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4 years ago

Hands-on with the ASUS Qube Google TV box

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Asus spilled the beans on its newest Qube Google TV box earlier today, and now we've got our hands on it. With what we think may be the most interesting design to hit Google TV since... well, ever, the Qube seems promising. As far as the details go, things are a little sparse. We know it's running the current Google TV software with all of the amenities like Chrome and Youtube, and that the Qube will include 50GB of free storage from WebStorage.

Although the unit we got ahold of isn't working, we did get a solid feel for the connectivity options. You've got a full-sized USB port on the right side -- presumably for quick access to plug in drives and other devices -- and everything else is on the back. The back plate sports HDMI in and out -- for TV pass through -- as well as ethernet and another full-sized USB port. An analog in/out jack rounds out the group. The remote is a standard Google TV setup, with a little bit of "Nexus" flare in the coloring. There's also a full QWERTY keyboard on the back that seems to work well, which is important for the browsing-heavy Google TV interface.

Overall ilt seems well built enough, with a striking design to say the least. We're hoping to have more time with the Qube while we're at CES, hopefully with one that is actually hooked up to a TV. For now, take a quick walk through the hardware with us in the video and several more pictures of the Qube after the break.

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4 years ago

Qualcomm announces new Snapdragon chips that are fast as hell

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As expected, mobile hardware and component companies are pouring out the new gear announcements at CES. And not to be missed is the new chips in the pipe from Qualcomm. Dubbed the Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800, on paper it looks like they will knock our socks off.

First out of the gate will be the 600 series, expected in commercial devices in the middle of this year. Take the S4 Pro that's in the Nexus 4 or DNA, and make everything better and you are on the right track. The 600 will feature:

  • Quad Core Krait 300 CPU at speeds up to 1.9 GHz per core
  • Adreno 320 GPU
  • LPDDR3 RAM support
  • Up to 40-percent better performance than the Snapdragon S4 Pro processor

Now remember, we will see this one in devices this summer, not sometime next year. And being 40-percent faster than the Nexus 4 in my pocket means the device is going to be a monster. Once you process this one (pardon the pun) you have the 800 to think about. Take the 600 you're drooling over, and take everything up to 11. It features:

  • Quad Core Krait 400 CPU at speeds up to 2.3 GHz, per core
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 2x32bit LPDDR3 RAM at 800MHz
  • 4G LTE Cat 4 and 802.11ac support
  • UltraHD resolution support  (4096 × 2304)
  • Support for DTS-HD, Dolby Digital Plus and 7.1 surround sound
  • Dual Image Signal Processors (ISPs) up to 55MP
  • Up to 75% better performance than the Snapdragon S4 Pro

It's hard to imagine how all this is going to translate into real world use. Numbers on paper excite some folks, and these are sure to get some impressive numbers. But this much more raw power will be noticeable in everyday usage as well. It's also said to be available in commercial devices in mid 2013.

And we can't wait to see it. Hit the break to read the press release.

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4 years ago

HTC One SV hands-on (Cricket Wireless)

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Ladies and gentlemen, meet the HTC One SV. One S, meet the people. What you see before you here is the second of a pair of entry-level(ish) phones from HTC in recent weeks. This one's on Cricket Wireless. Its cousin, the HTC One VX, is on AT&T. 

The One SV, while simple, is very nicely designed. It's not quite a solid piece of kit, but chances are you might not notice. While the battery cover comes off, there's no obvious notch to get a fingernail into. Pry it open, though, and you get the power source, SIM card and microSD card slot. You'll need that microSD card, as there's just 5 GB of storage available in the phone for apps and pictures and what-not. 

But, really, it's not the specs, which won't overwhelm you -- it's the no-contract pricing of $349 (which is the way you think you should buy phones), plus Cricket's data plans and Muve music that make the One SV a rather attractive device. It'll be available January 16.

We've got more pics and video after the break.

