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Archive for January, 2009

T-Mobile’s Nokia 7510 goes on sale

Posted by comtech3 on January 30, 2009

January 28, 2009 10:24 AM PST
Posted by Kent German

It’s a busy day for T-Mobile. In addition to announcing the availability of the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 and the new T-Mobile Shadow, the carrier also started shipping another CES phone, the Nokia 7510.

Though T-Mobile isn’t using the “Supernova” label as part of the 7510’s name, the phone offers everything we saw in Las Vegas. Its most prominent design features are the replaceable front covers in brown, red, and espresso and the hidden external display that flashes nifty animation intermittently.

Features include a 2-megapixel camera, a music and video player, support for T-Mobile myFaves, messaging and e-mail, instant messaging, Bluetooth, an expandable memory slot, a speakerphone, and a personal organizer. It also has integrated Wi-Fi for use with T-Mobile’s HotSpot @Home service.


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T-Mobile Shadow: hands-on impressions and photo gallery

Posted by comtech3 on January 28, 2009

January 27, 2009 9:01 PM PST

Posted by Bonnie Cha

In addition to the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900, T-Mobile also announced the retail availability of the T-Mobile Shadow on Tuesday night. The Windows Mobile 6.1 device was first announced at CES 2009 as the replacement to the original Shadow and can now be purchased online and at T-Mobile stores for $149.99 with a two-year contract.

I actually have the T-Mobile Shadow in hand but only received it a few hours ago, so I’m still checking out the smartphone and putting through its paces. I’ll have a full review for you tomorrow morning, but for now I wanted to share some initial thoughts and hands-on photos of the smartphone with you.

From afar, the T-Mobile Shadow looks like a more modern, hipper version of the original Shadow. By the numbers, it’s the same size as its predecessor at 4 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.6 inch deep and 5.3 ounces, but the smartphone now sports curved edges, shinier face, and a new paint job that gives it a fresh look. I received the white/mint version (it’s also available in black/burgundy) and found it quite attractive, especially the back where it slowly transforms from white to mint.

However, that’s about where the attraction ends. Up close and in the hand, I couldn’t help but think that the T-Mobile Shadow looked like a toy and didn’t really see any vast improvements or benefits over its predecessor. In fact, I actually favor the original model’s design. The new Shadow has a smaller 1.6-inch QVGA display that doesn’t look all that sharp or bright, showing just 64,000 colors at a 320×240 pixel resolution. The navigation toggle/wheel below the screen also feels loose and cheap. I did like the user interface for its cool animated effect and how it organizes the phone’s applications into eight main categories, all of which are accessible right from the Today screen.

T-Mobile Shadow

T-Mobile Shadow

(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CBS Interactive)

The Shadow offers the same slider design as the first Shadow. To access the SureType 20-button keypad, just slide the screen up. It requires a good push but the sliding mechanism feels strong and the screen securely locks into place. What greets you when you finally open the phone, however, is a bit disappointing. Allow me to illustrate.

Two co-workers happened to be around my desk when I received the phone (one who was actually considering purchasing the T-Mobile Shadow for herself) and as soon as I pushed up the screen, they both immediately went off about how the worn down and ugly the keypad looked–that’s never a good sign. But they’re right. While the buttons are large and easy to press, the backlighting is really uneven and dim and only illuminates about five buttons. It just looks bad. I’m even more disappointed considering that HTC made the Shadow, and the company has quite a reputation for making some high-quality devices.

Features and performance
The new features didn’t particularly wow me either. The main difference is that the Shadow now ships with Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard out of the box and includes a faster processor (260MHz versus 200MHz) and UMA support so you can now make calls over Wi-Fi using T-Mobile’s Unlimited HotSpot Calling service. Everything else is pretty much status quo. I think I would have at least liked to seen an upgraded camera, 3G support, or integrated GPS.

Call quality was decent with good volume and fairly clear audio. There was some slight background hissing but nothing incredibly distracting. We did run into a bit of that notorious Windows Mobile sluggishness in the way of a pause or few-second delay when launching applications or performing some tasks. I’ll obviously give you a more in-depth look at some of these issues in my full review on Wednesday.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve only had a few hours with T-Mobile Shadow so I won’t deliver my final verdict yet. However, if I had to describe my experience thus far, I guess I would say I feel underwhelmed. It feels like HTC and T-Mobile simply tweaked the design slightly, threw in a couple new tricks, and put it out for sale without bringing any real innovation or benefit over its predecessor. I just don’t see anything compelling for current Shadow owners to make the upgrade.

