The latest member to join the Droid smartphone family is the Droid DNA by HTC and it’s the most powerful one yet. Right off the bat you’ll notice its 5-inch, true 1080p HD super LCD 3 display (440 pixels per inch) with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, specifically a quad-core 1.5GHz CPU that’s paired with a high-performance GPU. Android’s latest and greatest Jelly Bean operating system comes preinstalled along with HTC Sense 4+. The backside camera specs go like this: 8-megapixel f/2.0 28mm wide-angle lens, 5-level automatic flash, backside illuminated sensor (BSI), superfast autofocus, 1080p HD video capture. The 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera features f/2.0 88-degree ultra-wide angle lens and also captures full HD video. Beats Audio is on board, as is “a unique, 2.55-volt, built-in headset amplifier and dedicated amp for the external rear-speaker to help boost the audio signal to deliver crystal clear sound with less distortion, even at maximum volume.” WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC are here as well. It is 4G LTE capable. It packs a 2,020mAh battery. And as far as measurements go, the DNA is 9.73mm thick and weighs 4.86 ounces.
The Droid DNA is arguably the best and most powerful handset Verizon Wireless offers today. Well, technically it releases Wednesday, November 21st, but you can preorder it now if you like. Sign a new two-year contract and it’s yours for a reasonable $199.99. PR after the break. (Click here for more…)
On the same day that Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 and detailed a hardware lineup, Google decided to announce new hardware along with a new version Android.
Google leaves it up to many third party smartphone manufacturers to develop devices to run Android. Once in a while, however, the search engine likes to inject its own cream into the crop with devices branded Nexus. The next smartphone featuring vanilla Android is the Nexus 4 and it’s a collaboration between Google and LG this time. Here are the hard specs: 4.7-inch WXGA True HD IPS Plus display (1280 x 768 resolution, 320ppi) with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 protection; Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor; 2GB RAM; 8 megapixel rear camera with 1080p video recording and 1.3 megapixel front camera; 2,100mAh battery promising 15.3 hours talk time and 390 hours of standby; 8GB and 16GB storage capacities; WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth; supports NFC and wireless charging; ports include Micro USB, SlimPort HDMI, and 3.5mm headphone jack; it’s 9.1mm thin and weighs 139g; and it supports 3G (WCDMA) and HSPA+ networks. The Nexus 4 comes loaded with the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean 4.2) and it releases November 13 at $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB); it will be sold as an unlocked device at those prices in the Google Play store. Buy the 16GB model from T-Mobile with a new two-year contract and you can get it for a more affordable $199. On launch day it will be available in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Australia and it’ll start to roll out to Europe, Central/South Americas, Asia, CIS and the Middle East beginning in late November.
Google is already in the tablet game with the Nexus 7, and today they’ve decided to up their game with an even larger slate to directly compete with Apple’s iPad. A collaboration with Samsung, the Nexus 10 packs–you guessed it–a 10.055-inch WQXGA display with an incredible 2560 x 1600 resolution (300 ppi) and Corning Gorilla Glass 2 coat of protection. Other specs include: dual-core Cortex A15-based 1.7GHz Samsung Exynos 5250 processor; Mali T604 GPU; 2GB RAM; 5 megapixel rear camera and 1.9 megapixel front camera; front-facing stereo speakers; 9000 mAh battery promising 9 hours of continuous video playback and 500 hours of standby; 16GB and 32GB storage capacities; WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth; supports NFC; ports include Micro USB, Magnetic Pogo pin charger, Micro HDMI, and 3.5mm headphone jack; and it’s 8.9mm thin and weighs 603g. The Nexus 10 too comes preinstalled with Jelly Bean 4.2 and it releases November 13 at $399 (8GB) and $499 (16GB); these slates are WiFi-only.
Google’s original Nexus 7 slate is seeing an update. The 8GB model is no longer offered; in its place are 16GB ($199) and 32GB ($249) flavors. Available today are those WiFi-only models, and come November 13 a 32GB model with WiFi and HSPA+ data (with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US) will sell for $299.
