Windows Phone 8 fully fleshed out, smartphones releasing next month

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on October 29th, 2012

Three days after the Windows 8 release, today Microsoft formally launched Windows Phone 8 into the world. This summer Microsoft fleshed out most of the new features and enhancements that come bundled with the new mobile OS. At the company’s launch event, however, they shed light on a few more tricks up the OS’ sleek sleeve.

Live Apps: At the heart of Windows Phone is Live Tiles. They fill up the Start Screen and they serve two important objectives. They make your phone personal; you can easily rearrange and resize apps and other icons to your heart’s content. In addition, they are connected to the Internet and are regularly updated with the latest information; this institutes a glance-and-go mentality that Microsoft has been pushing since the ringing in of Windows Phone 7. Live Tiles are personal and informational. In WP8, the lock screen is getting a similar treatment with Live Apps. If a Live App is enabled, simply wake your phone up from sleep and you’ll instantly be provided with personalized updated information without digging for it. For example, make CNN or ESPN your Live App and when you check your phone’s lock screen you will be provided with the latest news headline or sports scores without virtually any effort.

Kid’s Corner: This is a neat feature currently exclusive to WP8. In essence, Kid’s Corner is a guest account that you can personalize for your kids or friends or colleagues. There are times when your kids want to steal your phone to play Angry Birds but you are hesitant to let them fool around with it because they might accidentally change settings or mess around with your inbox and other critical information. With Kid’s Corner, you can create a separate Start Screen environment for them to play around in. In Settings, you can choose exactly what apps, games, music, and video gets made accessible for them. Once you password-protect your phone, your personal account will remain untouched and they’ll be forced to swipe to the left and then up to unlock and enter the guest account known as Kid’s Corner.

Rooms: WP8 provides private spaces for you to interact and communicate with your close friends and family. You can create a Room that consists of your small circle of friends and only those invited to it will be able to view and share information inside it. In addition to a private chat room, a Room also allows shared calendars, notes, and photos. Most of the features in Room are exclusive to WP8 devices, but Microsoft says “some aspects” will work across other smartphones as well.

Data Sense: Microsoft is working with mobile carriers to help you keep track of your data usage since the days of “unlimited data” have come and gone. Data Sense is an app that “helps conserve your data allowance by compressing Web images, deferring data tasks to free Wi-Fi, and automatically adjusting your usage as you get closer to your plan limits.” Verizon will be the first to enable Data Sense, and Microsoft says others will join the initiative next year.

Integrated Skype: Since Microsoft bought Skype, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the communication app will be fully integrated with WP8 when it arrives on the platform soon. You can make and receive Skype calls just like you would a regular phone call, and your Skype contacts are integrated in the People (contacts) hub for easy access.

A growing app marketplace: Since WP7 was announced many developers have hopped on board to support the mobile OS. Currently the Windows Phone Store is home to 120,000 apps. Though this number is low compared to Apple and Android’s offerings, Microsoft is hopeful even more developers will start to pick up the slack and contribute to a growing app marketplace. This holiday season a bunch of popular apps are joining the WP fold such as Angry Birds Star Wars, Cut the Rope Experiments, Disney’s Where’s My Water, LivingSocial, Temple Run, Urbanspoon, “and many more,” promises Microsoft. And early next year, Pandora is coming too with one year of ad-free streaming music to-boot.

With all the software features out of the way, the next logical talking point is hardware. Microsoft has partnered with Nokia, HTC, and Samsung as hardware launch partners for WP8. AT&T will carry the Nokia Lumia 920, the Lumia 820, and the Windows Phone 8X by HTC in November; pricing is TBA. Verizon will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC for $199.99 with a two-year contract and the Nokia Lumia 822 (exclusive to Verizon) for $99.99 next month. Another VZW exclusive, the Samsung ATIV Odyssey, will release in December. And lastly T-Mobile will also sell the Windows Phone 8X by HTC (16GB) at $149.99 and the Nokia Lumia 810 at $99.99; these release November 14. The fourth U.S. carrier Sprint is sitting this round out.

If you’re looking for a different kind of mobile experience, Windows Phone 8 is the way to go. With a sleek, modern user interface and an equally attractive hardware selection it isn’t hard to recommend you check out Microsoft’s latest offering. The one (albiet major) drawback is developer support and the app catalog, but if the Store continues to grow at the pace Microsoft is hinting at today then they might just have a mobile platform to finally compete against the likes of iOS and Android.

After the break, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore gives you an extensive tour of Windows Phone 8.

