Archive for November, 2010

In Focus: HTC

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

HTC is back in the headlines again this week as they have confirmed that the HTC Gratia is indeed heading to the UK but the original November launch will no longer push through. This latest development may come as a bit of a disappointment for some who were looking forward to the device, but according to the Taiwan based phone maker, the Gratia will be launching here pretty soon.

The device is a well made, mid range handset. From the 3.2 inch TFT touch screen to the 5 mega pixel camera, everything about this phone speaks of smart phone practicality. The Gratia will have a slight edge over the original Aria as the new handset will come packed with the Android 2.2 Froyo operating system.

HTC is currently known for being a heavy supporter for both the Google Android and the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 OS. However, there have been a few reports that the manufacturer might also start working on its own mobile platform. Given the market success and acceptance of the HTC Sense user interface, it might not be such a bad idea at all –even Samsung’s Bada is currently doing great as the Korean phone maker balances all three mobile platforms.

Speaking of the Windows Phone 7 mobile platform, the HTC HD7 is currently considered as HTC’s flagship WP7 device. However, recent news indicates that the device is not entirely as good as it seems.

It appears that the device’s antenna is located in the bottom of the device. While this is not as bad as the design flaw on the iPhone 4, it is still something that users should be mindful about. As with the antennagate, it is feared that touching the exposed area is likely to block out the device’s signal and might result in dropped calls.

Mobile Gaming Industry: Not Quite There Yet

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

One long standing argument that many casual smart phone owners have with hardcore gamers is that the mobile handset is a viable gaming device. Sure, when it comes to game sales and number of players; mobile apps have all the high numbers in. But when it comes to content, there is nothing on iTunes, the Android Market and other operating systems that can even compare to the content of the original Nintendo Gameboy.

Considering that a rumor last week stated that the so-called PSP Phone is not going to be carrying the PSP or Playstation logo; it is easy to see that the smart phone industry is leagues away from being able to attract real gamers.

A common point often raised up is that third party developers do make apps; Capcom, Lucas Arts, Bandai Namco, Square Enix and many other game companies now have mobile app divisions. There are even major game titles such as Ace Combat, Katamari Damacy, Ridge Racer, Metal Gear Solid, Mass Effect and more available on game apps.

But what many people fail to realize is that despite the impressive graphics and famous titles, these are all watered down versions of the game. The story is mostly missing, gameplay controls are over simplified and of course, due to the limited size of apps, most of the important content is missing.

So what does the smart phone lack for good games? Media storage is the biggest problem. Much like the PSP Go-exclusives lack good titles due to its download-only policy, the same applies to the smart phone. Bad and inaccurate controls of the accelerometer and the touch screen are another reason. Fighting games and other high speed action games require better consistency of controls that only control pads can give –at least in that regard, the upcoming Sony Ericsson gaming phone has a bit of an advantage over other handsets.

Mobile News Highlights

Monday, November 29th, 2010

HTC is currently leading the industry with a combined lineup of great Windows Phone 7 and Android smart phones. Of course, the Apple iPhone 4’s large media hype and branding has helped it garner so many sales that it is hard to catch up with even after having been launched so many months back, but it is hard to deny that the current market interest and demand for Android phones is staggeringly high. Currently HTC devices have the highest number of searches online –even more than the iPhone.

If this demand starts translating to actual sales, Apple will have some serious competition. HTC may not have been all that well known several years back, but since the rise of the Google Android smart phone, the Taiwan based phone maker has been able to shake off its former reputation as Microsoft’s Pocket PC partner and instead, HTC has risen up to become one of Google’s most trusted industry partners.

In other news, a new Nokia device has been spotted in images. Designated as the Nokia X7-00, the device looks like it has been made specifically to promote the Nokia Ovi Store. Gaming and apps are two key features that are being shown off, as well as media playback. The specs are the same as the Nokia N8 handset, except that the X7-00 has a slightly lower spec camera and has four speakers up front.

The prices for RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook touch screen tablet have been confirmed with the version with the lowest internal memory getting a price tag of below 200 GBP. More than reasonable for any who simply want to browse online or read. At 400 GBP, there is plenty of storage space for media as well. With the promising new QNX OS and a good price rating, expect the Playbook to do well in terms of sales when it finally comes out.

iPad 2 Rumors Circulating

Monday, November 29th, 2010

It is pretty much an accepted notion that Apple is slowly losing its foothold in the tablet industry. Slowly, but far too fast for the Cupertino based company. While they have had a pretty strong start with the launch of the iPad –being the first commercial tablet available, the sudden arrival of so many other tablet devices running the rival OS, Google Android, has left iPad users wondering if they should shift devices.

