Ten years ago today, 9/9/99, our fearless leader Marcus Adolfsson launched VisorCentral.com - a community providing news, reviews and forums focused on a single product: the Handspring Visor. The Visor, you may recall, was the PDA that was destined to start the smartphone revolution with the VisorPhone.
Ten years later, we have grown from that single small site to a network of seven different communities, each focused on a core brand of smartphone and dedicated to providing everything a user could need or want to know about their smartphone - from news to chat, reviews to ringtones, podcasts to apps, accessories to wallpapers. The Smartphone Experts Network has over 1.8 million members in our forums; on any given day there are thousands of users logged in: finding help, talking about the latest news, reviewing products, and more. We still have plenty of active members that signed up literally within days of our 9/9/99 launch. Millions of visitors every month come to us to find out the latest information for their smartphone.
The only aspect of the HTC Tattoo we have a problem with is the resistive screen. We understand the cost-saving implementation of it but from our experience with resistive screens (think WinMob phones), they simply pale in comparison to capacitive touchscreens (think all other Android phones, iPhone, Palm Pre). Capacitive screens in the mobile space just seem to do a better job in registering touch inputs. Remember, Android isn't built to use with styli, it's a finger-friendly capacitive environment.
Apparently, HTC thinks differently. After unveiling the HTC Tattoo, HTC trumpeted the company line, tweeting, "Capacitive screens at small sizes are hard to be accurate with. Resistive ends up registering fewer miss-clicks." HTC could be right but we'd be more forgiving if HTC admitted it was more a financial move than anything else.
Our biggest issue is that if HTC really wants to mass-market this phone and offer it to everyone worldwide, offering a potentially sub-par Android experience might dissuade people from future HTC Android purchases. Obviously, we're jumping the gun a bit--the resistive screen may still turn out to be a great option for the mass market--but we always felt resistive screens were technology of yore, not 2009.
Bam! Another big hitter just released an application for Android. Pandora just announced that they've released an Android application and it's pretty much a must download for any music loving, Android user. We've already detailed our love for Pandora but we'll say it again, having the ability to fine tune and personalize your own radio station to your musical tastes makes storing music on your phone's hard drive redundant. Streaming music recommendation services are the way to go.
Pandora for Android will work over Wi-Fi, 3G, and even EDGE. It even comes with a home screen widget and allows for background playback. Pandora is available for free on Android Market.
Wait no more, an official Facebook application for Android has been released. Though we've been making do with third-party Facebook applications for Android for quite some time now, we were always green with envy to see other smartphone platforms get official apps while Android got tossed to the side.
In the Facebook application for Android, users can check their news feed, view friends' walls and info, add friends, 'Like' things, post and comment on status updates, take and upload photos, and even check up to 125 friends' phone numbers. Neater features include a shake-to-refresh for the news feed and a notification widget that can be added to the desktop. No Facebook chat yet.
We're not the biggest Facebook users (twitter is our game!) so please share your thoughts regarding the official Facebook application for Android. The Facebook application for Android is available in Android Market for free.
We should note that there are some whispers saying that this Facebook app isn't exactly developed by Facebook. Though Android Market lists the application's developer as Facebook, the official web page of the application states that it wasn't developed by Facebook. Weird. Most likely, the application was developed by Google with Facebook approval.
We've seen the HTC Tattoo before, just in a different name. Previously known as the HTC Click, the Tattoo is a budget minded, low end Android phone that's been officially announced and will be releasing in Europe in early October. What's amazing is that even though it's not targeted for the high-end user (it'll be offered free, after all) the Tattoo will still run HTC Sense.
The downside of the HTC Tattoo? Well, again since it's not targeted for the high-end user, it'll only use a 2.8-inch QVGA(240x320) resistive touchscreen. We know the resistive touchscreen was used to keep costs down but if it's at the expense of user experience, it's a tough pill to swallow. Hopefully the average consumer won't blame the Android OS for hardware shortcomings.
On the bright side, the other specs look magnificent for a mass market device: 528MHz Qualcomm processor, 3.2 megapixel camera, 512MB ROM, 256MB RAM, 3G, quad-band GSM, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, compass and accelerometer. HTC is seriously positioning themselves as the Android phone manufacturer. High-end, low-end, mid-end, anything--they've got it covered.
If you don't remember the HTC Touch HD, we don't fault you. It was a splendidly wonderful, beautifully delicious type device that for some reason or another, did not launch in the US. Our friends at WMExperts had a very brief hands-on video, so if you want a refresher, feel free to click on over. The Touch HD was stunning because the screen (800x480) was simply drop dead gorgeous. But the Touch HD was a downer because it ran Windows Mobile.
So now that you've caught up with the original HTC Touch HD, how would you feel if the HTC Touch HD 2 ran Android? And that's not all, the HTC Touch HD 2 would also receive a CPU speed bump to 628 MHz (from 528 MHz)--all the more to make running Android and HD video off your phone that much easier. Amazing, right?