That said, I feel like the T-Mobile Shadow has a place and purpose. I think it’s a good device for customers crossing over from a regular cell phone to their first smartphone, since it introduces the extra functionality in consumer-friendly package. Perfect for T-Mobile’s younger demographic.

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New browsing apps available for the iPhone

Posted by comtech3 on January 20, 2009

January 14, 2009 5:49 AM PST

Posted by Caroline McCarthy

We’re guessing that they won’t surpass iBeer in popularity any time soon, but this is big news for the App Store: Apple has quietly started allowing Web browser applications in.

According to MacRumors, a small bunch of browser apps were recently let into the App Store. They include the free Edge Browser, the historyless Incognito ($1.99), the tabbed WebMate ($0.99), and something called Shaking Web ($1.99) that attempts to make Web sites easier to read.

Previously, Apple had not approved third-party browsers for the App Store; its own Safari browser is preinstalled on the iPhone. Other browsers weren’t allowed, citing “duplicating functionality.”

The browser apps currently in the App Store all have some kind of quirk that sets them apart from standard browsers, ranging from a slant in design (Edge) to one in privacy (Incognito). They’re all built using Safari as a base too. So it’s not yet clear whether Apple will open the gates to iPhone versions of completely separate third-party browsers, such as Firefox or Opera.

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USB 3.0 will crush eSATA, FireWire

Posted by comtech3 on January 14, 2009

January 13, 2009 11:21 AM PST
Posted by Alex Serpo
Intel demonstrated a working version of USB 3.0 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. Here’s why it will make eSATA and FireWire obsolete.

When USB 3.0 is expected to hit the market in early 2010, it will have been 10 years since the now ubiquitous USB 2.0 was introduced (April 2000). The current USB 2.0 specification runs at a theoretical maximum speed of 480Mbps, and can supply power (for those looking for the hard details, you can find the USB 2.0 specification here (zip file).

According to the USB Implementers Forum, there were 2 billion USB 2.0 devices shipped in 2006 (one for every three people in the world), and the install base was 6 billion (almost one for every person in the world). In November 2007, the USB Implementers forum announced the USB 3.0 specifications, and Intel officially demonstrated the technology at CES 2009.

Now, the juice: USB 3.0 promises a theoretical maximum rate of 5Gbps, meaning it’s 10 times faster than USB 2.0. USB 3.0 is also full duplex, meaning it can upload and download simultaneously (it’s bi-directional); USB 2.0 is only half duplex.

Put side by side with eSATA and FireWire 800, USB 3.0 is far superior. eSATA, an external connection that runs at the same speed as the internal SATA 1.0 bus, has a maximum theoretical of 3Gbps. This makes USB 3.0 faster than eSATA and about six times faster than FireWire 800 (full duplex at 800Mbps).

USB 3.0 also provides another advantage; while eSATA is faster than FireWire 800, unlike FireWire it cannot supply power. USB 3.0 has the advantage of being faster than both, even while supplying power.

Finally, USB 3.0 has improved power management, meaning that devices can move into idle, suspend, and sleep states. This potentially means more battery life out of laptops and other battery-based USB-supporting devices like cameras and mobile phones.

Of course, there are other factors to consider; the FireWire 3200 standard is also in the works and promises to allow 3.2GHz speeds on existing FireWire 800 hardware. USB 2.0 generally doesn’t meet its theoretical maximum throughput, due to its dependence on hardware and software configuration, where FireWire gets much closer.

It’s hard to say whether USB 3.0’s updated architecture will still use more CPU time than FireWire does.

But in the age of powerful hardware (can anyone say “3.2GHz, quad-core CPUs”?), all of this means that FireWire is still not going to match USB 3.0’s theoretical maximum of 5Gbps.

The ultimate signal that this war has already been won is Apple’s recent decision to ditch FireWire from its consumer line in favor of USB. Previously, Cupertino had been one of FireWire’s greatest advocates. And surely the company will be one of the first to adopt USB 3.0.

All in all, we can’t wait for motherboard manufacturers like Gigabyte and Asus to start supporting the technology and mainstream PC builders like Dell to start integrating it into their products. Bring on the speed.

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Next big PS3 price cut set for April?

Posted by comtech3 on January 14, 2009

January 13, 2009 1:57 PM PST

Posted by David Carnoy

No shocker: more talk of a price drop on the 80GB version of the PS3.