[Via Microsoft] (Click here for more…)

Samsung Focus 2 brings Windows Phone + LTE to the masses at $49.99 on AT&T

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on May 13th, 2012

On May 20 the Samsung Focus 2 will enter the marketplace and make the jump to Windows Phone and speedy 4G LTE easier at an extremely affordable price. For $49.99 (after signing a new two-year agreement with AT&T), customers will get a smartphone that packs a 4-inch Super AMOLED display, a 5 megapixel camera that supports 720p video capture, a front-facing VGA camera for video calls, and a single-core 1.4GHz processor. The Focus 2 will be sold in a fresh coat of “pure white” and come loaded with the latest version of Windows Phone (7.5, that is). Sign up to be alerted to the phone’s release right here. PR after the break.

[Via Engadget] (Click here for more…)

Nokia Lumia 900, the first LTE Windows Phone, is out April 8 at $99.99 on AT&T

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 31st, 2012

Announced in January, the Nokia Lumia 900 smartphone has been tagged with an imminent release date and an affordable price point. The Lumia 900, which will soon become the first Windows Phone to boast 4G LTE, releases into the marketplace on April 8 at $99.99 after a two year contract with AT&T. The handset features a 4.3-inch (800 x 480) AMOLED ClearBlack display, a Carl Zeiss 8 megapixel camera with large aperture (F2.2) and wide angle focal length (28mm) and LED flash that supports 720p HD video capture, and a front-facing camera for video calls. It runs the latest version of Windows Phone, that is 7.5 aka Mango. The Lumia 900 will come in cyan blue and matte black flavors on the 8th, and later on April 22 a high-gloss white version will release. Preorder today. PR after the break.

[Via Engadget 1, 2] (Click here for more…)

The new iPad sells like hotcakes, big surprise

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 25th, 2012

On March 19 Apple released a statement announcing that their “resolutionary” new iPad is the fastest selling slate they’ve sold so far. In just three days–from launch on March 16 to the 19th–Apple sold over three million new iPads.

Apple’s Phil Schiller said this. “The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold―the strongest iPad launch yet. Customers are loving the incredible new features of iPad, including the stunning Retina display, and we can’t wait to get it into the hands of even more customers around the world this Friday.”

That Friday, March 23, has come and gone and now the iPad is being sold in an additional 24 countries. No further announcements have been made, but rest assured that the new iPad is doing just fine on the market. Who knows? Maybe the idiom “sells like hotcakes” will one day become “sells like iPads.”

In other news, AT&T has announced that it has set a new single-day record for its iPad sales and activations. Full PR after the break.

[Via Apple; Engadget] (Click here for more…)

4G LTE comes to Windows Phone Mango in HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on January 15th, 2012

Microsoft is heating up the competition by introducing two new 4G LTE enhanced phones for its Windows Phone collection. The HTC Titan II and the Nokia Lumia 900 are in fact the first 4G LTE smartphones to run Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone iteration “Mango.” Let’s start with the Titan II. Besides packing the 4G chip, the new Titan features a giant 4.7-inch super LCD capacitive touchscreen and an impressive 16 megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens, autofocus, and dual LED flash. The rear camera also supports 720p HD video recording, and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing one allows for video chat. Inside you’ll also find a single-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor and a 1,730mAh battery.

Nokia’s Lumia 900 is the bigger brother to the Lumia 710, the latter of which is the first smartphone to come out of Microsoft’s strategic alliance with the Finnish handset maker. (The Lumia 710 is now available to buy on T-Mobile for $50 on contract.) The 900 sports a larger 4.3-inch (800 x 480) AMOLED ClearBlack display, a 1.4GHz single-core processor, 512MB of RAM, Carl Zeiss-branded eight megapixel camera with large aperture (F2.2) and wide angle focal length (28mm) and LED flash that supports 720p HD video capture. Around the front you’ll find a camera also boasting a large aperture (F2.4) and a wide angle lens. Inside the polycarbonate body lies a sealed 1,830mAh battery. When it becomes available, the 900 will come in two flavors: cyan and matte black.

Microsoft’s first 4G LTE Mango phones are coming exclusively to AT&T later this year. Images below, PR and video after the break.

[Via Engadget 1, 2] (Click here for more…)

AT&T and Sprint announce 4G LTE market expansion

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on January 7th, 2012

Verizon flipped on its 4G LTE service back in December 2010 and since then it’s rather quickly spread to 190 million US cities and 118 million major airports, covering more than 200 million Americans. At long last, the time has come for the competition to throw their hats into the ring.

