusivity and the requirement for Orange to share the network’s iPhone revenues to Apple. This basically opens other network providers to carry the iPhone 3G and 3GS.  Vodafone is one but not before the end of the year.

Non-exclusivity has won in many parts of Europe after France and Germany got the courts to their market sides against Apple’s monopolistic overtures.  Opening the iPhone marketing to more carriers has been more auspicious and beneficial to Apple than it may have assumed.

While Apple had initially wanted a tighter control and tracking of its inventory with fewer carriers, it gets more revenues in countries where there have been no exclusivity deals.  In addition, the timing may have dissuaded Apple to pursue revenue sharing as the income it gets from its online iTunes App store from iPhone purchases of application exceeds any revenue streams from its exclusivity deals.  With more iPhone sales from non exclusive contracts, the more income it gets from the iTunes App store.

The iPhone 3G on Orange clearly benefits UK markets.  Apart from dispensing with revenue sharing with Apple, competition with another carrier like Vodafone is expected to further lower the subscription tariffs on the iPhone.  A price off might even be in the offing.

The Most Powerful iPhone now in the UK.

The new Orange dispensation comes just as the iPhone is consolidating its lead in the smartphone markets as the most successful mobile phone ever.  The third generation iPhone 3GS is sure to cement this lead with features that make it twice more powerful than its predecessors. With a more powerful CPU and putting in better features where it was wanting or lacking in earlier models has put the first mobile phone from the California-based computer niche player in a position other mobile makers can only aspire to reach.

Availability

Orange is expected to sell the iPhone 3GS on the starting October 16 making the handset available from Orange shops nationwide, its online webshop, Orange telesales as well as select street partners.  There’s still no tariff information but just check out the Orange site at www.Orange.co.uk/iPhone for more updates.



Apple iPhone 3G S Links:

Symbian Horizon App Store Arrives

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Symbian Horizon App StoreThe Symbian Foundation has finally seen to it that the Symbian operating system gets its own official mobile application store, which has already got 50 apps in its library to get the ball rolling.

The announcement was made that Symbian Exchange and Exhibition (or “SEE”) this year and Horizon, as the new app store is named, opened for business yesterday, when Symbian users could get a first glimpse of what is in store for them, so to speak.

Even though 50 is only a small number, especially when compared to Apple‘s 100,000 applications, the amount of people who have mobile phones running under the Symbian operating system means we will likely see some substantial growth in the apps on offer over the coming months. The Symbian Foundation clearly expects great things, with a spokesperson stating earlier; “The publishing programme is being scaled up to process thousands of applications in 2010″.

Of course there are some carriers and mobile phone makers that use the Symbian operating system who have already started their own mobile marketplaces; however as Horizon will be fully compatible with all handset models, and can add its own content into the already established app stores, it does offer some new benefits to users in the UK who are currently using the Ovi Store, the Sony Ericsson PlayNow portal and of course the Samsung Application Store.

For those of you who are interested in experiencing what the BETA store has to offer, you can visit the Symbian Horizon website for a closer look.

Even with only 50 apps currently on offer, some of them look pretty appealing; plus 8 of the applications are free – so there is no harm in having a play.

HTC HD2 Has UK Price

Friday, October 30th, 2009

HTC HD2A website selling mobile phones in the United Kingdom has just listed the pre order prices for the highly anticipated HTC HD2, which is the newest handset from the company to run under the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system.

The new mobile phone’s tariffs with carrier O2 have just been put up on the mobiles.co.uk website, despite the fact that the network’s own website is still lacking any details or pre order options itself. We’re sorry to say that the HTC HD2 is not going to be the most affordable phone to reach the mobile market this month.

If you are looking to get your hands on the new device it is going to set you back £40 per month, at least if you want to get the handset for free; although according to the website this deal does come with a special bonus – you can choose to score a free Sony DAB Radio, or alternatively get a £90 cash back; something that does make the £40 per month sting just that little bit less.

