We mentioned last month that the folks at Skyfire were working on a big update that would bring a new set of features as well as a new pricing model, and today is the day it becomes available. There was some talk about that pricing model, so let's get that cleared up right away. All the features you currently use in Skyfire will remain free. The pricing revolves around what they're calling CAAS (Compression As AService). It uses Google's new Android in-app purchasing to pay for "video cloud acceleration". Pay a one time fee of $2.99 and Skyfire renders and compresses video content on their servers, which offers up a more mobile optimized experience and saves both data usage and battery life. Now before you start grumbling, Skyfire also says the three million of you who currently use Skyfire are grandfathered in and there will be no charge. In addition, users who download Skyfire 4.0 through the VCast apps section of the Market n your Verizon phones will also get the service free. Now we can all grumble a little bit at content deals, but not too much. $2.99 isn't a bad price at all if you need to watch your data usage.
Along with the improved cloud acceleration, some other changes come along, notably Groupon, Twitter and Google Reader support. There's a few changes in the SkyBar as well -- check them out, along with some screencaps and the press release, after the break.
Samsung and Verizon have "officially" unveiled the Samsung Droid Charge (see our hands-on from CES), making it available April 28 for $299.99 with a two-year agreement. It will be the second LTE device to hit big red, and I know a lot of folks are waiting for that sweet 4.3 inch SAMOLED plus screen and 4G speeds.
Also from the press release, the @droidlanding scavenger hunt kicks off today offering up 16 chances to find and win one of these beauties. So be sure to keep an eye on Twitter, and possibly save yourself a few dollars. Hit the break for the full press release. [Samsung USA Newsroom]
With no fanfare, The W8 Walkman phone appeared on Sony Ericsson's website today. The phone runs Android (like all the cool phones do now-a-days), and for all intents and purposes is a re-worked Xperia X8 -- including still being stuck on Eclair (Android 2.1). For now, SE warns that availability will be limited, and the W8 is set to be released in Asia sometime in Q2.
Since we've already gone hands-on with the Samsung Replenish from Sprint and we've also taken the time to give it an initial review, that means one of the only thing left to do for now was give it a run through for benchmarking purposes. As we're sure you already know, the Samsung Replenish isn't exactly a powerhouse so we weren't expecting a whole lot from it but what we did get we were pleasantly surprised with. Go ahead, check out the video and try to ignore the fact that Phil has a awesome looking sandwich and booze in front of him and you don't.
In case you've been wondering what tablets, aside from the Motorola Xoom may be heading towards Canada we have some unconfirmed but nonetheless nice rumors for you. The above image is a comparison chart, which according to the details is an internal document from Rogers outlining the differences between the iPad 2, LG Optimus Pad and the Huawei S7 tablets. While there isn't even any rumored launch dates for the Huawei S7, it looks as though Rogers may be seeing the LG Optimus Pad as early as May 10 as an exclusive device to their network. That's all for now but we'll let you know more when the information becomes available. [Mobile Syrup]
Honeycomb finds itself on a double threat: Thin, light Android tablet doubles as a capable Android laptop
Is it a tablet? Is it a netbook? Is it a tablet? Is it a netbook? Is it a laptop? What, exactly, is the ASUS EeePad Transformer? Sitting here with it on my lap, typing away on the full keyboard, it's easy to forget that I'm using an Android Honeycomb tablet. With a keyboard. And a trackpad. Like a laptop. With Honeycomb.
So here's the general idea: The Transformer is a 10.1-inch tablet running Android 3.0.1, the most recently released version of Honeycomb. It's got a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor running at 1GHz. Sound familiar? It should, as those are specs shared by the Motorola Xoom, the first (and until now the only) available Honeycomb tablet. But the Transformer gets its name from the optional keyboard accessory. And it's not a Bluetooth keyboard. It's not using some janky tethering system. It's a full-fledged (if slightly undersized) laptop-style keyboard, complete with hinge, that turns the not-so-mild-mannered Android tablet into so much more.