In addition to announcing a new smartphone and tablet, Google injected new life into Android with the latest version of Jelly Bean 4.2. Photo Sphere allows you to take pictures in every direction and stitch them together for immersive panoramic images; Gesture Typing brings Swype-like interaction to the virtual keyboard; support for multiple user accounts gives your friends and family their own personal spaces on a single device (this feature is limited to tablets only running v4.2); Daydream allows you to personalize your screensaver with photos and news; and Google Now and Google Search have been updated with more cards and an enhanced interface, respectively. For more, click the source link below. (Update: The Google Search app for iOS has been updated with improved voice search that rivals Siri. Download here, video demo after the break.)
And just like that, Google has their very own lineup of Android-powered Nexus devices in three different sizes. Get a closer look at the Nexus 4 phone and Nexus 10 tablet in the galleries embedded above; after the break there’s video.
The third major tech company to take the spotlight this week was Amazon. On Thursday they updated their e-reader and tablet lineups with the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire HD.
The Kindle Paperwhite is the fifth-generation Kindle e-reader and it houses “the most advanced e-reader display ever constructed,” says Amazon. How so? It contains 212 pixels-per-inch making room for 62% more pixels than before and this allows text to appear crisper and clearer and images are sharper and richer. In addition, the blacks are blacker and the whites are whiter thanks to 25% higher contrast. What Amazon is really touting here is the patented front-lit display that makes reading with or without natural or artificial light a better experience. With the light left on all the time, the Paperwhite will still give you 8 weeks of battery life. The new e-reader packs a 6-inch capacitive touchscreen for input; there are no physical buttons for page-turning. Amazon describes its size like this: “[it's] thinner than a magazine [at just over a third of an inch thin] and weighs less than a typical paperback [weighing 7.5 ounces].” Software enhancements include Time to Read, a feature that helps readers know the amount of time it will take them to finish a chapter or a book; X-Ray, a feature that lets readers see all passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics that interest them, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia; WhisperSync for Voice that allows readers to start an audiobook on one device and pick up where they left off on another; and new typeface options. A Wi-Fi only version of the Kindle Paperwhite goes on sale October 1 for $119. A 3G version will sell for $179. Preorder today.
In addition to introducing a second generation Kindle Fire (more on that device soon), Amazon added two new Android-based devices to the Fire family. The Kindle Fire HD comes in a 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions. The larger display model features 254 pixels per inch with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 (1080p full HD). The smaller display model has a lower resolution of 1280 x 800 (720p). New LCD technology reduces glare by 25% compared to the third-generation iPad. Also, integrated IPS allows for wide viewing angles. Other specs include: 1.5GHz dual-core OMAP4 4470 processor (in the Fire HD 8.9″), 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4 460 processor (in the Fire HD 7″), Dolby Audio with dual stereo speakers, a front-facing camera for video chat, and built-in Bluetooth, HDMI-out, and 40% faster WiFi (compared to the latest iPad) thanks to dual-band support, dual antennas, and MIMO technology. To size ‘em up, the Fire HD 8.9″ is 8.8mm thin weighing 20 oz. and the Fire HD 7″ is 10.2mm weighing 13.9 oz. Amazon shares that the smaller model gets 11 hours of battery life. Software enhancements include X-Ray for books, movies, and textbooks, allowing users to augment their tablet experience with expanded information from Wikipedia, IMDb, and YouTube; and FreeTime, a set of parental controls that allows parents to limit their kids’ screen time by content type. Pricing and availability. The Fire HD 8.9″ comes in four flavors: WiFi-only 16GB ($299), WiFi-only 32GB ($369), 4G LTE 32GB ($499), and 4G LTE 64GB ($599). For $49.99 customers can receive 4G LTE from AT&T, 250GB of data per month for one year, plus 20GB of Amazon Cloud storage and a $10 credit in the Amazon Appstore. The Fire HD 8.9″ is up for preorder today and goes on sale November 20. The Fire HD 7″ comes in two flavors: WiFi-only 16GB ($199) and WiFi-only 32GB ($249). These are in direct competition with Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. They’re also there to preorder and will release sooner on September 14.