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4 years ago

Hands-on with the Huawei Ascend Mate

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We've just wrapped up at the Huawei press conference here at CES 2013 in Las Vegas where the Chinese OEM announced the Ascend Mate. This device has been rumored some time as the super large competitor to the likes of the Galaxy Note II and Optimus Vu, and Huawei didn't disappoint when it announced this 6.1-inch behemoth. As you would expect, the Ascend Mate is borderline when it comes to what we call a "phone," but they're positioning it as such nonetheless.

The hardware on this device is quite a departure from previous Huawei phones, stepping up to a stainless steel frame and solid plastic accents. Even the power and volume keys are stainless, and set well into the frame. The 6.1-inch screen is surprisingly manageable considering its size, thanks to very small bezels and on-screen navigation buttons, but this is far from one-handed use friendly. The panel itself is only 720x1280, although at first we thought it must be a typo because there really aren't any noticeable pixels. It's just a bit puzzling considering it's sibling the Ascend D2 has a 1080x1920 display at just 5-inches. Nevertheless, under the hood we see the same specs as the D2, with a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.

On the software front, Huawei has also made some big changes coming from its previous builds. This is its "Emotion UI" set of customizations, which combines many of the stock Jelly Bean features, with its own added tweaks and style. In the keynote, CEO Richard Yu noted that their software has "fixed 200 problems with Android." This is indeed Jelly Bean 4.1.2 under the hood, but it doesn't necessarily feel like it in normal navigation. Most items have received visual tweaks -- from the app icons to the settings menu -- and Huawei has even opted to remove an app drawer from its default launcher. It's something quickly fixed from a download in the Play Store, but it hurts this device's out-of-the-box appeal for some.

The Ascend Mate is expected to launch in China starting in February, with international availability thereafter. There was no pricing given, but Mr. Yu explained that the devices would be for sale to other markets online.

Be sure to stick around after the break to take a look at several pictures and a hands-on video we've got for you straight from CES.

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4 years ago

Hands-on with the Huawei Ascend D2

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Huawei edged into the high-end smartphone space in 2012 with its Ascend D1 series, and it's following up this year with a large-screened, high-resolution successor, the Ascend D2. Powered by a custom 1.4GHz quad-core processor, the Ascend D2. With a 5-inch 1080p screen, the D2 is aimed firmly at current competition from the better-known manufacturers, including HTC's Droid DNA.

The D2's build quality is a substantial step up from earlier Huawei handset. There's glossy plastic around the back, but the trim is constructed of stainless steel, and a video shown at Huawei's Las Vegas press conference today showed the complexities involved in crafting the frame for this device.

The star of the show is the 5-inch display, which runs at 1080p resolution and goes toe-to-toe with the screen of the Droid DNA, which we compared in our hands-on video. Being an early demo unit, it was difficult to judge the handset's overall performance, but we can offer a few thoughts on the software. On top of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the D2 runs Huawei's emotion UI. This brings a curved, MIUI-like appearance to the OS, along with a few quirks like the launcher, which lacks a traditional app drawer.

The Ascend D2 is slated to launch in China and Europe in Q1, and with the hardware inside this device, Huawei's in a strong position. However, it remains to be seen whether the smartphone-buying masses will fall in love with its unconventional Emotion UI.

Check out our hands-on video above for a quick walkthrough, and stick around after the break for even more pictures of the device (including a side-by-side with the Droid DNA.)

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4 years ago

Sony announces Xperia Z, a 5" flagship with 1080p reality display

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New Sony flagship features 1080p screen, 13MP camera, and reality display

It's been leaked and rumored over the past several weeks, but today the Sony Xperia Z is official. At its CES 2013 press conference this afternoon, the company announced a new flagship smartphone with large, high-resolution display. The Xperia Z packs a 5-inch 1080p Full HD Reality display, and runs Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU with 2GB of RAM.