(Credit: Sony)

This rumor’s a little dubious, but several blogs are reporting that Sony plans to cut the PlayStation’s 3’s price tag by $100 in April. That would put the 80GB PS3 at $300. The source: an analyst at Wedbush Morgan who’s also saying that Microsoft will chop $50 off the Xbox 360 Pro around E3 2009 (in June), putting that system at $250.

When it comes to gaming systems, price drops are the equivalent of an economic stimulus plan, and breaking $300 would obviously make the PS3 attractive to a whole new batch of consumers, regardless of poor economic conditions. Price points are price points and things start getting pretty magical when you get under $300 (and in the case of the Xbox 360, $250 is even better).

Naturally, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist–or an analyst at an investment firm–to figure any of this out. And giving yourself a nice four-month buffer to predict a price drop doesn’t exactly impress. But people love to speculate on this sort of stuff, and with word that Sony will report a big $1.1 billion operating loss for 2007/2008 (its first operating loss in 14 years), the pressure’s on Sony to rev up its Playstation 3 franchise for the health of the company and its Blu-ray platform (yes, the PS3 has a built-in Blu-ray player, lest you forgot).

The good news is Sony has a number of highly anticipated exclusive titles coming to the PS3 this year, including Killzone 2, Infamous, Heavy Rain, MAG, God of War 3, Uncharted 2, and MLB 09: The Show. Combine that with a $100 price cut and the PS3 should get a nice jumpstart–whenever it comes. But nothing’s a given these days and clearly Sony has to balance taking a loss on the hardware to spur profits on the software (game) side.

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T-Mobile Shadow makes official appearance

Posted by comtech3 on January 9, 2009

January 8, 2009 7:38 AM PST

Posted by Bonnie Cha

T-Mobile Shadow II

We’ve been hearing rumors about it for a couple of months now, but the T-Mobile Shadow (yep, just the Shadow, not Shadow II) had its officially coming out party on Tuesday night at CES 2009.

Taking over for the original T-Mobile Shadow, the updated version, which was manufactured by HTC, sports a fresh look with curved edges, a shinier face, and comes in two new color combinations: black with burgundy and white with mint. The other major additions are a faster processor (260MHz) and UMA support, so you can now make calls over Wi-Fi using T-Mobile’s HotSpot service.

Aside from those differences, the T-Mobile Shadow is very much like its predecessor. The smartphone features a QVGA non-touch display and a slider design with a SureType-like keypad. Under the hood, it runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard Edition and features integrated Bluetooth (stereo Bluetooth supported), Wi-Fi, a 2-megapixel camera, and a microSD expansion slot that supports up to 8GB cards.

Though T-Mobile did not announce an official availability date or pricing, the carrier did say it would be released in the coming weeks and we’re guessing the pricing will be around the $149.99 range. In addition to the Shadow, T-Mobile also added the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8900 to its lineup earlier this week. Good to see some new smartphones at T-Mobile finally.

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Palm calls it a comeback with the Palm Pre

Posted by comtech3 on January 9, 2009

January 8, 2009 12:50 PM PST

Posted by Tom Krazit

Palm’s new Pre, running its WebOS mobile operating system.

(Credit: Corrine Schulze/CNET)

Palm took one giant step toward regaining its position as a relevant mobile computing company with the introduction of the Palm Pre on Thursday.

If you missed out on Ina Fried’s live coverage of Palm’s press conference in Las Vegas at CES, here are a few basic details about the Pre (rhymes with glee). It’s a touch-screen phone with a slide-out keyboard than runs WebOS, Palm’s long-awaited new operating system formerly code-named Nova.

Sprint will be the exclusive launch carrier for the Pre, which comes with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a 3.1-inch display, GPS, and 8GBs of storage, among other things. Palm did not announce a price for the Pre, but said it should be available some time in the first half of 2009.

Like the Apple’s iPhone, Palm’s Pre has a single button when the slide-out keyboard is shut. Everything on the screen can be controlled by gestures similar to the ones used on the iPhone, and the homescreen has four icons at the bottom for the most frequently used tasks, such as the phone, e-mail, and calendar.

Unlike the iPhone, it has the aforementioned hardware keyboard, and what appears to be a background notification system for applications. Apple has promised to roll out some sort of background notification system that lets applications send notifications to the user when they are running a different application, but they are well past their deadline of September 2008 for doing so.

We’re awaiting many more details on the Pre, such as what it will cost, how application distribution will work, battery life, and multimedia support. Stay tuned for those.

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