Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dan Hesse says Android coming to Sprint this year

While speaking at Fortune's Brainstorm: Tech event in Pasadena on Friday, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse apparently got all kinds of verbal when it came to Android and his carrier. The honcho (and TV commercial star) remarked at the industry conference that he was "Glad we waited on Android," adding "The reviews say now it's ready for prime time. It wasn't when it first came out." While we knew Sprint had interest in Android phones (and potentially some forthcoming models), we hadn't heard a peep about timeframes, and the last thing Dan had to say was that he thought Googlephones weren't quite ready for prime-time. That's all changed now with the appearance of Android 1.5, it seems, as Hesse stated that the carrier will ship at least one model with the OS onboard this year. We don't want to be zany conspiracy theorists, but the timing of this seems to dovetail nicely with the very public launch of HTC's heavily modified Hero and Sense UI... a device which has been rumored to be making its way to Sprint sometime this year. The carrier obviously has a storied history of partnering with HTC on phones, so it wouldn't come as a surprise to see it land on Sprint (we certainly haven't seen any other carriers pipe up). Regardless, it looks like Sprint won't be putting all of its eggs in the Palm basket for long. It's going to be a very interesting holiday season.

News : Palm complains about Apple to USB governing body

You should be refilling that popcorn bucket right about now. While we thought the next round of the Pre / iTunes syncing fiasco would probably be something simple like Apple releasing another quick patch, Palm has stepped it up a notch by complaining to the USB Implementers Forum over what it sees is "improper use of the Vendor ID number" by the gang at Cupertino. What the company means is that when an ID is applied for, a form is signed that states:

"Unauthorized use of assigned or unassigned USB Vendor ID Numbers and associated Product ID Numbers are strictly prohibited."

The implication here is that Palm believes Apple is violating this stature by disallowing certain Vendor IDs -- namely, Palm's -- from using iTunes. So how'd Palm manage to "fix" that syncing hole Apple managed to fill? From the looks of it, by misrepresenting its own Vendor ID, so that the Pre now shows up as a iPod / mass storage device made by Apple (ID 0x05ac) as opposed to one by Palm (ID 0x083) -- hence the complaint. Of course, lying about your own ID would seem to break with the aforementioned rule, too, so what we're left here is some muddled grey area and Palm apparently being okay with fudging some data to correct what it sees is an injustice. If anyone's curious, DVD Jon points out that the root USB Node is still identified as "Pre," so we very likely could see another round of these shenanigans in the not-too-distant future.

Finally, now's as good of a time as any to take a look at some of the peripheral casualties from this war of attrition. In an essay on his personal site that's been circulating the interwebs, Marc Deslauriers outlines the pangs he and the Linux community have felt over the years trying to use iPods on the open source platform, surmising that Apple is intentionally and repeatedly seeking ways to block non-iTunes programs from syncing in any way with its devices. This story is far from over, and as ugly as it looks now, it's probably only gonna get worse.

Preview : Samsung's Omnia Pro B7610

Samsung's recently-announced Omnia Pro B7610 seems like a sweet hunk of Windows Mobile love -- especially if you're cross-shopping it with the Touch Pro2 -- but is there more than meets the eye? GSMArena recently put a prerelease unit through its paces, and it's not a perfect situation by any stretch; first off, apparently not very pretty in the flesh, owing in part to its girth and in part to the weird red battery cover. The resistive touchscreen isn't great and the OLED display washes out in sunlight (as they typically do), but on the plus side, the QWERTY keyboard is said to be stellar and it seems that Sammy's done a great job of completely concealing WinMo 6.1's sad, sagging skin with TouchWiz. In the final analysis, the site concludes that the phone easily matches the high bar set by the Touch Pro2 -- strong words considering HTC's market dominance and the fact that we're still looking at a prototype Omnia Pro here, so this should get even more interesting.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Samsung Omnia II gets banded for US 3G

Remember how Verizon is getting the Omnia II? Yeah, well, don't get too excited, because this isn't it. A version of Samsung's latest full-touch WinMo superphone just garnered FCC approval, and more excitingly, it packs WCDMA bands II and V -- exactly the bands we use in North America -- but you might notice that there's a surprising dearth of English on the product's certification label. Well, see, it turns out that South America uses those bands, too -- and the "L" in this version's model number of i8000L probably stands for Latin America, if we had to guess. That's not to say savvy North Americans couldn't import this and get some juicy 3G on AT&T or Rogers, but at least in AT&T's case, we still don't have any particular reason to believe that this'll land over there. Certainly wouldn't hurt their case, though, would it?