In early September, AT&T launched their 4G LTE service in 5 markets (Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston) to complement its HSPA+ network (also known as “faux-G”). Later in November they expanded to eleven additional markets including Athens, Ga., Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. On January 5, AT&T added another eleven markets to the mix, and they’re big ones: New York City metro area, Austin, Chapel Hill, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. Ma Bell calculates that this addition makes AT&T 4G LTE available in a total of 26 markets to 74 million consumers. The company expects its 4G LTE deployment to be mostly complete by the end of 2013.

And then there’s Sprint. They’ve been innovating behind Verizon and AT&T, only just announcing their first major markets to receive 4G LTE. Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio will be the first four markets to see the faster speeds in the first half of 2012. Sprint is also working on boosting their 3G speeds as well. They call it Network Vision: “Sprint customers can expect to enjoy ultra-fast data speeds, improved 3G voice and data quality, and stronger in-building signal penetration providing a more reliable wireless experience…everyone in the upgraded areas is expected to benefit from the advanced 3G/4G LTE network.”

With 4G LTE markets spreading across America like wildfire from Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint, consumers can expect new smartphones to release this year that take advantage of the faster voice and data speeds that 4G provides. Rumor has it that the next iPhone will in fact be compatible on VZW, at least. Now that AT&T isn’t allowed to swallow T-Mobile, the network that made popular the Sidekick is going to have to act quickly if they want to remain the race; their speedy HSPA+ network won’t stand a chance once the other three carriers are boasting their expansive 4G LTE ones. Let the games begin.

[Via AT&T; Sprint]

AT&T to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion …NOT

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on December 20th, 2011

The first half of this post’s title was a major announcement back in March. Almost exactly nine months after news broke that AT&T would eat up T-Mobile to become a giant force against competitors Verizon Wireless and Sprint, Ma Bell has decided to end its bid to acquire T-Mobile USA. In a press release, AT&T blames the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice for blocking the transaction from happening. Over the past few months, the FCC and the DOJ have been making it difficult for AT&T to buy out T-Mobile. Why you ask? I’ll let competitor Sprint express their viewpoint on the matter:

“From the beginning, Sprint has stood with consumers who spoke loudly and clearly that AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile would create an undeniable duopoly that would have resulted in higher prices, less innovation and fewer choices for the American consumer.”

In other words, with T-Mobile gone consumers would have a limited selection choosing a wireless carrier and this would impede competition and lead to lower expectations when it comes to innovation. AT&T sees things differently:

The actions by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to block this transaction do not change the realities of the U.S. wireless industry. It is one of the most fiercely competitive industries in the world, with a mounting need for more spectrum that has not diminished and must be addressed immediately. The AT&T and T-Mobile USA combination would have offered an interim solution to this spectrum shortage. In the absence of such steps, customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled.

Since Ma Bell wasn’t able to carry through with its acquisition as planned, the company must pay Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile USA’s German-based parent company) $4 billion before year’s end. Also, AT&T will enter a mutually beneficial roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom. For more pop after the break to read the PR.

[Via Engadget] (Click here for more…)

Windows Phone Mango coming to AT&T handsets this fall

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on September 13th, 2011

In May Microsoft previewed the first major upgrade to its rejuvenated mobile OS. Mango will bring multitasking, IE9, and deeper social network integration, among other things, to Windows Phone 7 devices. This fall, AT&T intends to upgrade their entire WP7 portfolio to Mango. Nice! But there’s more. In a press release (in full after the break), Ma Bell also announced three brand new handsets that will ship with Mango on board in Q4. The new and improved Samsung Focus S features a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, 1.4GHz processor, a rear facing 8 megapixel camera and a front facing 1.3 megapixel, “4G”-capable speeds, and a thin profile at 8.55 millimeters. The Focus Flash downgrades things a bit and packs a smaller 3.7-inch Super AMOLED screen, a 5 megapixel camera with front facing camera, but it keeps the speedy 1.4 GHz processor. And finally the large-and-in-charge HTC Titan features a 4.7-inch display, 1.5 GHz processor, and 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash. Pricing and exact available will have to wait.

Update: Microsoft shows off a bunch of Mango’s new features in dramatic video fashion after the break.

