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All posts tagged "hardware"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus: A Worthy Update

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 10:00 PM

"The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus retains its seven-inch display from the first generation Galaxy Tab. Now, upgraded with a dual-core Exynos processor, Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system, and a number of enhancements thanks to the TouchWiz user interface and some preloaded apps, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus refines on the experience that the Galaxy Tab 7 had promised."

Samsung has taken good 7-inch tablet and made it even better: Light; improved but sometimes laggy performance; excellent 1024x600 display that works indoors and outdoors; expandable storage (up to an additional 32GB SDHC); reasonably good cameras that record VGA or 720p HD video; updated Android OS that is actually designed for tablets; and enhanced TouchWiz. Negatives reported are less than stellar battery life, some performance lags in some apps, and slightly confusing design decisions by Samsung. Some bundled apps and some enhancements made by Samsung make for a better user experience. No pricing or availability information was provided, with T-Mobile expected to offer a Wifi + 4G version.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Panasonic Toughpad A1 Coming in Spring 2012

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 12:00 AM

"The Kindle Fire can bring the heat. But the Toughpad can handle flamethrowers. Panasonic is extending its line of weather-resistant, hard-shelled mobile devices to include Android tablets. Announced today, the Toughpad A1 will sport a 10.1-inch XGA capacative screen and a 1.2-GHz Marvell dual-core processor running Android 2.3 Honeycomb, and will be released in Spring 2012."

I've always been intrigued by Panasonic's series of hardened devices, and the Toughpad A1 is no exception. MIL-STD-810G compliance means that this tablet will be able to withstand drops, water, dust, and extreme temperatures. While very rugged, these devices seem to be always somewhat behind the technology curve, maybe due to the intensive and time-consuming hardening requirements.

The A1 tablet will run Android Honeycomb (not Ice Cream Sandwich), but will have a bundle of high-end features, like a daylight-viewable anti-glare, anti-reflective screen, battery life rated at 10-hours, and additional layers of security. Definitely a niche product, the Toughpad A1 will weigh 2.3-pounds and will be .67-inches thick, twice as heavy and twice as thick as the iPad 2. Not cheap at $1299, but if you need ruggedness, security and durability, this is your tablet.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet Enters the Fray

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:00 PM

"Sitting down? Good. Come November 16th, Amazon's Kindle Fire will have company. We've wrapped our paws around a stash of documents confirming the impending launch of the first bona fide tablet in the Nook line, and lo and behold, the Nook Tablet will end up being a dead-ringer for the Nook Color that already exists."

Interesting news, and pretty inevitable that B&N would take the training wheels off their Color Nook e-reader, with some bumps and boosts in capacity and performance, and voila, the Nook Tablet. Some advantages over its expected competitor, the Kindle Fire: double the RAM; double the memory, 16GB vs. 8GB; and lighter. But, $50 more right now. Are we seeing the birth of a new class of Android tablet, with a highly customized (and mostly hidden) UI?

Monday, October 31, 2011

New ASUS Tablets (Android and Windows 8) Coming in 2012

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Asus Eee PC Transformer" @ 05:30 PM

"The Transformer Prime, with its quad-core silicon and tasty OS, has rightfully garnered much attention lately. A PowerPoint deck detailing ASUS' Q3 earnings now gives us a peek at its Eee Pad strategy -- confirming the aforementioned Prime's November 9th release date, while also promising two more bot-powered slates in the first quarter of 2012."

Looking at the accompanying information from ASUS, translated into English (somewhere), and then extracted from a German-language site, the news is about an ASUS Transformer Prime, followed by an ASUS PadFone and a variant on the Eee Pad Slider. Two (2) Windows 8 tablets (Eee Slate E121 and the Eee Slate Business B121) are scheduled to be available in the autumn of 2012, giving ASUS two tablet technologies (consumer *and* business) in the marketplace.

The Transformer Prime looks to have NVIDIA's new Tegra 3 quad-core processor, a 10-inch display, 14.5-hour battery run time, and should run Android's newest OS. The current Transformer is a very solid tablet, and these updates should be welcomed by its fans.