Now I told you I would return to the successor of the original Kindle Fire. Amazon is still calling it the Kindle Fire, and it still features the same 1024 x 600 non-HD 7-inch display. What’s changed? It’s got a 40% faster processor for better performance (1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4 430), twice the memory (1GB), and longer battery life (8.5 hours). The sole 8GB model goes on sale September 14 for $159.
Want to know what the rest of the Amazon e-reader line looks like today? In addition to the Kindle Paperwhite, the latest generation OG Kindle is still hanging in there. A slightly updated new model ships September 14 with 15 percent faster page turns and at a lower price point, $69 (ad-supported). Also still available is the Kindle Keyboard with 3G for $139 (ad-supported) and the giant Kindle DX with 3G at $379.
Get a closer look at the new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader and Kindle Fire tablets in the galleries below (in order Kindle Paperwhite, Fire HD 8.9″, Fire HD 7″, OG Fire). After the break, video and PR.
Following in Nokia’s footsteps, on Wednesday Motorola announced three new additions to its Droid RAZR smartphone lineup. Let’s start with the most basic of the bunch denoted M and work our way to the long-lasting beast of a phone known as MAXX.
The Motorola RAZR M features an edge-to-edge 4.3-inch qHD (960 x 540) Super AMOLED Advanced display, a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera that can record 1080p video, a 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera, and an NFC chip. The compact, Kelvar strong 4G LTE phone is available September 12 for an affordable $99 after a $50 rebate and signing a new two-year contract with Verizon Wireless. It’s up for preorder today.
The RAZR HD and RAZR MAXX HD boast a larger 4.7-inch 720p Super AMOLED HD display, the same 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB of RAM, 8 megapixel shooter, front-facing camera, NFC chip, 4G LTE, and Gorilla Glass and Kelvar protection. The main difference between these two siblings is battery life. While the HD packs a decently sized 2,500mAh battery, the MAXX HD runs off a massive 3,300mAh battery that promises 32 hours of standard usability (13 hours of straight video playback, 21 hours of continuous talk time, 8 hours of web browsing over 4G LTE). Exact pricing and availability have not been shared at this time, but Moto says customers can expect the HD and MAXX HD to release “before the holidays” with VZW.
In addition, Motorola has specified that all three smartphones will ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on board and they will be upgradeable to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean by the end of the year. Pics in the galleries below (in the order M, HD, MAX HD), and there’s video and PR after the break.
Update (10/14): Verizon has specified that the Droid RAZR HD & RAZR MAXX HD will go on sale October 18.
Google I/O 2012: Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q media streamer, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google+ & Project Glass
Google announced a slew of new hardware and software at this year’s I/O event for developers. From tablets to a funky-looking media streamer, to the next version of Android and even the futuristic Project Glass, the boys of Mountain View covered it all so let’s dive right in.
The Nexus 7 serves the same purpose as the Nexus smartphone lineup: it provides a pure Android experience, but on a tablet. The 7-inch slate was made in collaboration with hardware manufacturer Asus, and it packs a 1280×800 back-lit IPS display with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass. It measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm and weighs an impressively light 340 grams. A quad-core Tegra 3 processor from NVIDIA and 1GB of RAM power the tablet, and a 4325 mAh battery 9 hours of HD video playback and 300 hours of standby time. As far as sensors go, there’s an accelerometer, GPS, a magnetometer, and a gyroscope. WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, and NFC are also on board. Ports include Micro USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack, both located on the bottom of the device. There’s rear-facing camera, but you’ll find a 1.2MP front-facing camera for video chatting. 8GB and 16GB storage capacities are available to pre-order today through the Google Play storefront at $199 and $149, respectively. The tablet ships later this month and comes with a $25 credit for the Play store plus a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and other media-related extras. It runs the latest version of Android (that is 4.1 Jelly Bean, more on this later) and Google says it was “made for Google Play.” On the homescreen you’ll have quick access to games, your music, movie, and TV show libraries, and your book and magazine collections. In related news, the Google Play store has been updated and now sells magazines, TV shows, and movies can be rented and purchased.