[Via AT&T; Engadget] (Click here for more…)

HP Veer 4G comes to AT&T May 15 for $100

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on May 5th, 2011

Back in February, HP formally introduced three new WebOS-enabled devices imagined by the Palm godfather Job Rubinstein. The HP Veer, the smallest of the bunch, is hitting the market first and it’s coming to AT&T. Described to be the size of a credit card and no thicker than a deck of cards, the newly branded HP Veer 4G goes a little something like this: 2.6-inch (320×400) glass touch display, an 800MHz Snapdragon processor, 5 megapixel camera, full slide-out QWERTY keyboard, built-in GPS, WiFi 802.11b/g, and Bluetooth, 8GB of storage, accelerometer, proximity, and light sensors, Adobe Flash Player support, it can act as a mobile hotspot supporting up to 5 WiFi-capable devices, HSPA+, one USB port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It runs WebOS version 2.1 and comes in black and white variants. When it drops May 15 the palm-sized handset will set you back an affordable $99.99, two-year contract with AT&T required. Full PR after the break, as is an image that shows you just how pint-sized this thing really is.

[Via Palm] (Click here for more…)

AT&T to acquire T-Mobile USA for $39 billion

Posted in Images,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 20th, 2011

Well here’s some interesting Sunday news for you. This afternoon AT&T announced a definitive agreement with Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile USA’s German-based parent company) under which AT&T will acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom in a cash-and-stock transaction valued at $39 billion. Should this deal go through, it will bring together T-Mobile’s current subscriber base of 33 million and AT&T’s 95 million customers thus making Ma Bell the largest wireless provider in the United States (for comparison’s sake, Verizon has 94 million customers). Furthermore, it will situate AT&T as the sole GSM provider to compete against CDMA rivals Verizon Wireless and Sprint. As far as 4G connectivity is concerned, AT&T plans to take advantage of T-Mobile’s installed infrastructure to significantly expand 4G LTE deployment to 95 percent of the U.S. population–reaching an additional 46.5 million Americans beyond current plans.

Says AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson: “This transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation’s future. It will improve network quality, and it will bring advanced LTE capabilities to more than 294 million people.”

Obviously the acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, but if all goes smoothly the transaction will close in about 12 months, AT&T will have eaten up T-Mobile USA, and Deutsche Telekom will have an 8 percent stake in AT&T. Look after the break for the official PR statements from AT&T and Deutsche Telekom that cover the basics summarized here as well as additional notes about competition and financial information. Click through the gallery of images below to see how the merger will affect coverage in America.

[Via Engadget; AT&T]

(Click here for more…)

Nintendo 3DS will support Netflix, and other news to know

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 5th, 2011

This week at Game Developer Conference 2011 in San Fransisco Nintendo held a brief press conference detailing their latest handheld sensation the Nintendo 3DS. Though it’s already been sold in Japan and the U.S. release is right around the corner (March 27) the company is already detailing the system’s first major software upgrade. First up, Netflix is coming to the 3DS this summer. Users will be able to access their Netflix movies and TV shows on the device and have the option to pause said content and resume it on the big screen via the Wii’s Netflix portal.

In addition, the 3DS will gain a new 3D video channel that will act as a gateway to 3D produced content like movie trailers, music videos, and comedy shorts. The channel will be automatically updated with new 3D content over a wireless connection. Ninty also hinted that 3DS owners will eventually be able to record their own videos in 3D using the devices dual rear-facing cameras.

The house that built Mario went on to further detail the Nintendo eShop, a place where 3DS users can browse and download all kinds of content including DSiWare games, Game Boy and Game Boy Color classics remastered in 3D, and a Virtual Console which will include titles from Sega’s Game Gear and TurboGrafx-16. All of this plus a web browser is expected to make its way to the 3DS via a software update in late May.

Speaking of Mario, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata teased a Super Mario 3DS title by showing a logo for the game; a small grey raccoon tail juts out of “o” in Mario likely hinting at what’s to come (perhaps a long overdue sequel to Super Mario Bros. 3?).

And finally, Nintendo announced a partnership with AT&T that will give 3DS owners free access to 10,000 WiFi hotspots. SpotPass, a 3DS software feature that automatically receives new game content and system updates even while the device in sleep mode or charging, will take advantage of the WiFi access points to do its thing.

The Nintendo 3DS releases March 27 for $249.99. Preorder yours today.

[Via Engadget; Joystiq]

AT&T now offers iPhone 3GS for only $49.99 [Update: Apple, too]

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on January 9th, 2011

The post title pretty much says it all.  AT&T, including brick and mortar stores and online, is now selling the iPhone 3GS for $49.99.  This offer applies to both new and upgrade-eligible existing AT&T customers.  Don’t have the cash to plunk down $199.99 for a beefier iPhone 4?  Now you totally have a viable way into the cellular-enabled iOS universe.  Full PR after the break.