ASUS estimates that it will sell roughly 1.8-million tablets in 2011, with an additional estimate of 600K still to be sold/delivered in Q4 2011 in addition to the 1.2-million sold to date. While the news is (and dates are) a bit contradictory in translation, we can expect some new competitors to the iPad from ASUS.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reminder: Audioengine A5+ Speaker Contest Closes on Friday

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 03:00 PM

Just a quick reminder that our giveaway contest to win a set of Audioengine A5+ speakers (valued at $399) wraps up on Friday at noon, so enter now!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Sweet Sound of Quality: Win a Set of $399 Audioengine A5+ Speakers

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 09:00 AM

I may be selling these sites and working full time for HTC now, but who says I can't have a little more fun giving away a great prize before I go? Last week I posted about the new Audioengine A5+ powered desktop speakers; the generous folks at Audioengine have offered up a set of these new speakers for a contest. With dual inputs (3.5mm and RCA, the latter of which is easily converted to an addition 3.5mm input with a cable) and a USB charging port, the A5+ speakers are a great companion to an endless variety of devices: desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, smartphones, and yes, even the humble Zune. Ringing in at $399 USD, these are high-quality speakers that I guarantee will blow you away.

How do you win this contest? Simply post a comment to this discussion thread (one entry per person) telling me what your current audio solution for speakers is and how the Audioengine A5+ speakers will be better. One winner will be randomly selected from amongst all the entries and they'll get to chose either a set of black or white A5+ speakers. Due to the size and weight of this prize, it will only be shipped within the continental USA. The contest will remain open until Friday the 28th at 12 PM mountain time (GMT -7).

Best of luck everyone, and I look forward to reading some interesting entries. :-)

UPDATE: The contest is now over, and the winner is ITforSmallBiz. Thanks to everyone for entering!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Coming Soon

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:30 AM

"The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus tablet with Android 3.2 Honeycomb is available for pre-order on Amazon.Eager customers can now place their pre-orders for Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus on Amazon. The device cost $399 for the 16GB model, and $499 for the 32GB version. Shipping dates have not yet been announced."

I think that Samsung will find it tough going competing against the Kindle Fire, especially for twice the price, even though this Wifi-only tablet sports Android 3.2, a 1024x600 touchscreen, front and rear-facing cameras, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. I travel a lot, and regularly perform (admittedly very unscientific) tallies of the types of devices that I see at airports, on airplanes, in coffee shops and restaurants, etc; and I really haven't seen many 7-inch tablets (Kindle readers, yes), so this market segment has room to grow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Google and Samsung Announce Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 10:30 AM

"Google just unveiled their new Nexus phone, the Galaxy Nexus, along with a preview of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, coming to phones next year. Here's a look at the creamy new update to the Android operating system."

Yesterday Google introduced the newest version of Android, version 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. Along with Google, Samsung was there to unveil the newest Nexus phone, the Galaxy Nexus. Ice Cream Sandwich has been anticipated for quite a while now. It's the first version of Android to combine the phone (under version 3) and tablet (version 3.x) versions of the Android OS back into one version 4.0 for both form factors. In doing that Google has brought a number of features and UI characteristics from the tablet version over for Android phones to use as well. They redesigned a lot of the interface and added tons of new features like Face Unlock and new app level data usage details and controls. Follow the "Read" link to see more of the new features.

I love the look of Ice Cream Sandwich. They say they revamped the UI and while it still looks like Android it does look cleaner and better. I'm glad they brought things like stacks and scrollable widgets over from Honeycomb. I also love their phone implementation of the Honeycomb multitasking interface.

Don't forget to check out the latest Nexus phone - the Galaxy Nexus. It's a high-end phone for sure with 1GB of RAM, a dual-core 1.2GHz CPU, huge 720x1280 4.65" Super AMOLED display, a barometer, NFC, and most everything else you would expect. Some will be disappointed that the rear camera is only 5MP or by the lack of a microSD card slot. The Galaxy Nexus will be available in November.

Monday, October 17, 2011

HTC Jetstream LTE Tablet coming to Canada on Rogers

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 11:00 AM

"Available tomorrow to Rogers customers, the HTC Jetstream is the first HTC tablet running on the Android™ 3.1 (Honeycomb) operating system. Beyond blazing speeds, it also boasts a striking design, HTC Scribe™ digital ink technology and the latest in HTC Sense innovation - HTC's unique user experience that puts people at the centre."