Design highlights for this device include a high-level of dust and water resistance, and a an all-glass back, similar to recent efforts from LG. The Xperia Z will launch globally in Q1 2013

We're live at the Sony booth at CES 2013, and we'll be bringing you hands-on coverage of the Xperia Z very soon, so stay tuned. Go past the break for the press release and a bevy of hands-on pictures.

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4 years ago

Hands on with NVIDIA's 'Project Shield'

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We get our first look at NVIDIA's Tegra 4 processor, and the future of Android gaming 

It's hard not to get excited about NVIDIA's "Project Shield," the Android-based hand-held gaming system it unveiled this week at CES in Los Vegas. For one, it's really the biggest piece of news thus far. And for another -- it's just friggin' cool. NVIDIA has taken the traditional gaming-style controller, packed its brand-new Tegra 4 system inside of it, added a 5-inch, clamshell 720p display (NVIDIA's calling it "retinal") and added some truly astonishing gameplay. Consider:

  • It's running a relatively stock user interface. The nerds love that.
  • It runs any Android app. If it works on a phone or tablet now, it should work on Project Shield.
  • There's one-touch access to NVIDIA's "Tegra Zone," a curated section of Android applications tweaked specifically for NVIDIA's processors.
  • Steam. If you play a game on Steam, you can play it here, too.
  • PC gaming. NVIDIA's been showing off this tech for some time now, and it's really dialed in here. Your gaming rig does the heavy lifting, beaming the video to Project Shield, which also serves as the controller.

It's not without some hurdles in the way of success (what is), but, yeah. We're excited.

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4 years ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 LTE coming to Verizon 'this month'

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We're live at the Samsung CES 2013 press conference, and while there's been a whole lot of TV's and refrigerators, there was a small piece of Android goodness slipped in there for good measure. Following on from UK Carrier, EE, Samsung has today announced that the Galaxy Note 10.1 LTE will be launched on Verizon "this month." 

No pricing was announced, but this is sure to be good news for anyone with a hankering to pair up Samsung's S-Pen based tablet, with some 4G LTE data speeds. The press conference has just ended, and that's all she wrote on the Android front. 

The full press release can be found after the break.

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4 years ago

Live from Samsung's CES press event!

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We're live this afternoon from Samsung's official CES 2013 press conference. Expect a slew of non-smartphone news -- TVs, washers and dryers, etc., but chances are mobile won't be completely ignored. Samsung does sell a few phones and tablets, after all.

The whole thing kicks off at 2 p.m. Pacific time (that's 5 p.m. on the East Coast). Join us after the break!

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4 years ago

Huawei makes Ascend Mate and Ascend D2 official

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At the Huawei press event in Vegas today, the Ascend Mate and Ascend D2 have been made official. We've seen and heard enough rumors to know they were coming, but our first real look at the phones leaves us pretty impressed. 

The Mate, billed as the Largest Screen Smartphone (at 6.1-inches nobody can argue that) is being touted as the ultimate all in one device, with a big screen that is still portable, and will replace a laptop, phone, and camera with one convergent device.

The Ascend D2 (no Quad on this one) is the Most Powerful Smartphone, and has a 5-inch 443 ppi display. A 13MP camera and giant 3000mAh battery that gives two day battery life round it out as a real super phone for 2013.  We're on site and will certainly have a closer look at these. Both press releases are after the break. Stay tuned!

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4 years ago

Intel announces new 'Lexington' platform aimed at emerging markets

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The Intel CES 2013 press conference is in full swing, and they came out of the box swinging by jumping straight into their new smartphone news. Intel debuted the Medfield platform at last year's CES, along with a reference device, and this year is no different. There's a new platform, and a new reference device, but a different aim. 

The new Atom Z2420, codenamed Lexington, is aimed at the emerging markets such as India with a view to hitting the value markets. Intel says that Lexington is a no-compromise platform, and runs an optimized version of Android in just the same way as the 2012 Medfield devices. The reference device certainly reflects the "value" proposition, containing a 3.5 inch HVGA 430x320 display, but still contains a HSPA+ 21mbps modem. 