In a not-so-surprising move, Google has brought its desktop Chrome browser to Android mobile devices. Dubbed Chrome for Android Beta, the new mobile browser focuses on speed, simplicity, and seamless sign-in and sync. The Chrome omnibox rests up top and search results are loaded in the background instantly as you type in it. Intuitive tabbed browsing is in tow, as is link preview and incognito mode. When you first launch the browser you are asked to sign-in with your Google account. Connecting your account to the browser allows you to view open tabs you left on your computer on your mobile device, get autocomplete suggestions based on searches you made on your computer, and sync your bookmarks across devices. Chrome for Android is now available to download from the Android Market, but for now it’s only compatible with Android phones and tablets running version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Hop after the break to watch an introductory demonstration.
On Wednesday Google stripped the “b” word from Music Beta by Google and transitioned Google Music into a one-stop shop for uploading, purchasing, and sharing music. Like Music Beta, Google Music will allow users to upload up to 20,000 songs to the cloud for free. The music.google.com portal still exists and looks nearly identical to its beta version. Users can upload their music to the cloud by clicking the “Upload Music” link in the top right corner; this will prompt you to open the Music Manager software, just like before. What’s new, however, is the link “Shop.” That’s right, Google is ready to go head-to-head with Apple and Amazon by selling songs directly to users. The Android Market has a new section called Music living among Apps, Books, and Movies. At this new Music store users can browse, preview, and purchase individual tracks and albums. Google has worked out deals with three of the four major labels–Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and EMI–and many independent labels to offer over 13 million tracks. Google has yet to partner with Warner Music Group, and the absence of their inclusion stings a bit. To ease the pain, they are offering exclusive content from some of the most popular artists like Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, and Dave Matthews Band. Free tracks and live concert albums are currently in the mix from a handful of artists. When you download music from the Android Market, the tracks automatically fly into the cloud and populate your Google Music library on your computer and mobile devices. If you have an Android device running 2.2 or higher the Music section of the Market is rolling out to you soon and you’ll be able to download tracks on the go. The Google Music app has already received an update and can be downloaded at the Market today. After downloading music from the store, Google lets you share your purchase with your Circles on Google+. When your friends see a track or album shared on their stream, they have the option to listen to your music once in its entirety! Next there’s the Google Music Artist Hub. The kind folks at Google are giving independent artists a means to upload their music to the Android Market. If you have the rights to distribute music, Google has built a simple interface to create your own artist page, upload original tracks, set prices, and sell content directly to customers. Indie artists keep 70 percent of the profits and Google gets the remaining 30. If this tickles your fancy, visit the Artist Hub to get started. Last, the G-Men have released a Google Music app for Google TV. It’ll let you can access your music library right on the TV.
And just like that, Google has set itself up to become a formidable contender in the music space. Video after the break.
There was the Nexus One and Nexus S. Today in a joint event based in Hong Kong Google and Samsung announced the next Android flagship device: the Galaxy Nexus. Both the hardware and software that make up this smartphone will bring you to your knees. First, check out these hardware specifications. The Galaxy Nexus sports a giant 4.65″ (1280X720) HD Super AMOLED display and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1GB of RAM. There’s a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, zero shutter lag, and 1080p HD video recording at 30fps around back and a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front for video calls. Built-in sensors include an accelerometer, compass, gyro, light, proximity, and a freakin’ barometer. Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0 technologies are onboard, as is NFC. The sleek devices measures at 135.5 x 67.94 x 8.94mm and weighs 135g. A Li-on 1,750 mAh battery comes attached. Ports include USB 2.0 and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Customers will have the option of 16GB and 32GB storage capacities. will HSPA+ and 4G LTE models will be produced with all signs pointing to AT&T and Verizon Wireless as official carriers, though this information along with pricing has yet to be announced.