There are plenty of reasons to give up the iPad. Despite the larger screen size, the 9.7 inch screen has proved vastly inferior to the 7 inch touch screen of newer devices (such as the Galaxy Tab from Samsung). The reason for this is sheer ergonomics, while the visual quality of the screens did not vary as much, the weight did. Since tablets are mostly used for browsing and reading, the act of holding up the device for long periods of time has made the larger iPad harder to handle. Of course, the lack of many features such as USB support, a camera and even Flash support has led to many wondering if the iPad is even worth the expensive price tag.

Rumors that a new iPad is in the works have been spreading online in the past couple of days and looking at the content, one cannot help if they are musing of disappointed Apple iPad owners. The new features include video phone capabilities, USB support and larger storage space. So far, no official word from Apple has been given about the iPad 2 making most of the current information as unconfirmed rumors.

BlackBerry’s Playbook is about to be launched soon, and the Galaxy Tab is already making strong sales (which will certainly increase one the price slash gets in); in most aspects, the original iPad will not be able to compete with the Android tablets (even when the iPad is subsidized later on)

Round Up of Today’s Mobile News

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Vodafone is currently working very hard to push the limits and improve their services –more particularly, their network coverage. With many locations in the UK still lacking proper network connectivity and access, the mobile network operator has made it a major goal to enhance their area of coverage as soon as possible.

In London alone, it has been reported that Vodafone has been spending about 1 million Pounds each day in order to maintain and improve their network. This project has started since September 25 and is expected to finish by the end of the year. For those in closed locations, the Femtocell Sure Signal booster is also available.

3 UK has confirmed that they will also be offering the Apple iPad under subsidized contracts. T-Mobile and Orange UK have been the first to make the announcement regarding the touch screen tablet from the Cupertino based company. The announcement from the virtual network operator is going to be a major source of happiness for those hoping to get great 3G deals for the web browsing tablet.

BlackBerry’s Playbook touch screen tablet is reportedly going to be price a lot cheaper than its two biggest competitors: the iPad and the Galaxy Tab. Reports state that the 8 GB version of the QNX tablet is going to have a 189.84 GBP price tag while the 32 GB version will be priced at 380.32 GBP.

Samsung has confirmed that not only are they working on the next Nexus branded handset (the Nexus S), but they are also going to release a new non-Galaxy Android phone, the Stealth V. This new handset will be featuring high end specs and media streaming capabilities.

Lastly, new rumors about the PSP phone have popped out announcing that the device might get an official unveiling this December 9. However, due to the lack of credibility from the source of the leak makes us all doubt that the news is believable.

Upcoming Devices: the Nexus S

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Google has a second Nexus branded handset, and that is by now, a well established fact. While it was not easy to believe that the Android phone make would be working on a new self branded handset phone so soon, the fact is that they have already teamed up with Samsung in order to bring the Nexus S to the smart phone industry.

For those who may remember, the Nexus One (Google’s first self branded Android device) was manufactured by Taiwanese phone maker HTC. Many believe that this choice was heavily influenced by HTC’s long standing history in the development of the Android OS as they have been among the founding members of the Open Handset Alliance.

Now, Samsung has been chosen. Many believe that this was because of the unbelievable success of the Galaxy S. While the iPhone 4 did have problems with the whole antennagate issue (which led to some Apple fans opting to pass up on the device), the Galaxy S’ market success is still a product of the device’s own impressive hardware.

Unlike the Nexus One that was basically the same handset as the HTC Desire; the Nexus S takes cues from the Samsung Galaxy S, but takes the features a little bit further. The CPU has been enhanced to an Arm V7 dual core processor with OpenGL ES. The touch screen will employ a new super AMOLED 2 display and the OS will be the new Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform.

So far, we are downright impressed with the initial specs of the device –though we also suspect that the price tag will also be pretty high. Aside from that, the only other real concern is availability. While Google makes it easy for developers to acquire Nexus handsets, the same is not to be said for regular consumers.

Today’s Top Stories in Mobile News

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Nokia is fast becoming the new king of delays. With the massive scheduling setback that the Nokia N8 has already gone through, one would think that Nokia would be more prudent with the release date. Now, the Nokia E7 has been set back for a January launch, hopefully this is the only delay that the handset will go through.

A new social networking phone from Nokia is also coming out. The C6 handset will feature a touch screen display, an 8 mega pixel camera and support for HD video recording and playback. Expect to see this mid range device spreading out once it becomes available to the public.

Sony is moving away from the Sony Reader hardware and has just released the Sony Reader application for mobile phones. Anyone who has used the Reader will be familiar with the app controls and will also appreciate the familiar visual layout of the tool as well.

Motorola has announced that the heavy duty Defy Android smart phone will finally receive an update to the OS bringing it t version 2.2 Froyo. Users of this Gorilla glass protected smart phone should expect the updated to be released shortly.