Update: Apple’s gone ahead and matched AT&T’s low, low price of $49.99 for the 8GB iPhone 3GS.  I smell a new product release…is that you, Verizon iPhone?

[Via Engadget] (Click here for more…)

LG Quantum lands on AT&T today for $199.99

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on November 15th, 2010

Just one week ago three Windows Phone 7 powered devices hit the U.S. market–the Samsung Focus and HTC Surround found a home in AT&T and the HTC HD7 teamed with T-Mobile.  Today the LG Quantum rounds out the AT&T trifecta of WP7 launch devices.  Nothing crazy here: 3.5 inch display, 1GHz processor, full slide-out horizontal QWERTY keyboard, 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus, flash, 16GB of built-in storage, and 720p HD video recording, and DLNA streaming support.  Plus 10 free apps will be waiting for you to download; they’re available through the LG app store within the Windows Phone Marketplace.  All this for $199.99 on a new two-year contract.  Shipping today.  Full PR after the break.

[Via Engadget] (Click here for more…)

Samsung Galaxy Tab release date and price roundup

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on November 15th, 2010

About one month ago Samsung and mobile operator partners detailed Galaxy Tab offerings.  Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile put their cards on the table, while U.S. Cellular said it it was coming soon and AT&T remained silent.  Today the latter two carriers shared their respective release dates and pricing schemes, so I thought it’d be helpful if I charted out each carrier’s Tab information.  So without further ado:

Verizon: $599.99 (no contract required); optional 3G plan- $20/month for 1GB of data; released 11/11

Sprint: $399.99 (new 2-year contract required); $29.99/month for 2GB or $59.99 for 5GB; releases 11/14

T-Mobile: $399.99 (new 2-year contract required); $24.99/month for 200MB or $39.99/month for 5GB released 11/10

AT&T: $649.99 (no contract required); $14.99/month for 250GB pay-as-you-go plan or $25/month for 2GB pay-as-you-go plan; $50 Media Hub Movie Rental credit with purchase for a limited time; releases 11/21

U.S. Cellular: $599 (no contract required) or $399 (contract required); $14.99/month for 200MB or $54.99/month for 5GB with tethering enabled; releases 11/19

Been looking for an iPad alternative?  This Android (Froyo) based tablet is it.  That is, until iPad 2 comes out.

Windows Phone 7: 10 devices, 4 launch hardware partners, 60 mobile carriers in over 30 countries worldwide; coming 10/21 in Europe & Asia, early November in U.S.

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on October 11th, 2010

Today Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage in New York City to reveal the final details surrounding the launch of Windows Phone 7.  Microsoft first unveiled their new cell phone operating system in February at Mobile World Congress; next they spotlighted developer support at MIX’10; and most recently they detailed Xbox Live integration.  All there was left to do is reveal launch harware and mobile operator partners and device release dates and pricing.  And that’s exactly what went down today in NYC.

Let’s start with the Windows Phone 7 launch hardware partners and the actual devices you might potentially pick up come this holiday season.  Samsung, LG, HTC, and Dell are collectively bringing ten new devices that will run WP7.  The Samsung Focus (codenamed Cetus) features a 4-inch (480×800) Super AMOLED display, 1GHz processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and 8GB of onboard storage with microSD expansion up to 32GB.  It’s the thinnest WP7 launch device measuring at 9.9mm (or .3 inches) thin.  It will launch exclusively with AT&T in the U.S.  The Samsung Omnia 7 features the same 4-inch (480×800) Super AMOLED display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and 8GB of onboard storage.  It will launch with Orange (France and UK), SFR (France), Movistar (Spain), and Deutsch Telekom on November 8.  The LG Quantum (or Optimus 7Q outside the U.S.) features a 3.5 inch (480×800) display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, 8GB of onboard storage, a slideout QWERTY keyboard, and it comes preloaded with PlayTo, an app that allows users to wirelessly stream content to DLNA-enabled devices.  It will launch exclusively with AT&T in the U.S. and with Telstra in Australia.  The LG Optimus 7 features a 3.8 inch (480×800) LCD display, 1GHz processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, and 16GB of onboard storage.  It will launch with Telus (Canada), América Móvil (Mexico), Movistar (Spain), Vodafone (Germany, Italy, Spain and UK), and SingTel (Singapore).