As it runs under the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system, the HTC HD2 does have several features that new users who are upgrading from Windows Mobile 6.1 will enjoy.

All in all the mobile phone is expensive, but we think it is worth it, especially as it boasts a very impressive 1 GHz processor, HSPDA, a 5 mega pixel camera and the most popular feature currently available on any smartphone, Wi Fi connectivity. Although Windows Mobile 6.5 is not the greatest mobile OS out there it still has a lot to offer users, and is well worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Is The Moto Droid Coming To The UK?

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Motorola DEXTMobile phone manufacturer Motorola recently announced its latest handset to run under the Android operating system, the Moto Droid, over in America – however questions have been raised regarding whether or not it will be coming to the United Kingdom.

The new handset is different to the previous offerings we’ve seen from the company, especially as it loses the MotoBlur user interface in favour of becoming a “Google Experience” device.

On board you will find 16 GB of internal storage, a 5 mega pixel camera sporting dual LED flash, a 3.7 inch display which supports wide screen, as well as a full QWERTY keyboard, which seems to have improved since the Motorola DEXT, although we aren’t totally sure if it needed it.

When asked about whether or not the Moto Droid can be expected in the United Kingdom, Motorola is quoted as stating; “We’ve not yet announced availability of this device in other markets, but look forward to continuing to expand our Android based portfolio around the world.”

I think that it needs to be said that as the company is working to improve its image and following after the past disastrous decade in which several “failure phones” were brought out, that Motorola will not be doing itself any favours if it now decides to snub the UK on such a highly awaited model.

There has been some talk that the reason the device might not appear here, or alternatively could take a long time to show up, is that much like the Palm Pre it could need to be modified for the UK.

If it needs modifying then so be it; but if it takes any longer than the months the Palm Pre put between us and the UK the buzz surrounding the device will have quietened down, and the company will have missed out on a significant number of sales and potential new customers; something they sorely need.

Slide-Out Keypad makes a Comeback: Acer beTouch E200

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Acer beTouch E200Slide out the back portion of the Acer beTouch E200 and you will find a physical keypad. With the recent trend of 3G smart phones towards faster processors, larger high definition screens and the larger memory capacities, the need for decent low-spec 3G devices has been left unattended to. The beTouch E200 takes a traditional mobile phone concept and gives it 3G technology. Combined with an excellent external design, the Windows Mobile 6.5.1 operating system and media playback capabilities give you the makings of pretty useful smart phone.

The Acer betouch series will be coming out a three mobile phones; along with the neoTouch mobile phone, these four devices is Acer’s Windows Mobile 6.5 lineup. The Acer neoTouch is the hardware intensive device previously announced as the F1. The other two beTouch mobile phones are the E100 and E101, which are a 3G and 2G version of the same device and they target the general market along with the beTouch E200. What the E200 does better that the E100 series is that the E200 looks better and has a more sensible design as compared to the resistive touch screen exclusive design of the other two. With the physical keypad, the E200 offers greater versatility and function.

The E200 Keypad

The beTouch E200 has a pretty normal keypad. Nothing you have not seen before in a mobile phone; number keys, a pound and a hash key. What makes the keypad so notable is they way it has been physically designed to fit with the over all design of the E200. The lines between the keys create a sense of uniformity in the mobile phone design while the black matte finish all offer unifies the visual aspect of the entire device. Ergonomically, the keys are evenly spaced and the slight arc makes all the buttons easier to reach even with just one hand. The control pad and two shortcut buttons on the face of the phone is designed in the same pattern as the keypad.

The beTouch E200 Spec Sheet

Acer has loaded the beTouch E200 with a 3.0 inch TFT screen capable of displaying resolutions of up to 240 x 400 pixels. At exactly three inches, the screen is only slightly smaller than other 3G phones allowing the device to afford a smaller overall width. Still, it is large enough for playing back videos and browsing websites. Browsing will be done through GPRS, 3G HSDPA or EDGE networks. The device supports both 2G and 3G network bands and is powered by a Qualcomm MSM 7225 528 MHz processor.