Android-powered HTC Click

One more note about that Android-powered HTC Click that we saw in a gloriously-framed shot yesterday morning: it's going to be cheap. It had been said all along that the Click would mark HTC's first Android entry into the low-end fray (joining the Touch Viva on WinMo), meaning the sticker price would be kept to a minimum -- but the Vietnamese forum that first brought you this picture is saying that we're looking at somewhere between 5 and 6 million dong, which works out to $280 to $336 unlocked. That's cheap enough to ensure that it's free on contract virtually anywhere in the world where it's sold, bringing Android to a whole new demographic. Now, just call us when the Hero's down to $280, eh?

Garmin-Asus confirms nuvifone G60 for sale this month, M20 soon after

Is this really happening? Are we all collectively in some sort of lucid, dreamlike state where Garmin-branded cellphones flow like water, or is this the real deal? Correct us if we're wrong, readers -- but if we're reading this press release correctly, Taiwanese folks will have a crack at Garmin-Asus' nuvifone G60 come the 27th of this month, just a few days from now; Singapore and Malaysia will have theirs meanwhile by the end of August, and Europe and the US are "on schedule" for the second half of the year (we hesitate to associate the phrase "on schedule" with this product, but we'll let it slide this time). If WinMo is more your cup of tea, the M20 will be coming to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia in August as expected -- the US isn't on the roadmap for this one, but Europe should have it later this half. These phones have taken so long to arrive that they'll be fighting an uphill battle against irrelevance -- but with the reality that handsets will be all but replacing dedicated portable nav units in the coming years, it's a play that Garmin's gotta still be eager to make nonetheless.

News : Walmart offers decently-spec'd Compaq laptop for $300

Not sold on the whole netbook craze? Then you might want to consider paying a visit to your local Walmart, which is set to offer a surprisingly well-spec'd Compaq Presario laptop for the low, low price of $298. As you might expect however, that model (the CQ60-419WM) isn't entirely new, but it did just debut in January of this year with a significantly higher $470 price tag, and packed enough features to make it a not terrible deal even at that price. That includes a 15.6-inch 1366x768 display, an AMD Sempron SI-42 processor, NVIDIA GeForce 8200M graphics, 3GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, a DVD burner and, of course, Windows Vista for an OS. Good enough for ya? Then look for it to hit Walmarts on July 26th and be available "while supplies last."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Olympus : FE range of compact cameras

If the EP-1 is a little out of your price range, you could always drop down the Olympus range and check out the FE-5020, FE-4000 and FE-26, which promise top-notch imagery and ease of use, but without the hefty hole in the wallet.

Working our way up the range, the £99 Olympus FE-26, which is available in flamingo pink, cornflower blue and cosmic black, packs in a 2.7-inch display, Dual Image Stabilisation for blur-free images even in crowded environments and Advanced Face Detection for better people shots. Yes, an Olympus camera covering all the basics for under £100 - which means you'll not be in tears if you leave it in a club.

For £40 more, you can opts for the £139 Olympus FE-4000 in pure white, dark grey, metal magenta, arctic blue and tangerine orange. For that extra outlay, you get a super-slim shell that packs in a wide zoom function for better group shots, an AF tracking function for better moving shots, the same Advanced Face Detection and Dual Image Stabilisation, along with four Magic Filters - Pop Art, Fish Eye, Sketch and Pin Hole. Yes, Olympus goes all Lomo.

Top of this particular range is the Olympus FE-5020. Retailing for £169 and available in pure white, dark grey, mocha brown and ocean blue, it's another slimline snapper, offering super wide zoom, AF tracking, Dual Image Stabilisation, Advanced Face Detection, those four Magic Filters and movie recording with sound.