A new Tron inspired light cycle application from Coke combines a basic game with GPS for a massive real world light cycle match. Of course, the game is not as fast paced as one would think, but being able to navigate through town without crashing a light wall is going to be a pretty tough challenge once a lot of players start joining in.

It has been stated that the news iOS update will be coming out on December, Apple’s new 4.3 update promises plenty of focus on RSS feeds and content publication so iOS users might want to check out this new update when it comes out. Also it has been announced that a Jailbreak feature for the third generation iPhones has come out for version 4.2.

Mobile News: HTC OS, WP7 Push and More

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Rumors about a new mobile platform are spreading around. According to various reports, the new OS is going to be developed by none other than Taiwan based phone maker HTC. Considering the state of the mobile phone industry, this is not going to be a surprising move. In fact, if HTC pushes through with this plan, it will certainly not be the first.

Korean phone maker Samsung has proven to the world that it is possible to support other mobile platforms while developing one’s own proprietary system. Samsung’s Omnia series concentrates on the Windows Phone 7 OS while the Galaxy series are comprised of Android smart phones. Their Bada OS is used in the Samsung Wave series. All together, these three series make up the main lineup of Samsung’s smart phone offerings.

HTC can do the same if they decide to come out with an operating system of their own. With the HTC Sense proving that the company can design a great user interface, coming up with a good platform to run it on (outside of the Android) is pretty much within their capabilities.

In other news, Microsoft is going to go all out with the promotion of the Windows Phone 7 mobile platform. It has been announced that the Bing search engine and the Xbox Live network will be used extensively in order to promote the new OS to everyone. Microsoft currently has to take charge and control as much of the gaming industry market as they could before Sony can produce the rumored PSP Phone –something that could literally take the WP7’s XBL market and bring them over to the Android.

Also, Opera has announced that the latest version of their mobile browser, version 10.1, is now available for Symbian devices. They have finished testing the beta version and the currently available browser download would provide users with the final product.

Smart Phone News: the Top Headlines

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

LG is heavily supporting the Windows Phone 7 mobile platform with the launch of the Optimus 7 just a while back. Now it seems that a second LG made WP7 handset is also coming out: the Optimus 7Q. The Q stands for Quantum and despite the fact that it looks a lot like the Optimus 7; this is an entirely new device.

Specs wise, the Quantum still follows Microsoft’s hardware requirements though the screen is a lot smaller at 3.5 inches (still carries the required resolution at least). The best part about the new handset is the slide out QWERY keyboard.

For those looking forward to the Windows Phone 7 handset, the Dell Venue Pro, this might be a good time to belay that purchase and consider your alternatives. According to a recent report, the smart phonies having some serious hardware issues; aside from the battery problems and the issues it has been having with WiFi connectivity, the Venue Pro is now having some SIM card problems as well.

Moving on to the Android OS, Motorola’s next generation smart phone is going to be the Olympus. So far, initial reports peg this device to be the best contender for the next gen device as it packs the Tegra 2 CPU. The handset can easily be mistaken for a larger version of the previously released Motorola Defy (which has certainly made a lasting impression with its super tough casing).

A new smart phone from Acer seems pretty close in concept to the Dell Streak. The device has yet to be given an official name, but so far we are certainly interested in what it can do. The biggest draw of this handset is the 4.8 inch touch screen display –which is the closest that comes to the Streak’s 5 inch capacitive touch screen.

PSP Phone: Opposing Views from Smart Phone Fans

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

The announcement of the PSP Phone is almost surprisingly making the smart phone industry pretty excited. This is odd, because despite the fact that the handset is being rumored as an Android device and will have a touch screen display, the fact remains that this is a gaming handheld with phone capabilities –not a gaming-centric mobile phone.

Unlike the Apple iPhone or the HTC Desire, the PSP Phone is a modified PSP device. This means that above all else, it is a gaming handheld first and a smart phone second. In fact, the only thing that the gaming industry can look forward to with this device is the fact that it will consolidate two gadgets into a single device –which is quite convenient to carry around, but at the same time, raises concerns about text messages, emails and voice calls cutting into gaming time.

That can be most inopportune at times; after all, one can ignore the discreet hum of a mobile phone when playing through a climactic battle, the same cannot be said about a sudden text message breaking you timing of a critical special combo in a boss fight.

Another major difference in opinion is the fact that smart phone users want more casual games –which is practically not the direction that Sony wants to go for. While instant playability is a good feature, the PSP Phone (or Sony Playstation Phone, depending on who you believe) is more than silly app games. The system will need to have hardcore RPG titles, high impact action games and of course, the tight combat feel of serious fighting games.

The bottom line here, no casual gamer with a smart phone will switch to a PSP (they are better off investing in a tablet). After all, the price of a PSP phone will not be cheap making it something that specifically targets gamers. So the next time someone states that the PSP needs titles that are like Angry Birds, they can stick to their vanilla smart phones instead.