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3 years ago

Sony Xperia Z hands-on

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Sony's first high-end phone of 2013 brings to the table a 1080p display and a glass-backed chassis

Sony Mobile has spent much of the past couple of years struggling to reach parity with the leading Android manufacturers. Whether it was hardware or software, it seemed Sony offerings were always one step behind competing phones from HTC and Samsung. In 2011, the single-core Xperia Arc was pitted against the dual-core HTC Sensation and Galaxy S2. A year later, the story repeated itself with the Xperia S, which at launch ran a year-old Snapdragon S3 processor and a year-old version of Android. Despite some really interesting designs from Sony, the overall experience sometimes seemed lacking compared to the competition. Even the Xperia T, by all accounts a perfectly decent piece of hardware, missed out on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at launch last October.

But Sony’s still hanging in there. It recently became the number two Android OEM in the UK. And though it’s yet to make much of a dent in the U.S. market, at least it’s got devices for sale on a major national carrier, which is more than can be said for some of the smaller Android players.

So that’s where we are in the lead-up to the Xperia Z announcement. Unveiled just three months after the Xperia T launched, the Z is a device that shows Sony isn’t resting on its laurels, at least when it comes to hardware. It’s right up there with the fastest, most beautiful smartphone hardware available, and frankly, that’s a first for Sony.

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3 years ago

Teaching kids with Big Bird, smartphones and augmented reality

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I'll admit it -- I've rolled my eyes and filled up my e-mail's trash can and the hundreds and hundreds of mentions of "augmented reality" -- that technology that uses your phone's camera and puts cool things on the screen, on top of real life. But maybe I've been looking at it all wrong. It's not all about goofy symbols and flashing signs for places to go and putting funny faces on people.

Qualcomm's showing off "Big Bird's Words" here at CES. The app uses the Qualcomm Vuforia system for an interesting way to help children expand their vocabulary. (We'll forget, for the moment, that you're letting your child play with an expensive smartphone here.) The idea is that the app puts a word on the screen, and your kid has to find that word somewhere in the house. Say, on that particular object. (There's no reason it couldn't also do the same with the object itself, we suppose, but this one's about the words.) Get it right, and Big Bird applauds you. Get it wrong and, well -- there are no losers here. C'mon, it's for kids!

The big deal here is that Vuforia has added word recognition to its stables. Big Bird is just one example, of course. Check out the demo video above, and imagine the possibilities.

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3 years ago

Sprint to introduce local FM Radio on selected smartphones later in the year

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FM radio may not be top of the shopping list when shopping for a new smartphone, but nevertheless it's a feature many want to have. Sprint is jumping into the FM radio space having today announced a preliminary agreement with the American radio industry. It will enable Sprint customers to listen to local FM radio content on a range of their new smartphones starting later this year. 

All this is made possible by what Sprint refers to as NextRadio, which it also says will offer a range of interactive listener features not currently available -- although what those are remains a mystery. The announcement marks the first time a U.S. carrier will offer FM radio across a whole range of its devices. Demonstrations of NextRadio are taking place this week at CES in Las Vegas. The full press release can be found after the break. 

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3 years ago

Jelly Bean rolling out to the HTC One X on Rogers

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HTC continues to roll out Jelly Bean to the One X across the globe, and right now folks on Rogers in Canada get their turn. You can check for the update in the settings menu (Settings > About phone > System software updates) and 635MB later you'll have Sense 4.1+ on an Android 4.1.1 base. 

As a One X user myself, I highly recommend you do this one. Google Now and project butter make this a great update to an already great phone.

Source: MobileSyrup. Thanks, Jonathan!

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3 years ago

Hisense unveils the 55 and 65 inch XT780 with integrated Google TV

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Hisense is one of those OEM's that you may not have heard much about, but is a more household name in some corners of the globe. They first dipped their toes into the Google TV world with the Pulse set-top box, first announced back at IFA 2012 in Berlin. Now they have returned with their next Google TV hardware, and it's a little different this time around. 

Unveiled at CES in Las Vegas, the XT780 has Google TV integrated within. No set-top box this time. The XT780 will be available in both 55 and 65 inch variants, and as far as TVs go, it's a pretty handsome looking thing. With Google TV comes the usual sort of pre-loaded apps like Pandora, Netflix, Chrome browser and the Google Play Store. There's no mention of what kind of horsepower this TV is packing to run Google TV, or pricing and availability information at this time. The full press release can be found after the break. 