HTC and Rogers have officially announced the HTC Jetstream. This nicely loaded Honeycomb tablet will be available in Canada starting tomorrow for $500 on "select three year plans". As far as hardware goes, it has a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon CPU, 10.1" 1280x800 Super LCD screen, 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of built-in storage and a MicroSDHC card slot. It supports Rogers gsm, HSPA, and LTE. One thing that I really like about it is the fact that it has a 7300mAH battery! That should give some descent battery life. One thing I'm not sure I like is the fact that it has some form of Sense on it and it only has Honeycomb 3.1, not the latest 3.2. While it supports the HTC Scribe stylus it will cost you an extra $80. Follow the "Read more" link to see the full press release.

The Jetstream looks like a very nice Android tablet. I would want to play with the interface a little before picking one up but I like the hardware HTC put in it! What are your thoughts on the HTC Jetstream? Will this be your next Android device?


Let's Compare the iPhone 4S, Droid Bionic and Galaxy S II Shall We?

Posted by Jeff Campbell in "Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad" @ 01:00 AM

"Comparing devices that rely on fundamentally different ecosystems isn't always productive."

Pretty thorough yet not too long of a read for those with ADD. Basically it boils down to what you are looking for, so there is no clear cut answer as to the "best" phone, perhaps it is more of the best phone for your needs article. iPhone 4S is the clearcut winner as far as benchmarks, but if you want a faster network you need to go with the Droid Bionic and Verizon. Want the best Android experience and travel to Europe frequently? You might be interested in Sprint and the Galaxy S II.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Amazon Expects to Ship 5M+ Kindle Fire Tablets in Q4

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 09:30 AM

"Amazon could be on track to ship as many as 5 million Kindle Fire tablets in the fourth quarter, according to an analyst who tracks the market."

Impressive pre-order numbers bode well for the Kindle Fire tablet. Predictions for sales have already risen from 4M to 5M, according to one analyst. This is a little under half of what Apple expects to ship in the same time period. Apple ships about 12M iPad 2 tablets per quarter, according to this same analyst. Kindle Fire shipping is expected to begin around November 15th. The biggest reported gotcha is a potential shortage of 7-inch displays, with ASUS and HTC also competing for a (currently) limited supply. I've pre-ordered mine, and now we wait!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Audioengine Introduces A5+ Premium Powered Speaker System

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:31 PM

"The Audioengine 5+ (A5+) active speakers deliver audiophile-quality sound and features at a price that continues to set the standard for affordable high-quality audio. Connect your iDevice, computer, TV, or any other audio component for great stereo sound. The goal of Audioengine is to give our customers a high-end listening experience at affordable prices with easy to use, high-quality products. The Audioengine 5 powered speaker system was Audioengine's flagship model and has become a best seller, winning numerous awards along the way. The new A5+ incorporates the same award-winning design as the original A5 but includes customer-requested upgrades and features."

Bar none, Audioengine makes the best speakers I've heard at any similar price point. They simply sound incredible - I reviewed the original A5's back in 2007, and they still sound as good today as they did back then (actually, even better since I bought an Audioengine S8 subwoofer and added it to the mix). With the built-in 3.5mm input jack, they make a great accessory for smartphones, MP3 players, laptops, tablets, etc. I love the sound of AudioEngine speakers so much I have three pairs of their smaller A2 units in my home office. You get the point. :-) AudioEngine's release of the new A5+ speakers brings with it a $50 price increase, making them a pricey accessory at $399, but a set of speakers like this will last for years, through multiple computer upgrades.

What's new about the A5+ over the previous A5's? To quote Audioengine, "advance tuned cabinet with rear-ported waveguide, improved thermal management, upgraded speaker connector binding posts,remote control, variable preamp line out, RCA and mini-jack inputs, and new stand-mount 1/4" threaded inserts". I don't see anything in that list that would make me want to replace my A5's, but if I buy another set of speakers, I'll take a serious look at the A5+ speakers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Archos 80 G9: Quick Review of a New 8-inch Tablet

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Archos Tablets" @ 11:00 AM

"As far as tablets go, a couple of interesting things are going to happen between now and the holiday season. One, we're going to see a glut of smaller 7- and 8-inch tablets running Honeycomb (like this, this and this) hit the market. And if the Kindle Fire and Acer Iconia Tab A100 are any indication, they're going to be cheaper, making slates palatable to folks who previously couldn't bring themselves to spend $500 on a plaything. The Archos 80 G9, then, is the perfect specimen on both counts."