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the next Nexus phone will come loaded with the next generation Android OS dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. Previously introduced and detailed at Google I/O earlier this year, ICS (now labeled Android 4.0) will merge Android’s smartphone OS Gingerbread (v2.3) and tablet OS Honeycomb (v3.0) to form “one OS everywhere” and bring the best of both worlds to smartphone devices. At the Hong Kong event Google further detailed ICS and shed light on some super cool functionality that’s baked into it. With Android 4.0, Google says “the lock screen, home screen, phone app, and everything in between has been rethought and redesigned to make Android simple, beautiful, and useful.” The revamped OS brings with it many enhancements and new features, but there are four major ones that were discussed at today’s event. (1) Face Unlock uses facial recognition to unlock your phone. In Settings, Android will snap a picture of your face and remember it each time you go to unlock your phone. If lighting is poor, you can unlock your phone with a conventional swipe. (2) Android Beam uses NFC technology to wirelessly share content between two devices. Users can physically touch two phones together and tap a “beam” button to share web pages, apps, maps, YouTube videos, and more. Does this remind you of WebOS’ “tap-to-share” functionality? It should. (3) The enhanced Camera app brings with it a panorama mode, 1080p video capture, zero-shutter lag, and fun effects like silly faces and background replacement. Photos can be edited right on the device. (4) A new People app helps users organize their contacts with social network integration (Google+, “other social networks”) including the ability to view status updates and high-res photos. Other software updates coming with ICS include virtual on-screen buttons that take the place of physical capacitive ones, a new modern “Roboto” font, a customizable launcher, offline search in Gmail, accessing apps from the lock screen, enhanced voice recognition, tabbed browsing, and the ability to exit apps running in the background. If you want to learn more about what’s packed inside Ice Cream Sandwich, head over to the Android Developers website.
The Galaxy Nexus will be the very first device to run Android 4.0. Google says that “theoretically [Ice Cream Sandwich] should work for any [Android] 2.3 device.” Though there are no plans to rollout ICS to legacy Android devices just yet, you can expect Google and hardware manufacturers like Samsung and HTC to speak up about software updates for specific devices in the near future. The Galaxy Nexus with ICS goes on sale in the U.S., Europe, and Asia this November. Again, pricing and carriers are TBD. Check out the super sleek phone and OS in the gallery below, then find official PR after the break.
A little under a month after previewing it, Sling Media has released its SlingPlayer for Android Honeycomb tablets. Just like the iOS and Windows Phone 7 versions that came before it, this one costs $29.99. A press release, in full after the break, clarifies: The SlingPlayer application for Android Phones will continue to work in “Compatibility Mode” on tablets at no extra charge. The Android Phone version of the application streams from all Slingboxes, but not at the higher quality resolutions available on tablet devices. Go and get it at the Android Market today.
Android smartphone users have been slinging live TV to their devices via the SlingPlayer Mobile app for some time now. Now running through the pipeline is a Honeycomb version of the same app. That’s right: in the near future both Android-powered phones and (Android 3.0 and higher) tablets will be able to run SlingPlayer. The app upgraded for larger screens will go for the same price it always has: $29.99. Click here and sign up to be notified about its release. For now, prepare for the release by watching the video demonstration above.
In an interesting move, superpower Google bought the consumer-oriented arm of Motorola known as Motorola Mobility for a cool $12.5 billion (at a price of $40 per share) on Monday. In a press release the pending acquisition is explained:
The acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a dedicated Android partner, will enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. Google will run Motorola Mobility as a separate business.
Google CEO Larry Page says, ”Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.”
This is a huge move made by Google. Like Microsoft and Nokia, Google and Motorola are going to take advantage of their partnership by harnessing the power of Android software and the might of Moto’s hardware to create amazing products for consumers. Keep in mind that the Mobility division goes beyond smartphones and also includes other consumer devices like set top boxes; no doubt Google will work with Motorola to ensure the growth of products like Google TV. And on the business end of things, the acquisition ”will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies,” says Page.
As the acquisition takes hold, a few questions remain. What will happen to Moto’s custom Android skin called MotoBlur? Will all future handsets built by Moto come loaded with the latest version of plain vanilla Android? Will the next Nexus phone come from Goog’s new partner? Time will tell.
One thing’s for certain: even though Google and Moto are tied to one another, the Android platform remains open for all hardware manufacturers to utilize; healthy competition is here to stay. Full PR after the break.