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3 years ago

Viewsonic VSD240 Smart Display eyes-on

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Best known for making displays for computers, Viewsonic is showing off the new version of its "Smart Display" line, the VSD240, at CES 2013. You'll here Phil say it at the start of the video -- you really can't call this a tablet. Viewsonic is positioning this as a display that you can use for your computer or other device, but just have Android available for when you want it. It's a 24-inch 1920x1080 multitouch display, with a full array of ports on the back for connectivity -- from USB to HDMI. Viewsonic tells us that the final model will be available with a DVI pass-through as well, which will let you power another display out of it.

On the Android side, we're pretty much just looking at a "tablet" install of Jelly Bean 4.1, with not very many customizations that we could see. Pulling up the keyboard is quite comical, actually, as it's just the tablet one scaled up. We're looking at a 1.7GHz Tegra 3 chip powering this thing, and it seemed quite fast especially compared to the previous model. There's also 16GB of storage on-board, which is nice.

Viewsonic expects this to come to market under $500, which is pretty competitive for a large multitouch monitor even without a full install of Android on it. Stick around after the break to see a quick eyes- and hands-on with the Smart Display, as well as a quick shot of the port selection on the back.

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3 years ago

Relive the NVIDIA CES press conference in its entirety

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Of course, we know you all joined us live from the NVIDIA press conference on Sunday, and what a show it turned out to be. Plenty of exciting stuff to nerd out on came our way -- Tegra 4, NVIDIA Grid, that sweet demo of the amazing looking Dead Trigger 2, and of course, Project Shield

And now, NVIDIA has posted the press conference in it entirety online for us to enjoy at our leisure -- posted above for everybody. See all the official introductions for yourselves, and then be sure to check out our hands on coverage. We're pretty excited about it all. If you didn't get that impression yet, you might want to head back and check out the post-event podcast with Phil, Alex and Simon. 

More: Hands on with Project Shield, NVIDIA Grid

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3 years ago

Verizon chief McAdam thinks ending phone subsidies is a 'great thing'

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About a month ago  Deutsche Telekom AG announced that T-Mobile USA would completely stop subsidising phones in 2013, and instead continue to offer what equates to interest free financing. The bright side for us as consumers is that the monthly bill gets cheaper because there is no equipment to pay for, and it makes it easy to bring your own device. Today the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Verizon Chief Executive Lowell McAdam is pretty interested in how all this will play out, and thinks it is "a great thing".

While he may like the idea of ending subsidies (what CEO wouldn't like to cut out a costly policy) he is not very sure that the customers will bite. AT&T Mobility Chief Ralph de la Vega also said that they are watching the T-Mobile strategy, and AT&T could make a similar move if it becomes popular.

As it stands now, neither of the big two US carriers think customers like the idea of paying for their own phone and saving money monthly. With good reason -- people hate change, and people hate spending hundreds of dollars in up front costs. But if Verizon (or AT&T) would cut back on the monthly fees like T-Mobile has done, we think this would be a great thing as well. 

What say you? Holler in the comments.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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3 years ago

First look: NVIDIA Grid gaming server on an HTC One X

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One of the more esoteric toys NVIDIA brought to CES this year is its new NVIDIA Grid server rack. For a good many of use, there might as well be little green hamsters running on little green wheels inside these rather cool-looking racks. (Don't ever let anyone tell you NVIDIA doesn't put a little style into what it does.) But the bottom line is that this is a rack of 20 servers, with some 240 GPUs, capable at cranking out some 200 teraflops of gaming to your smartphone or tablet. OK, not just yours. Lots of them. At once. You're not going to be buying this -- major gaming corporations will.

But that doesn't mean we didn't get a chance to actually see it in action. NVIDIA's got Grid rigged up at its booth here at CES, feeding a number of devices. We took a quick look at it pumping out some console-quality gaming to an HTC One X. The results were pretty darn good. (Especially considering a couple handicaps our demonstrator had to deal with. You'll see in the video.)

All in all, NVIDIA Grid looks to very much be a viable service for getting games to all your devices, without actually having to have the games on your devices. Check it out after the break.