HTC is launching five WP7-powered devices.  The HTC HD7 features a 4.3 inch (480×800) display (it’s the WP7 launch device with the largest display), 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of RAM, 5 megapixel autofocus camera with dual LED flash (supports HD 720p video recording), 16GB of onboard memory, built-in kickstand, and it comes preloaded with Netflix, Slacker,  T-Mobile Family Room (a note-taking sharing app), and a T-Mobile TV entertainment app.  It will launch exclusively with T-Mobile in the U.S. in mid-November and with O2 (UK, Germany, Ireland), Movistar (Spain), SingTel (Singapore), Telstra (Australia), and Bouygues Telecom (France) on October 21.  The HTC 7 Surround features a 3.8 inch (480×800) display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of RAM, 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash (supports HD 720p video recording), built-in kickstand, and 8GB of onboard storage.  What makes this device standout from all the others is the slideout speaker that features Dolby Mobile and SRS Surround Sound technologies.  It will launch exclusively with AT&T in the U.S. and with Telus in Canada.  The HTC 7 Pro will be the first WP7 CDMA device and will launch exclusively with Sprint in the first half of 2011.  It features a 3.6 inch (400×800) display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of RAM, 5 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash (supports HD 720p video recording), 16GB of onboard storage, and a slideout QWERTY keyboard.  Update: The 7 Pro will arrive in Europe “early next year.”  The HTC 7 Mozart and HTC 7 Trophy are two WP7 handsets that will not (initially, at least) not make it to the U.S. market.  They both feature a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 576MB of RAM, 8GB of built-in storage, and HD 720p video recording.  Here’s where they differ.  The Mozart features a sleek aluminum unibody construction with a  3.7-inch (480×800) display and 8 megapixel camera with a Xenon flash.  The Trophy, on the other hand, features a slightly larger 3.8 inch (480×800) display and a slightly lesser 5 megapixel camera with LED flash.  The Mozart with launch with Orange (France and UK), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Telstra (Australia) and the Trophy will launch with Vodafone (Australia, Germany, Spain and UK) and SFR (France).

And finally there’s the Dell Venue Pro.  It features a 4.1-inch (480×800) AMOLED display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor,  5 megapixel camera with flash, and a portrait-designed QWERTY keyboard.  It will launch exclusively with T-Mobile in the U.S.

And that’s a wrap on the hardware discussion.  As you can see, all ten WP7 devices are very similar in terms of internals: the 1GHz processor, the 5 megapixel camera, the 8GB-16GB internal storage, 3.5 inch to 4.3 displays, and the handful of slideout QWERTY keyboard-equipped models.  Through the end of the year, WP7 devices will be exclusive to AT&T and T-Mobile; this leaves a wide gap in the CDMA (Verizon/Sprint) playing field.  By the time Q1 of 2011 rolls around, Microsoft better have deals finalized with the other mobile carriers if they truly want to compete in the competitive smartphone market.  Also, hardware partners will eventually have to up their game with better and differentiating specifications and designs if they want to stay relevant.  HTC is doing a fine job so far with the 7 Surround speaker design the HD7’s large 4.3 inch display.  But for now, the WP7 starting lineup is quite impressive.  The stars are certainly aligning for a successful launch.

In addition to revealing hardware and mobile carrier partners, Microsoft also shared some information regarding software developments.  Though they weren’t specific about the exact number of launch apps for Windows Marketplace, they did show off bunch of promising apps.  They include Twitter, eBay, Fandango, Netflix, Slacker, IMDb, and games such as Tetris, The Sims 3, Monopoly, Need for Speed: Undercover, and The Harvest.  AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega was on hand to show off the AT&T U-verse app.  The app will be preloaded on all AT&T WP7 devices and will allow users to download and watch TV shows on the go.  If you are already a U-verse subscriber at home, accessing and downloading content off the app is free.  You will have the ability to manage your DVR recordings, access TV guide listings and an On Demand library.  If you are not a subscriber, AT&T will offer a $9.99/month plan to watch TV on the go when WP7 launches wide in November.  (Keep in mind, “live” TV is not available; you are simply downloading content to watch now or later.)  In related news, AT&T has confirmed that Xbox 360 owners will have the ability to use their console as a U-verse receiver starting October 15.  New subscribers can order a $99 Xbox installation kit and a technician will load the software onto the console for you; current subscribers will be forced to pay an extra $55 on top of the $99 installation kit to make the switch from set-top box to Xbox.  And here’s one last software tidbit: Microsoft promises a free software update bringing copy-and-paste functionality to all WP7 devices will be pushed out in “early 2011.”  Update: In a statement Microsoft confirms that public beta software will be available for Mac users to sync “select content” with their WP7 device later this year.  Look after the break for the first two WP7 commercials!