HTC Firestone shown ?

We've got enough evidence at this point to say with confidence that the leaked HTC lineup from early this ear is stone cold real, and if you remember correctly, one of the headline devices in there was the Firestone -- a device likely destined to sit at the very top end of the company's range with aims on replacing the Touch HD. You might also remember that there was a small, crappy pic of the Firestone in there, showing a weird silver corner on the phone's face. That disappeared in a later (almost certainly fake) render, but it's back now -- with a vengeance. Some mysterious figure hooked up wmpoweruser with this latest image, and we're of two opinions here: one, it's crappily-rendered enough to be fake -- but two, even if it is fake, we're thinking it paints a very accurate picture of what the real phone's going to look like. The concept of a front corner-mounted metal mesh loudspeaker has yet to prove its worth in the real world, but if we can get a dreamy list of specs and the rumored capacitive touchscreen to come along for the ride, we might be willing to let it slide.

Modu actually launches in Israel

You know, we really didn't believe it at first, but looks like Modu has finally launched in some part of the world, and just as rumored, the inaugural carrier is the Israel company's local network Cellcom. Likely because they knew we still wouldn't be convinced, the crew at Mobo have gone hands-on with the phone. All in all, no difference from what we saw back in February -- jackets and all -- but hey, it's crossed a major threshold and hit "retail product" status. So is it time to talk about touchscreens yet?

New Palm Pre now available from Sprint online, activity avoided

Hey, it's hot out there. While you could lather-up into a deep dish of epidural man-gravy by trucking on over to the nearest brick-and-mortar, why not kick back on-line with Sprint for that new Palm Pre purchase? Sure, you'll still have to mail-in the $100 rebate, but last we checked, licking a stamp won't break a sweat.

2009 iPhone 3.0's 'broken' push messaging caused by unlockers, dirty keys

First this week there was something of a brouhaha when some iPhone 3.0 users started receiving random instant messages seemingly intended for other folks. Push notifications were one of the big additions in this release and so naturally a lot of people claimed the feature was broken. They were partially right, but wrong in blaming Apple, as it was they who had themselves broken it. The iPhone generates unique public/private keys upon activation that identify handsets to secure those pushed IMs, and it should come as no surprise that unlocking tools use duplicated keys to facilitate illicit use. You know what happens when you share dirty keys, right? With single identifiers registered to multiple phones instant messages are getting zinged all over the place rather than to their intended destination, a feature we're guessing spammers will start exploiting in three... two...

New Intel's 34nm X25-M runs like a thoroughbred SSD, costs less

It was only two days ago that they finally became official, but already we've got a couple of reviews springing up to tell us all about the second generation X25-M SSDs from Intel. PC Perspective kick things off with a full examination of the new drive, finding plenty of good (improved random reads and writes), some bad (minor fragmentation issues under extreme use scenarios) and pretty much no ugly. Not to be outdone, Anandtech have dissected the drive and compared its innards with the older generation hardware, while also running a few benchmarks for good measure. The conclusion in both camps is that while Intel has improved the hardware side of things, it is the drastically reduced price that makes the X25-M G2 the best choice in the consumer SSD space. Navigate past the break for a pricing chart, but remember that retail cost will be a bit steeper, should you be able to snag one in the wild.

2009 GoPro offers 1080p high-def in a little helmetcam with the HD Hero Wide

The high definition-helmetcam wars are heating up. We recently tested the VholdR's sleek ContourHD 720p goggle-mounted shooter and definitely enjoyed it... but you know us: always looking for more. More is what the GoPro HD Hero Wide looks set to offer, with full 1080p recording at 30fps; a first in the extreme camera segment and not something frequently found in a device this small. Just as impressive is a 720p at 60fps recording mode, perfect for catching every detail of your aerials and varials -- and subsequent faceplants. We're still not particularly fond of the "cube on the head" look of the thing, but that cube will at least now contain an 1100mAh battery, said to offer a solid two to three hours of battery life. Quite a package, and while the expected package price of $299 is $100 more than the company's current offerings, it's still solid value. No word on when this will be showing up at the supercross scene.

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