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3 years ago

Firefox for Android updated with better JavaScript performance and more

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Mozilla has updated Firefox for Android, and mixed in with the rest of the changes is a new JIT JavaScript compiler known as IonMonkey, which claims that it will allow web apps and games will run up to 25-percent faster. We all love faster. Of course, that's not the only change under the hood. The browser is now able to be used with the Google Now search widget, meaning if you do a search Firefox is listed as a way to carry it out. Another neat new feature is integration with "Safe Browsing." We've all seen notes from Google that a website we want to visit may be "harmful to your computer", and now that same database is in use in Firefox for Android. There is also a handful of boring but essential bug fixes and tweaks.

Firefox for Android has come a long way, and it's well worth trying again if you were unsatisfied with it in the past. It's becoming my browser of choice on Android for general web-surfing. It's free (of course), grab it at the link above.

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3 years ago

iRig Recorder coming to Android at the end of January

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IK Multimedia has announced that they are bringing the iRig Recorder app to Android. iRig Recorder is a great and ultra-portable way to record audio on the go, and editing and export options make for a powerful piece of software. Combined with their hardware -- 3.5mm compatible microphones and  a 3.5mm to XLR conversion dongle -- you can get darn near professional quality recordings saved right to your Android device. This is great news for musicians and anyone doing field work that requires high quality recording.

Accessory companies have been notoriously slow to embrace Android. We get it -- it's hard to justify all the work when you're making money hand over fist from iOS devices. But the numbers are too big to ignore forever, and it's great to see companies that want to support the most popular computing platform in the world. Look for the iRig app in Google Play at the end of the month, priced at $4.99 for the full version. The press release is after the break.

More: IK Multimedia

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3 years ago

Mobile Nations 2013 CES Experience Day 2: Let's Hit the Strip!

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The second day of the Mobile Nations 2013 CES Experience started out with a lot of sightseeing. After leaving the accommodations at the Rio, our team made it to Paris, Planet Hollywood, the Bellagio, the Cosmopolitan and Caesar's Palace…Eyes were wide and a great time was had by all.

Hit the link below for some cool photos from the day, along with a wrap up on the evening of day 2!

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3 years ago

Mobile Nations at CES 13: Day zero

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Once again Mobile Nations has assembled at CES, and we've come together with the Cell Phone Junkie to talk NVIDIA's Project Shield, 4K (2160p) televisions, giant phones, low-end phones, and all the rest of the news -- and the show hasn't even officially started yet!

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3 years ago

Alcatel introduces One Touch Evo7 HD tablet with Jelly Bean and 4G capabilities

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Not content with releasing 5 smartphones so far this week, Alcatel is also today announcing the launch of a new tablet with cellular data capabilities. The One Touch Evo7 HD is a 7-inch tablet, that can be upgraded to 3G/4G via a removable data module that can be installed or removed to each users desires. 

Spec wise, the Evo7 HD will run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean over the top of a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with a quad-core GPU. It's pretty thin and light, coming in at just 10mm thick and weighing 12.35oz. There's a push on individualizing your tablet too with a full set of accessories coming to market with the tablet, such as flip covers, pouches, and colored frames to change the appearance of the tablet. Sadly we're not treated to any information regarding on board storage at this time, and while the specs we do know aren't going to set the world alight, the Evo7 HD could be a solid budget offering at the right price. 

As with their smartphones, Alcatel will be showing off the One Touch Evo7 HD at this weeks CES 2013 event in Las Vegas. The full press release can be found after the break. 

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3 years ago

Alcatel announces new Scribe HD LTE and 1080p Scribe X

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Following yesterdays announcement of three new Android smartphones from Alcatel, they're back again today with the announcement of another 2 -- the Scribe HD LTE and the Scribe X. 

The Scribe HD LTE looks to be the same device as the Scribe HD that was announced yesterday, but with the added bonus of 4G LTE data capabilities. It's a 5 inch device with a quad-core processor and Jelly Bean. Not bad. 

The Scribe X is a pretty interesting looking device. It's a much higher end smartphone from Alcatel, and packs some extremely competitive specifications. Like the Scribe HD LTE, the Scribe X has a 5 inch display, but this one is a full HD 1080p resolution display. It's packing a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, with a 12MP rear camera and a 720p capable front facing camera. We're also promised a bevy of creative features and accessories centered around creating movies, editing photos and wireless sharing to your TV. 

We're lacking any information on RAM, storage and battery size at this time, but on the face of what we do know, the Scribe X can potentially go toe-to-toe with the newly announced Sony Xperia Z.

Both are to be shown off for the first time during the ongoing CES 2013 show in Las Vegas, and the full press release can be found after the break. 

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