A surprisingly good, solid wifi-only tablet for the money, and it's sporting Android Honeycomb 3.2 (nearly pristine) rather than Gingerbread (2.x) as found on most tablets with a smaller form factor. A very good 1024x768 display (with a very useful kickstand) that can actually be seen outdoors, and a decent processor and battery life (for this smaller size) are the highlights. Negatives are a tinny sound, and a relatively poor 720p front-facing camera. Also offered is an HDD option with a 250GB drive, and a 4GB flash drive for the OS. Prices are $300 for an 8GB version, $320 for a 16GB version, and $370 for the 250GB HDD + Flash version. Nice to see that prices are realistic for potential buyers that are not willing to spend more for a tablet.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

T-Mobile myTouch and myTouch Q Now Official, Coming Before the Holidays

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 11:00 AM

"The 4G-capable myTouch and myTouch Q are everything the leaks indicated, with the former sporting a 3.8-inch touch screen and the latter coming home with a 3.5-inch screen (no word on the display tech used in either one) and landscape sliding QWERTY keyboard."

T-Mobile has two new entry level Android phones on the way. They have special features to simplify their use and teach you how to use them. Both seem to be reasonable devices with a 1GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM, 5MP camera that does 720p video, and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). The myTouch has a front facing camera. The myTouch Q has a slide-out landscape orientation qwerty keyboard. Both phones are 4G capable.

I'd have a hard time recommending the myTouch Q since it only has a 3.5" screen. The myTouch is better off with a 3.8" screen. It's a shame that both phones seem to have a lot of wasted space at the top and the bottom when holding them in portrait orientation. I guess they could be just the thing for someone looking for an Android phone on a tight budget. Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Androinica Reviews the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 10:30 AM

"If you know anything about the Samsung Galaxy S phones, then you already know about its world-renowned reputation of amazing displays and ultra slim form factor. With that said, lets get to more specific details shall we. The phone packs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, a 1.2 GHz Samsung Exynos processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage with the option to expand up to 32GB via SDCard..."

If you go by the review, this is one of the best Android phones out there. I have certainly heard a lot of buzz about it but I'm not sure why everyone is so excited. It sounds like it's got a very fast and smooth feel to the interface. It also has a fast dual-core processor and GPU. But if you ask me, you can't put a 480x800 screen on a current high-end phone. These days it needs to be at least qHD - I'll even take PenTile. I've seen it and I'm happy with PenTile. Unlike Super AMOLED Plus by itself the higher resolution actually increases practical usability by letting you see more on the screen at a time. I'm not sure the move from Super AMOLED to Super AMOLED Plus made enough of an improvement to battery life, which I think is the biggest problem with OLED technology on phones. Prove the battery life to me first compared to LCD and then I'll be interested in a 40,000:1 contrast ratio on my phone. Still, I'd rather have the resolution. Besides the resolution and possibly power usage of the display one other thing I don't like is the lack of a simple LED notification light. It's so basic but so important, at least for how I use my phone. If you don't need one that's up to you but that's one reason why the Fascinate and Nexus S were never on my wish list. Besides these things, questions I would have to get answers to before buying this phone based solely on Samsung's track record last year are: Will it get OS updates in a reasonable amount of time? None of the Galaxy S phones from last year did. And will the GPS work without issues? Most if not all Galaxy S phones last year had significant or major problems with the GPS. I actually don't have a dedicated GPS so I use my Droid X for that and it does an incredible job.

With so many people excited about this phone I know I must be in the minority with my thinking. I'd love to hear why you're excited about the Galaxy S II. If you have one, I'd love to know what you think of it. If you're interested in getting this phone make sure you check out the review!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

HTC Amaze 4G Coming to T-Mobile

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 10:30 AM

"The Amaze 4G is the latest in a line of T-Mobile’s advanced camera phones joining the myTouch 4G Slide and is equipped with an 8 megapixel camera, 1080p video, backside illuminated sensor for low-light performance, zero shutter lag and dual-led flash along with some advanced camera features..."

This looks like a great phone from HTC and T-Mobile! I like the fact that it has a qHD (540x960) 4.3" display for one thing. The CPU/GPU is probably the fastest available right now with a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S3 and Adreno 220. I also do like the fact that they seem to have really put some work into the camera. I've heard the camera on the myTouch 4G Slide is excellent and it sounds like this camera is at least as good and has more horsepower behind it. As you would expect from any high end Android phone these days it supports 4G and can handle at up to HSPA+ at 42Mbps. The Amaze 4G also has Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) and NFC if you're interested. You can buy the Amaze 4G on October 10 from an online pre-sale with delivery to a store 2 days later. I think the price is fair for what you get at $260 after a $50 mail in rebate and with a 2-year contract.