It's only rumor at this point, and a very weak rumor at that, but just the thought of that HD screen running HTC Sense and Android makes us weak in the knees. We won't even talk about it any further for fear of jinxing the whole deal. Glorious!
LG has been relatively quiet on the Android front, especially when compared to the likes of HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Sure we've heard some reports that LG would eventually make Android phones this year but there hasn't been anything substantial until now: Meet the LG Etna Android phone. The LG Etna was spotted at the IFA trade show in Germany and it quite obviously runs Android (albeit the basic version, no custom UI here).
A few days ago, we caught the leaked pictures of what looked to be an updated Android Market and today Google has made it official. In Android's next update, Android 1.6 Donut, Android Market will receive an update that brings a fresh design and some very important new features, the most important being screeenshots of applications.
We're pretty big fans of the new design--it looks a lot more modern, usable, and seemingly better in every way. The new features of Android Market for developers will also bring in a better user experience--promotional icons, better descriptions, and application screenshots that will let all Android users learn more about the application. Also, four new sub-categories will be added: sports, health, themes and comics.
Unfortunately, no timeline was provided on when we'll be able to use the new Android Market but when Android 1.6 is released to the public you can be sure to check back for our full review!
You lucky, lucky Brits. Already home to more Android devices than us, you guys can now officially purchase the Samsung Galaxy I7500 from O2. Stop by a O2 retail store, head online to o2.co.uk, or even phone in an order to grab Samsung's first Android device. The Samsung Galaxy is a great Android phone that has been kind of swept under the rug in the US (probably because the Lite version has gained traction).
Anyone in UK buying a Samsung Galaxy? Already using one?
Like seemingly every other phone in the world, the HTC Hero will be available at Best Buy. Best Buy Mobile has just announced that they'll be offering up the HTC Hero on October 11th for the same price of $179.99. They'll be the only non-Sprint store that'll sell the Hero so if you have a Best Buy near you but not a Sprint store, you're in luck!
So why is buying the HTC Hero from Best Buy a better deal than buying the phone from a Sprint store? Two words: Instant Rebates. When you buy the Hero from Best Buy the upfront cost is $179.99 (plus applicable fees) as opposed to Sprint retail stores charging you $279.99 with $100 off through mail-in-rebate. The end cost is the same but who wants to deal with mail-in-rebates? Hassle free instant rebates are the way to go
Anyone still buying the Hero from a Sprint retail store?
You can't say Sprint isn't trying. Bleeding money and rumors of downfall can't sink a ship when they continue to bust their behinds trying to get past the rough waters. Translation: Sprint now exclusively has two of the most compelling smartphone options on the market. How could we have written them off? They're just getting down to business.
The Palm Pre and HTC Hero--both are magnificent phones in their own right but more specifically, they're the best options on their respective platforms--on one network. We know a HTC Hero on Verizon or AT&T or the Android-friendly T-Mobile would work better for a lot more people (us included) but we absolutely love how Sprint goes and grabs the best phones available.
So the question we have for you guys, how do you feel about the HTC Hero on Sprint? Would it make you switch? Does it make you stay? How is the Sprint network for you? Love it or hate it, let us know in the comments!
As for us, we've never been a Sprint customer (we rock AT&T and T-Mobile at the Android Central HQ) but we're so excited to see the HTC Hero (and its redesign) in the states that we're deeply contemplating a switch.
If you remember, the T-Mobile Pulse is a device built by Huawei and packs a 3.5 inch touchscreen, 3.2 megapixel camera (with autofocus), WiFi, GPS, etc. What makes the T-Mobile Pulse offering unique on T-Mobile UK is that it'll be the first Android device to be officially sanctioned as a Pay-As-You-Go device (PAYG). We're sure T-Mobile UK customers would be happy to hear that.
T-Mobile UK now has three different Android devices. The T-Mobile G1, G2 Touch (HTC Hero), and the T-Mobile Pulse. We got a feeling that they like Android and love to rebrand their phones.
What do you guys think? Would you want a pay-as-you-go Android phone in the US?
The Samsung Behold 2 passed through the Bluetooth SIG and came out with a spec sheet detailing that it'll likely run Android. To quote the description:
The Samsung SGH-T939 is a GSM phone, featuring a 3.2″ AMOLED full touch screen and WiFi connectivity, giving users access to Google Mobile services and full web browsing at blazing speeds.”
We're pretty sure you guys had no idea that the original Behold was so successful that it warranted a sequel (we didn't) but if the Behold 2 runs Android, this may be one of the few times the sequel is better than the original (the original ran Samsung's own OS). Regardless, we're confused on why Samsung would want to use the Behold brand name for a new device and direction--why boggle yourself down with a device name no one remembers?
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