We've heard it before -- tablets are killing netbooks. There's no reason to carry around a full-size laptop anymore. And so on and so forth. Neither statement is true. But whereas other tablet-keyboard combinations have come up short, the ASUS EeePad Transformer (henceforth to be referred to by its surname) is the most viable Android laptop we've seen yet. Our full review's after the break.
Here we go, folks, your first hands-on with the ASUS EeePad Transformer. It's an Android tablet. And an Android laptop. It's a Honeycomb tablet. And a Honeycomb laptop. Hell, we can't decide which to call it.
Fact of the matter is, the EeePad Transformer is one hell of an Android tablet and laptop, which is saying something considering the number of Honeycomb tablets out there, which isn't all that great.
Anyhoo, check out our hand-on video above and be sure to check out our further coverage.
Sometimes you just have to have that desktop experience. I use a laptop for my everyday computer. But when I can, I use it in the more traditional sense -- with a full keyboard and mouse -- plus a nice, big second monitor. And that's another feature that we're loving in the ASUS EeePad Transformer -- proper USB support.
The Transformer's got not one but two USB 2.0 ports for you to use on the keyboard dock. (There's another reason to shell out the extra $149, eh?) Friend or a co-worker have something to show you on a flash drive? Just pop it in. Want to use a USB keyboard or mouse? Go right ahead.
And it's that simple. You just plug them in, and they work.
So now that we've written a word or three (thousand) about the ASUS EeePad Transformer's life as a Honeycomb laptop, let's put it up against one of our old netbooks, the 10-inch ASUS EeePC 1000HE.
And what a difference a couple years makes, eh? On the Eee PC you've got an Intel Atom N280 processor at 1.66GHz. The EeePad Transformer sports an NVIDIA Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor. They've both got 1GB of RAM, but the Eee PC's can (and should) be upgraded to 2GB. And, of course, the Transformer runs Android 3.0 Honeycomb while the Eee PC sports Windows XP (or Windows 7 if you feel like upgrading).
The Eee PC wins in the storage department, with a 160GB hard drive. The Transformer has to make do with either 16GB or 32GB.
But it's the size that really knocks you out of the park. The Eee PC is downright portly when compared to the Transformer. It's like comparing a Macbook Air to that 7-pound monster laptop your day job forces you to carry around.
Update: US Cellular says this date is not correct and that the Merge will launch "later this spring."
Looks like HTC's comments about the HTC Merge arriving on "multiple carriers" really is starting to ring true. With Alltel and Cellular South already on the list we can also now check of US Cellular as the above image shows us all a release date of April 29. We will of course, wait to see if that date pans out given that we're not exactly sure of how old the information may be but -- we're pretty confident it will arrive sooner then later. Until then, check out our previous coverage of the HTC Merge
For our complete exclusive preview of the HTC Merge, please see the following stories:
Although we've known for quite some time about the Sprint Motorola Xoom and Samsung Nexus S 4G, one thing about both of those devices that still eludes us seemingly is the launch date. We've seen some rumors here and there but overall, nothing official has made it out. That said, the latest Sprint playbook now has employee training dates listed in it, which leads us to believe launch is only just around the corner. Hopefully after "school" gets out, we'll have a more specific date for you all but until then -- we're fine with knowing things are still moving for both these devices. [via the Android Central app]Thanks, anon!
We can't read too much into this, but an Android Central forums member with a good eye for detail caught this one on Google. Seems if you search "HTC Sensation" ( if you haven't already, watch the videos HTC has posted) you just might see a sponsored link from HTC.com that has the June 8 date there plain as day. Some of us here around the water cooler can see the sponsored link, some of us can't -- so don't fret if you're not seeing it either. But trust us, it's there. Could it be more than just a typo or a placeholder date? Your guess is as good as ours, but in either case it's worth having a look at. Take a look, and hit the forums to discuss!Thanks, Captain Marvelous!
Although it was a timid day for device news, we did manage to get some hands-on time with the fresh, and green Samsung Replenish from Sprint -- which of course comes with that uber cool solar powered battery cover. Be sure to check that out, if you've not done so already. In the forums, we've got some excited Atrix users, frustrated Thunderbolt users and plenty of folks just looking to talk Android love -- jump on in.
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