Are you in the market for a new phone on T-Mobile? How does the HTC Amaze 4G look to you?

Friday, September 23, 2011

ASUS Eee Pad Slider Review

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 05:30 PM

"While most Android tablets make due with a touch keyboard, for many typists a set of virtual keys just doesn't cut it. It's for these users that ASUS has designed the Eee Pad Slider SL101, the first 10-inch Android tablet with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The $479 Eee Pad Slider also features a bright IPS screen, a full-size USB port (for attaching a storage drive or mouse), and a sleek soft-touch chassis. But do these goodies justify the 2.1-pound weight? And just how good is the typing experience?"

For those that prefer physical keyboards, ASUS has heard you! The Eee Pad Slider is larger and heavier than both the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer (without the keyboard), but add a keyboard and the Slider is lighter. The wide bezel around the glossy IPS screen allows for a larger (but still smaller than a netbook) keyboard, and includes dedicated numeric keys. It is also possible to attach a mouse to better approximate a laptop. One point to note is that there is no palmrest, so support for the wrists is lacking, and no built-in pointing device.

If you do a lot of text entry, this is a good tablet choice, but if not, there are better (lighter, and less expensive) options.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The HTC Rhyme Goes for Form Over Function

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 12:00 PM

"Available in a female-friendly Plum for Verizon customers, the Rhyme has clean lines and a nice soft-touch back. HTC tweaked the Sense interface to make it more open and friendly, relegated the clock to the bottom right corner and adding dynamic shortcut icons to the home screen."

The Rhyme is not a bad phone at all actually. It's not for me but for a phone that's not supposed to be high-end it's got very reasonable specs. It has a 1GHz CPU with the Adreno 205 GPU, 3.7" 480x800 SuperLCD, 768MB of memory, and 4GB of built in storage. It comes with an 8GB MicroSDHC card as well for additional storage. It also comes with Gingerbread (Android 2.3.x) which is expected by now. The front facing camera is only VGA and the rear camera is 5MP but honestly they should work as well as the cameras on most other phones for general use.

What sets the Rhyme apart, and may make the $200 it costs worth the money, are the tweaks to the HTC Sense interface and the included accessories. The interface, among other things, includes slide out drawer-like widget icons. I think this is a cool idea though really it's not much different then folders I guess. It does look cooler to me. As far as accessories go the Rhyme includes a dock, tangle-free ear buds with in-line controls, and a funky notification dongle/charm thingy. The charm plugs into the earphone jack and flashes when you get calls or other notifications. See the video in the source article (click the "Read" link below) for a demo of the charm working. I think the notification charm is a cool idea but should have been done with Bluetooth. Of course then you would have something else to keep charged. It will be interesting to see if owners find the notification charm useful or useless just because it's too much of a hassle to plug in all the time. I'd love to hear what you think of this new phone from HTC!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

HTC Rhyme: Photos and Specs

Posted by Jason Dunn in "HTC Android Phones" @ 08:00 AM

More photos after the break, and here's the full spec sheet. Read more...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Detailed Review of the Asus EeePad Transformer

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Asus Eee PC Transformer" @ 10:00 PM,3010.html

"The Eee Pad Transformer is aptly named; there's more to this thing than meets the eye. Asus is the first to market with a tablet that pulls double-duty, attempting to replace your notebook, too. We put it through the paces to see how it really stacks up."

Oh, the docking station - adding one makes the Transformer a superb tablet. It not only securely locks the screen into the keyboard/dock, but its supplemental battery can significantly extend the battery life. Of course, Tom's Hardware runs the Transformer through a full battery of tests, and it does okay, against the usual contestants, the iPads, the Motorola Xoom, and the Acer Iconia A500. The physical keyboard makes using the Transformer an enjoyable experience, but, alas, still not a replacement for an equivalently-priced laptop. One big gotcha is that today the Transformer is a wifi-only device, but is priced at $399 (16GB), or $100 less than a 16GB iPad 2. Adding the docking station puts the Transformer at $50 more than the iPad 2, but well worth it in my opinion.

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