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2 years ago

Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo mini-review

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Sony Ericsson’s 2011 line has so far been dominated by devices with one or more standout features. The Xperia Arc was unbelievably slim and light, with an exceptional camera, while the Xperia Play made its debut as the first PlayStation-certified phone. The Xperia Neo, however, sees the manufacturer taking the hardware of the Arc and downscaling it into a more modest and affordable device. The result of its efforts is a solid mainstream smartphone that incorporates most of the Arc’s features, and even surpasses it in some ways.

Read on to find out how the Xperia Neo compares to the mid-range Android competition, as well as shinier, more expensive offerings from the same manufacturer.

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2 years ago

Android Quick App: DocumentsToGo Full

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DocumentsToGo is the stalwart champion of on-the-go file editing. It's been around for a number of years and on a number of handsets and operating systems, be it RIM's BlackBerry or Palm's Palm OS, and as of the inception of our operating system, Android.

DocumentsToGo has a very clean, metallic interface that's easy on the eyes. From the main menu, everything is clearly laid out in front of you. Want to view your starred files? Not a problem. Prefer to be synced with Google Docs? DocumentsToGo supports it.

The plus sign on the bottom left is your one-stop shop for creating a new file. A simple tap on the plus sign brings up a new menu with the options to create a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file. The gear on the bottom right brings up the settings menu, which is also accessible by hitting the menu button on your phone.

Editing a file is a breeze, requiring you only to select it and wait for it to load. I really appreciate how the file editors look in DocumentsToGo, as well. There's a definitely Windows 95 look going on, but it isn't bad at all. It's familiar, which is great. It's also great that when you open a file, it defaults to being zoomed out, so you're able to find what you want to edit it, then zoom in on it, instead of having to zoom out, find, and then zoom in again.

Starred files are a pretty cool, defining characteristic of DocumentsToGo as well, especially if you have a quagmire of files to sort through. If that is you, I'd recommend a laptop or a netbook (or maybe even a tablet!), but know that there's something to help you be better organized than having to sort through long lists of files or go into deeply structured folders on your microSD. This is definitely one of those features I wouldn't mind being ported to the other office products out there.

As mentioned previously, DocumentsToGo supports syncing up with Google Docs, but unfortunately, nothing else. There's no Dropbox integration, no SugarSync, no Box or MobileMe. What Dataviz does give you instead, though, is an actual desktop sync. While it's not as cool as giving you more cloud options (and actually kind of limiting, forcing you to sync with machines the client has been installed on), it's better than nothing. To enable it, you download a Dataviz.exe onto your desktop and set up syncing from there. If Dataviz set up their own cloud syncing between multiple devices, it wouldn't be so bad, but I think to really propel this app to new heights, they should at least add in Dropbox.

At $14.99, Dataviz is asking a bit of a premium for their app. But with its arguably better interface and a more experienced history with mobile editing, this might be the app for you. I do also think if you're going to charge more for a product, you should at least have the same cloud syncing options, but that's just me. As a whole, though, DocumentsToGo offers most (if not all) of the options some will need on the go.

Download links and more pictures are after the break.

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2 years ago

HTC: Bootloader unlocking starts in August

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HTC has updated us all about their bootloader policy for Android phones, and it's all good news.  If you weren't aware, HTC has already announced that they will no longer be locking the bootloaders on their devices.  Tonight, over on its Facebook page, HTC dropped word that the Sensation will be the first to have its bootloader unlocked, followed by the EVO 3D

Here's the full update:

We wanted to provide an update on HTC’s progress with bringing bootloader unlocking to our newest phones. We know how excited some of you are for this capability, and we’ve put significant resources behind making this change as soon as possible. While we wish we could flip a simple switch and unlock all bootloaders across our device portfolio, this is actually a complex challenge that requires a new software build and extensive testing to deliver the best possible customer experience.

We’re thrilled to announce today that software updates to support bootloader unlocking will begin rolling out in August for the global HTC Sensation, followed by the HTC Sensation 4G on T-Mobile USA and the HTC EVO 3D on Sprint. We’re in the testing phase for the unlocking capability now, and we expect it to be fully operational by early September for devices that have received the software updates. We'll continue rolling out the unlocking capability over time to other devices as part of maintenance releases and new shipments.

HTC continues its commitment to unlocking bootloaders and supporting the developer community. Because of the importance of this community to us, please expect an update on this about every few weeks as we make progress toward launch. Thank you for your patience and continued support!

Sure, the wait's a little longer than we all want, but an approximate date is more than we expected.  I'm sure developers and folks with either the HTC Sensation or the HTC EVO 3D are pleased as punch with this decision, as are we here at Android Central.  Nice work, HTC.

Source: Facebook

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2 years ago

Editorial: The EVO 3D shows how updates should be done

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Yes, I said it.  You don't have to be a fan of HTC's products to realize they (and Sprint as well, we suppose) have figured out how to send out updates.  We're not talking the quality of the update here, so simmer down everyone unhappy with their Thunderbolt or EVO 4G after the latest software updates.  Nor are we speaking of the timeliness (or lack thereof) of updates.  Just the methods.  When HTC realized one of their system updates borked the Sense 3.0 lockscreen on the EVO 3D, they simply updated the app themselves, and sent it out to users without getting carriers or anyone else involved.  Same thing they did when they noticed HTC Watch needed a little fixing up.  This is how a manufacturer should handle updates to their own code -- focus on the bug and kill it in-house, then send that sucker out to the users ASAP, over-the-air, with little fanfare or fuss.