Apple, Google, RIM…it’s on.

[Via Engadget, here, here & here; Quantum image via PhoneArena] (Click here for more…)

The truth behind AT&T’s cell service

Posted in Hilarity,Image cache by Scott Meisner on September 5th, 2010

Ohh, that’s why AT&T reps think their service is so great.  This explains everything!

[Via Shoebox; Gizmodo]

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 finally gets release date and priced

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on August 11th, 2010

Now THIS has been a long time coming.  Sony Ericsson is finally releasing its first Android-powered smartphone on August 15 for $149 (with a new two-year contract) on AT&T.  The Xperia X10 first made waves last summer when a breif video preview leaked onto the ‘Net.  Codenamed “Rachel” the SE customized user interface evolved over the months to eventually become a skin for Android 1.6.  That’s right, the X10 runs a very old version of the Android OS (version 2.2 is just starting to trickle onto handsets today).  As disappointing as that sounds, it looks like the highly customized UI overlay might hide the cobwebs and make for an inviting experience.  SE offically revaled the X10 back in November, but I’ll refresh your memory with a quick listing of specs.  The X10 packs a 4-inch touch screen, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8.1 megapixel camera with LED flash (plus smile detection, face recognition, and autofocus), built-in GPS, and 8GB of on-board memory and 2GB memory card (expandable up to 32GB).  The cornerstone(s) of the refined UI skin are SE’s “signature applications” Mediascape and Timescape:

*Mediascape on the Xperia X10 gathers music, photos, videos and content from your phone’s memory card and online, letting you browse, search, listen and share your media from one unified view. For example, view photos taken on the device as well as your Facebook and Picasa web albums. Or, when listening to a favorite song on your phone, press Sony Ericsson’s infinite button to access related content about the artist pulled from the phone’s memory as well as albums, songs and video content from YouTube and search results from Google.

*Timescape is a unique communication application that automatically organizes social interactions in chronological order, leaving users free to concentrate on keeping in touch on-the-go. From Facebook and Twitter updates to photos, emails and text messages, a scrolling menu offers easy viewing and organization of all communications. Additionally, tap the Timescape infinite button to bring up and view all communications from a single person in a single place.

Like I said, the X10 will be available August 15 in AT&T stores for $149.99.  But if you choose to pick one up at a local Sony Style store you’ll receive an instant $20 rebate.  Look after the break for the official PR and a brief video tour conducted by a Sony rep from this past year’s CES.

[Via Engadget] (Click here for more…)

BlackBerry Torch slider QWERTY smartphone runs BlackBerry 6, hits AT&T August 12 for $199.99

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on August 4th, 2010

On Tuesday RIM and AT&T formally announced the latest BlackBerry handset and it’s called the BlackBerry Torch.  It’s BB’s first slider smartphone, and it comes with a full QWERTY keyboard BB users are accustomed to.  Let’s run through the specs, shall we?  The Torch packs a 3.2″ (360 x 480) capacitive touch screen display,  5.0MP camera with flash, auto focus, image stabilization and geo-tagging, built-in GPS and 802.11n WiFi, quadband 3G radio, and 512MB of Flash memory with 4GB on-board and a microSD/SDHC memory card slot for additional storage (up to 32GB supported).  It measures 4.4″ x 2.4″ x 0.57″ when closed and 5.8″ x 2.4″ x 0.57″ when the slider keyboard is out.  Face buttons include start/end calls, main menu, back, and an optical trackpad.  The Torch will be the very first BB to run the just detailed BlackBerry 6 operating system.  This means it will include the fast Webkit browser (for which it was named after–RIM recently bought a company named Torch Mobile), integrated social feeds, a new multimedia experience, and universal search.  The phone will be made available to purchase on August 12 for $199.99 on a new two-year contract with AT&T at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, RadioShack, and AT&T stores.

The brand new form factor is extremely compelling.  It’s the new OS, which seems to be following the pack and not making its own strides, that I am worried about.  Look in the gallery below for press shots and after the break for the PR and two “launch videos”.