As stated, the operating system for this device is the Windows Mobile Professional 6.5. This gives the user access to all the Windows Mobile applications such as Outlook Mobile and Pocket Office. Media Player Mobile will allow the user to play back video and music file formats such as MP3, MP4 and more. There is no 3.5mm audio jack, but the device is Bluetooth ready so you can use your favorite Bluetooth headset. It has a 3.15 mega pixel camera that can take images of up to 2048 x 1536 pixels. No word yet on auto focus or LED flash, but we are hoping they put the features in to make taking photos a lot easier.

Other Features

The internal memory is 256MB of RAM and 512MB of ROM, this balance of space for applications and files is more than sufficient unless you intend to store a lot of media. Sadly, the lack of a microSD card slot will force you to connect via mini USB just to transfer files. The battery drains pretty fast, while it promises to have 400 hours of standby time, the five hour continuous talk time sounds a little too short for an 1140 mAh lithium ion battery. The device also has GPS capabilities as well.


Acer beTouch E200 Links:

Vodafone 360 M1, the Practical LiMo Phone

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Vodafone 360 M1Are you tired of the hoo-hum Windows mobile phones all over the market and cannot afford the higher end Android smart phones? If you like to get a useful mobile smart phone that gets things done without having to spend for excessive features, then the Vodafone 360 M1 is made just for you. This Samsung made device is carried by Vodafone and supported by their 360 service. The operating system is Linux Mobile which makes for an amazing alternative to the Google Android (without the extra Google features of course).

The 360 Service

Vodafone’s 360 service is comprehensive and worth considering. If you have never had a contract before, then this might be a good time to consider one. The 360 is very competitive with other carrier services and is actually worth considering switching to if your current plan is ending soon.

From the 360 H1 to M1

The 360 M1 is actually a light version of the original Vodafone 360 H1. While the H1 is made to compete with the high end mobile phones (and it does so impressively); the M1 is a more practical mobile smart phone that has just the right balance of features. The only complaint we have is that the M1 seems to not have any wireless LAN support. Hopefully, Vodafone will change that. Aside from the Wi-Fi, the rest of the adjustments are pretty sound. The camera is now 3 mega pixels as compared to 5 and the AMOLED touch screen has been converted to a standard TFT display.

A Brighter Look

Aside from the hardware changes, the M1 also seems to have more variants in colors. This slight external feature is pretty nice since the original H1 comes in a very stylish, yet common black finish. All in all, the M1 is an impressive mobile phone in its own right.

Vodafone 360 M1 Links:

Opera Mini Browser Hits 35 Million User Milestone

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

opera_logoOpera Software made an announcement on Tuesday stating that its mobile phone web browser, Opera Mini, was used throughout September this year by over 35.6 million peopler all over the world. According to the company this number is up by 11.5% since August, or by 150% when compared with last years results.

During the announcement the company also stated that the Opera Mini browser in the top 10 countries was able to save its users roughly US $8.1 billion. The top 10 countries referred to in terms of the Opera Mini web browser are; the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Ukraine, China, Poland and South Africa – although apparently Vietnam only just made the list, pushing off Nigeria.

Other statistics worth noting include:

> The 35.6 million people using the browser during September viewed more than 15 billion web pages, which is up 7.2% since August and 230% since a year ago.

> The average daily page views for the Opera Mini is approximately 500 million.

> Users of the Opera Mini mobile browser generated almost 227 million MB of data worldwide during the month of September alone, up by 8.7% since August and 224% since the previous year.

The company publishes these Opera Mini mobile browser usage reports once a month, as well as providing details on global trends regarding mobile web browsing. This report stated that users in the US and UK have saved the most money by using Opera Mini, thanks to the amount of internet use and cost per MB.

Certainly the Opera Mini mobile web browser is gaining in popularity, and if this recent report is anything to go by it isn’t going to lose steam anytime soon.