In line with desirable features in the targeted markets, Intel has included support for FM radio and dual-SIM devices. MicroSD card support is included, as is wireless display. It supports 1.3MP and 5MP front and rear cameras respectively, and like the Medfield platform, this includes a fast shot "burst mode." Video recording at 1080p and 30fps will be supported by the rear camera. 

Initial partners for the Lexington platform include Lava, SafariCom and Acer, with details coming on the devices from each later on in Q1. 

Value wasn't all she wrote though. While Lexington is the main focus, Intel did drop a hint at what's on the horizon for their more high end offerings. Following from last year's Medfield will be the new Clover Trail+ for smartphones. The Clover Trail+ will be Intel's first dual-core processor for Android devices, based on the Atom Z2580. Intel's performance and battery life on a single-core chip is impressive, so we're looking forward to seeing how the platform advances in 2013. 

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4 years ago

Monday Brief: Mobile Nations @ CES 2013!

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4 years ago

Live from Huawei's CES 2013 press conference

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We're live at CES 2013 in Las Vegas, and next on today's Android-packed schedule is the Huawei press conference. The Chinese manufacturer is expected to announce new Android and Windows Phone devices, including a successor to the Ascend D1 Quad, the Ascend D2, and a ridiculous 6.1-inch phone, the Ascend Mate. On the Windows side, we're expecting Huawei's first Windows Phone 8 device, the Ascend W1.

The presentation kicks off at 1pm PT (4pm ET), and we'll be covering the event live. Check past the break for our liveblog of Huawei at CES!

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4 years ago

Hands-on with the Pantech Discover on AT&T

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There's a good chance if you're reading this that the Pantech Discover is not for you. And that's cool. It's for your mom. Or your granddad. It's a first-timer device, with a first-timer price of $49 on contract with AT&T. And you know what? Pantech's done a pretty good job with it. 

Think of this as a large smartphone for someone who doesn't want, well, a Galaxy S3 or HTC One X on AT&T. But that doesn't mean it's not stylish. Start with a large, 4.8-inch 720p display. Nothing wrong with that. And Pantech blissfully diverges from the typical black-slap design, bringing some graceful curves to the textured back of the phone, with speakers tucked on either side. Haven't seen Samsung do that, have ya? (And those speakers sound pretty good, even in a crowded room.)

But the more interesting part of the Pantech Discover is the work that's gone into the custom user interface. It's built on Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, and there actually are two UIs. Samsung's done this already, of course, but Pantech takes simple to a whole new level. Multiple home screens are pared down to one. The main home screen is nearly idiot-proof. Gone is the app drawer. Even the settings menu is hidden from where you'd normally expect it. And it's still pretty full of features, all things considered. It's got NFC, and AT&T's improved DriveMode is built-in, to help cut down on texting and driving. 

This one's worth a quick look in the store if you've got a first-timer looking for a phone and who doesn't want to spend a lot of dough doing it. 

We've got more pics and video of the Pantech Discover after the break.

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4 years ago

Fitbit announces the Flex, Bluetooth syncing to the Android app coming soon

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Fitbit is one of the more popular choices in the personal fitness tracking space, and today at CES the latest device in the range has been introduced. The Fitbit Flex takes the form of a waterproof wristband. Like the existing devices in the range, it records information such as steps and total distance covered and sends this information to your personal website. The Flex will also keep track of your sleep, but with no buttons to enter sleep mode as on the other devices, you'll have to use either the mobile apps or the website. 

Speaking of the mobile apps, one massive drawback to the current iteration of the Fitbit Android application, is the lack of syncing. All that is set to change beginning from the end of January or early February. It will start to offer Bluetooth 4.0 syncing -- initially, only to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Note 2, with more devices "coming soon." 

Source: Fitbit

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