[Via Engadget]

(Click here for more…)

Apple’s answer to iPhone 4 deathgrippers: free cases

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on July 16th, 2010

Today Apple held a press conference to address the iPhone 4 antenna problem that’s been making waves in the news recently.  Just to recap, the antenna problem occurs when an iPhone 4 user grips the lower left side of the phone.  AT&T signal strengh drops from five bars to none at a rapid rate when the user touches and/or grips that specific part of the phone.  An official statement from Apple advised users to hold their phones differently or slap on a case.  A case would cover the vulnerable lower left side and result in better signal strength during day-to-day use.  Today Jobs announced that Apple will begin offering their Bumper case for free for all iPhone 4 owners who purchase their device before September 30.  In regards to extending the free case offer Apple says they will evaluate the situation again in late September.  If you’ve already purchased a Bumper case, you can receive a full refund on it.  Since Apple cannot manufacture enough Bumpers fast enough, they will offer a choice of free cases to choose from (these have not been specified yet).  Starting late next week you can apply for a free case at Apple’s online store.  And if you’re totally unsatisfied with your purchase you can get a full refund on the phone; Apple’s got a 30 day return policy and a restocking fee will not be applied.

What led Apple to making this decision to offer free cases?  Read on to find out. (Click here for more…)

iPhone 4: 600,000 preorders, 1.7 million sold, reception & screen issues addressed

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on July 2nd, 2010

iPhone 4 launch day has come and gone so let’s discuss how it all went down.  At WWDC ’10Apple CEO Steve Jobs called iPhone 4 “the biggest leap since the original iPhone”, piquing the interest of his most devout followers, so much so that they lined up in droves to preorder and purchase the latest gadget to come out of Cupertino.  On June 15, Apple, AT&T, and other authorized Apple retailers begain taking preorders for iPhone 4.  On that single day, iPhone 4 preorders maxed out at 600,000.  According to AT&T, that’s ten times as many orders as it took for last year’s iPhone 3GS.  Due to this insanely high number of preorders, Apple and AT&T were forced to halt all preorders until the phone hit store shelves one week and two days later.  And that brings us to launch day.  On June 24 iPhone 4 launched nationwide and in the UK, France, Germany and Japan to an excitable population ready to get their hands on the shiny, sleek new handset.  At Apple Retail Stores those who preordered waited in line to nab their guaranteed iPhone while overnight campers tried their luck at receiving the leftovers.  The latest tallies reveal that Apple sold 1.7 million iPhone 4s through June 26 (that’s just three days on the market!).  In an official PR, Jobs stated, “This is the most successful product launch in Apple’s history.  Even so, we apologize to those customers who were turned away because we did not have enough supply.”  According to the Apple Online Store, more iPhone 4 units will ship in about three weeks.  Soon enough, Apple Stores will be chock full of new iPhones for everyone who missed out on the initial launch supply.

What began as a cheery launch quickly turned into a melancholy situation when iPhone 4 users started to cry foul about reception and screen issues.  Let’s start with the latter issue that has seemed to disapate as of late.  A number of iPhone 4 users are discovering slight yellow spots at the bottom right-hand corner of their retina displays.  An AppleInsider forum poster has come up with the best explanation for this:

Apple is using a bonding agent called Organofunctional Silane Z-6011 to bond the layers of glass. Apparently, Apple (or more likely Foxconn) is shipping these products so quickly that the evaporation process is not complete. However, after one or two days of use, especially with the screen on, will complete the evaporation process and the yellow “blotches” will disappear. How do I know? I was involved in pitching Z-6011 to Apple.

Since the time this explanation was outed (just a couple hours after the launch on the 24th) the desperate cry for help has waned.  It appears that those affected with the yellow spots will notice them disappear after a day or two of use.

The same cannot go for the next (and more dire) iPhone 4 problem: the tale of reception woes.  iPhone 4 users first noticed this problem when they gripped the phone in a certain way (in a very common way, mind you).  On the affected devices, if you hold the phone in any way that covers the lower left-hand side where the black strip is located (pictured above) you will notice your signal drop almost immediately from five to zero bars.  Preposterous!, you’re thinking.  But it’s true, so let’s dive into this a bit more.  At WWDC ’10, Jobs announced that the new iPhone packs a new antenna system that actually wraps around the outside phone so as to provide better signal strength.  The metallic band that wraps around the phone contains one piece for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS and the other for UMTS & GSM.  When you cover the bottom left-hand side of the phone where the GSM band wraps the phone all signal is lost.  What’s rather ironic is that what Jobs called “brilliant engineering” has turned into an engineering EPIC FAIL in the minds of many iPhone 4 users. (Click here for more…)