Let's compare this to the way other manufacturers are handling updates.  I've yet to see anyone else send out a tiny OTA to fix anything, let alone a bug they introduced from the last OTA.  Hopefully they are all working on it, but all we have to go with is their past actions:

Samsung is one of the biggest offenders here.  They were quick enough with the Honeycomb 3.1 update for those Galaxy Tab 10.1's they gave out at Google I/O, but forcing me to sign up through their app and web store to get it is a giant fail.  It's the same mess I had to go through to get a software update for my television, and I wasn't happy about it then, either.  I get enough junk mail thank you very much.  Don't even get me started on forcing users to use KIES.  If you're lucky enough to have never needed to use it, KIES is a crappy desktop application used to flash software on Samsung phones.  It's difficult for the average user, runs like crap on a Mac, and forces Linux users to run Windows in a VM.  It needs to go die somewhere, and never return.  I wonder how many Vibrant owners just said forget it when it came time for their long awaited Froyo update.  I know I would have, because KIES sucks.

Motorola gets no pass here, either.  There's that whole mess of shipping your Xoom off to get the features posted on the box to work -- whenever that happens.  If something's not ready, you either don't sell it or you don't advertise it as such.  You definitely don't tell users they will have to send it away after they gave you their money.  Fixing the SD card is easy -- easy enough that developers did it in short order for those that root and tinker.  If Toshiba can do it, someone like Motorola who has been building Android gear for a while needs to step it up.  And before you tell me "Google is supposed to fix that" remember this: Google didn't take anyone's money, never integrated SD card support in Honeycomb, and didn't tell you what to put in the spec sheet or on the box.  Send out a new kernel and a little magic to the partitions now, not later.  Take care of your customers first, and deal with Google later.

And the biggest offender?  LG.  They just don't do incremental updates, no matter how badly their products need them.  Battery driver issues on the G2X will get fixed with the Gingerbread update, but in the meantime we're still paying full price on our T-Mobile bill for a phone that doesn't work full time.  Look at the CM7 source tree for a fix if you need to.

Maybe I'm off the mark here, and HTC will go back to forcing users to wait forever for small, but crucial, updates (remember that wake-lock bug on the Hero anyone?), but I'm betting they won't.  With Sense.com and their online services to download and update widgets, and pushing out small application updates outside any official update roadmap, they are winning me back.  Now let's see those unlocked bootloaders we were promised so I can throw money at you until you give me a Sensation.

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2 years ago

Android Quick App: Beautiful Widgets

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If you've watched any of our reviews, seen any of our screenshots, or just been mildly involved in Android since you got your device, you've probably heard about Beautiful Widgets.

Beautiful Widgets, by LevelUp Studio, started off as the first legitimate response to HTC's Sense UI, namely their big, gorgeous clock and weather widget. What Beautiful Widgets has become, however, is a fully customizable, feature-packed app that aims to replace most of the other, non-beautiful widgets on your device.

With Beautiful Widgets, you get an individual toggle switch for most of the basic functions on your phone, like brightness, Wifi, and Bluetooth, but also some more specialized toggles for things like 4G, lock screen pattern, and a timed silence. Pretty cool stuff.

Beautiful Widgets' main attraction, though, is it's series of clock and weather widgets. You can opt for something like the Superclock, which was a newer, higher resolution clock/weather widget for high resolution screens, to a four-day weather forecast, to a single day's forecast, to just showing today's date.

What helps set Beautiful Widgets apart are the variety of skins, all free, user-made skins for the battery, clock, and weather. There are nearly limitless customizations you can do with your homescreens just by changing some skins around.

At ~$2.86, it's definitely not free, but nothing great ever is. If you're into taking full aesthetic control of your device or you just like how some of the skins looks, I wouldn't hesitate to buy Beautiful Widgets. It's one of the staple apps of the Android community and it's updated often, so you'll definitely be getting your money's worth.

Download links and more pictures are after the break.

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2 years ago

Cloud music: Google Music Beta vs. Amazon Cloud Player vs. iTunes in the cloud vs. Microsoft Zune Pass vs. Best Buy Music Cloud

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Apple’s WWDC keynote was earlier this month, and it was largely focused on their new cloud initiative, fittingly named iCloud. One of the big features of iCloud, naturally, is its iTunes integration, giving us another cloud-based music solution to choose from. This comes on the heels of Google and Amazon’s announcements of Music Beta and Cloud Player, respectively. Microsoft's Zune Pass and Best Buy's newly announced Music Cloud service offer additional choices, so consumers have a lot to consider. They are all similar in intent, which is to provide users with an easy way to manage music without having to sync or worry about which device has what music on it. Despite their similarities, they all have glaring differences that users should know about before signing up for any of them. So let’s get right down to it. There are admittedly other viable options, such as personal hosting, but we're going to focus on these five.

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2 years ago

Toshiba Thrive receives an OTA update prior to its release

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Look at what we have here, an update already for the yet to be released Toshiba Thrive, that a few lucky folks have been able to land their hands on. While there is no detailed break down of the update available currently, it does lead us to believe that Toshiba is still hard at work making sure that the device is perfect for the official release. If you have been able to land a Thrive early, have you updated yet, and if so have you noticed any changes? Be sure to let us know all your thoughts and findings in the forums!

Thanks, Ken!

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2 years ago

Android Central Editors' app picks for July 9, 2011

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It's that time of the week again, the time everyone looks forward to, where we give you all the good apps to download on your device. Hit the break with us and take a look at some of our picks from this past week, and hopefully some of them will become your favorites as well.

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