Yesterday and today Google hosted its renowned developer’s conference dubbed Google I/O 2011. Literally thousands of developers flocked to San Fransisco’s Moscone Center to find out what Google’s been cooking up on their end. This year’s event proved to be leaps and bounds more exciting than last year’s conference. Google introduced their new cloud-based music service called Music Beta; they unveiled Ice Cream Sandwich, the next version of Android that promises to bridge the gap between Gingerbread and Honeycomb; Android is going into the home automation business with Google’s impressive initiative Android@Home; Chrome OS is finally ready for the big leagues–Samsung and Acer are prepping Chromebooks for mass consumption; and Angry Birds has landed in the browser!
So much to discuss–it’s all a hop, skip and a jump after the break. (Click here for more…)
It’s time to take a closer look into the exciting and ever-expanding smartphone market. The NPD Group, a market research company, has done some number crunching for us to determine US smartphones sales for the first quarter of 2011. They break it down by smartphone manufacturer: Android-powered smartphones accounted for 50 percent of smartphone unit sales in Q1 2011 (falling 3 percent from last quarter); Apple’s iOS gained some ground jumping 9 percentage points to comprise 28 percent of smartphone sales; and RIM remains in a distant third place, dropping 3 percentage points to 14 percent for the quarter. Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD, explains Apple’s growth and Android dip (spoiler alert: it’s the Verizon iPhone’s fault): ”Apple and Verizon had a very successful launch of the iPhone 4, which allowed the iPhone to expand its market share that was previously held back by its prolonged carrier exclusivity with AT&T. While some of that growth came at the expense of Android operating system (OS), Android models still accounted for half of all smartphones sold in the quarter.” Thanks to the iPhone being available on the world’s two largest carriers, Apple (14 percent) is now the third-largest handset brand in the US behind LG (18 percent) and Samsung (23 percent).
Here are a couple fun facts for you to chew on. This quarter marks the first time a majority (54 percent) of all new mobile-phone handsets purchased by U.S. consumers were smartphones. Woohoo, yay technology! And here are the five top-selling mobile phone in the country: iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid X, HTC EVO 4G, and HTC Droid Incredible. Go Apple and HTC!
A new day, a new Droid. A little over a year after its original incarnation, the Incredible gets an upgrade. So what does the sequel bring to the table? It packs Qualcomm’s latest 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 4-inch super LCD display (the original featured a 3.7-inch screen), eight megapixel with dual LED flash capable of 720p HD video capture, 1.3-megapixel front facing camera (a new addition!), and it runs Android 2.2 with the latest version of HTC Sense. The world phone can act as a 3G Mobile Hotspot that can connect up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices. Unfortunately the Incredible 2 does not support Verizon’s new 4G LTE network. 3G’ll have to do. 200 bucks is the fee (with a new 2-year contract, of course), and it goes on sale the 28th of this month–that’s tomorrow! Full PR after the break.
RIM’s ready to enter the heated tablet market with their BlackBerry PlayBook. The device, exhaustively detailed here, releases April 19 and will come in three storage capacities: 16GB ($499), 32GB ($599), and 64GB ($799). These prices line up nicely to Apple’s iPad offerings. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are the wireless carriers planning to carry the PlayBook. Note the models listed here are WiFi-only. These are up for preorder today through Best Buy, and RIM says that once the release date rolls around it’ll be available to pick up at many retailers including RadioShack, Office Depot, and Staples. Official PR’s sitting after the break.
Update: Though it’s not powered by Google’s Android OS, the BlackBerry PlayBook (and any QNX-based BlackBerry smartphone, for the matter) will support both BlackBerry Java and Android apps. BlackBerry users will not have access to the Android Market, however; the apps will be sold in BlackBerry App World. Before the transition to the other app store can happen, Android developers must port their apps to have them run properly on these new foreign devices.
HTC manufactures dozens of aesthetically-charged handsets powered by Android and their acceptable skin HTC Sense. The Thunderbolt, however, is a standout. In just two days it will officially release and become Verizon Wireless’ first 4G LTE device on the market. VZW says that customers can expect download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in the 4G Mobile Broadband coverage area (check to see if you’re covered here). So if you’re not near a WiFi signal data speeds will be blistering fast (when compared to current 3G speeds, that is). Other specs include: 4.3″ WVGA display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8 megapixel rear facing camera with HD (720p) video recording, 1.3 megapixel front facing camera with video chat capability, 8GB of onboard memory and a pre-installed 32 GB microSD card, and around the back there’s a built-in kickstand. Additionally, the device can act as a Mobile Hotspot and can share its 4G connection with up to eight WiFi-enabled devices (a 2GB monthly cap is in effect). Note that after Verizon’s grace period ends on May 15 you’re required to pay an additional $20/month on top of your current phone bill to enable hotspot functionality. The handset is preloaded with Android 2.2 (Froyo) and HTC’s latest version of Sense (v2.0).
The HTC Thunderbolt lands on Verizon Wireless on March 17 and will cost $249.99 after signing a new two-year contract. Order from Verizon or Best Buy. According to the official press release (which is sitting after the break), the phone will launch with an unlimited 4G LTE data plan costing the standard $29.99/month. Like the other wireless carriers, Verizon will eventually transition its 4G data plan into tiered (read: data capped) options but for now it looks like Thunderbolt owners will have the freedom to go wild with their crazy fast speeds.
Update: HTC has put together a promo video featuring the Thunderbolt and its bold design. Check it after the break.
Sony Ericsson’s “PlayStation phone” named the Xperia Play was teased during the Super Bowl and today the smartphone company let out a prequel commercial that goes on to explain how exactly those human thumbs ended up sewed onto the green nubs of the Android mascot. If you thought the teaser was creepy, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Today Adobe announced that they’re delivering on their promise to bring updated Flash support to Android devices next week. Flash Player 10.2 will be available for download via Android Market on March 18th. The new player will work on the three most recent versions of Android–that is, 2.2 (Froyo) and 2.3 (Gingerbread), and 3.0 (Honeycomb). It remains in beta form for the tablet version of the OS. The update is detailed after the break, PR-style.
Google has put together this fascinating look at the growth of Android between October 2008 and January 2011. Spots around the world light up when an Android-powered smartphones get activated. It’s fun to watch significant spikes light up the map when specific phones released into the market. See how the launch of Motorola’s Droid and others affected the growth of Google’s open-source platform in the visualization embedded above.
The wait for a worthy iPad contender has been tiring. Samsung’s Android 2.2-powered Galaxy Tab couldn’t compete with Apple’s iOS offerings (its successor, on the other hand, is anticipated). Android is finally ready to make the move to tablets, and Honeycomb looks scrumptious. The first Android 3.0-powered tablet out of the gate will be Motorola’s 10.1-inch Xoom, detailed here. Tomorrow, February 24 the Xoom will be made available on Verizon’s 3G network with promise of upgraded 4G LTE capabilities (at no additional charge) later this year (Q2 2011, somewhat more specifically). Here’s the pricing options you’ve got at launch. You can purchase the Xoom for $599.99 if you sign a new two-year contract with VZW; 3G data pricing starts at $20 for 1GB of monthly access. Or if you don’t feel like tying yourself to a carrier you can simply drop two additional Benjamins and rely on Internet access via WiFi hotspots. The pricer Xoom is currently listed on Best Buy, but it’s slapped with an in-store only pickup option. Verizon is also teasing it on its website, and their press release ambiguously says it’ll be available through them as well (online/in-store purchasing is not specified, unfortunately).
Update: We’re past midnight and tomorrow is now today. Verizon’s teaser site has transformed into an order page so there you go. Just to make things clear, Motorola is selling two SKUs: the $600 3G (upgradeable to 4G) model and the $800 non-3G (but still upgradeable to 4G) model. Apparently a cheaper WiFi-only version is in the works, but neither Moto nor Verizon have specified its arrival date.
Oh and there’s this. The Xoom will not ship with Flash support at launch. Crazy, right? At least the wait isn’t that long, and we know it is coming. According to Adobe, the makers of the ubiquitous video standard, “Flash Player 10.2 [will be] pre-installed on some tablets and [arrive] as an OTA download on others within a few weeks of Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) devices becoming available, the first of which is expected to be the Motorola Xoom.” A few weeks time, you can handle it.
Jump after the break to find the aforementioned PR and a super cool Xoom teaser produced by the carrier.