Tag Archive | "smartphone"

Sony Xperia Play Game Demo and Look-Round

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xperia play

I am certainly not qualified to talk in-depth at the Xperia Play gaming experience but I was certainly quite excited to see the hardware controls and game quality. In the video you hear me talking to a Sony Ericsson representative about the product. We discuss battery life, pricing, availability, get a gaming demo and take a look round the device.

The Xperia play runs Android 2.3 on a Snapdragon 1Ghz CPU (MSM8255with Adreno 205 GPU) with a 4 inch ‘Reality’ display at a true 16:9, 854 x 480 resolution. Note that Android 2.3 brought in some touch responsiveness extensions and enhancements.

What’s important to me is that another major company is now switching to the ARM/Android chassis for another product category which means Android is now in phones, tablets, media players, cameras, gaming devices, TVs and smartbooks. What’s category do you think Google are looking at for it’s next ‘device-specific ‘ branch of Android? Set-top-boxes is something I’ve been keeping an eye on.

Samsung Continuum Review

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DSC_2625.NEFSamsung previously piqued my interested with it’s Galaxy S Fascinate [tracking page][review], so I’ve been excited to give the Continuum a try. The Continuum is much like the Fascinate except it has a 1.8 inch 480×96 AMOLED “ticker inch display underneath the main screen for notifications and quick access to info like time/date/weather/twitter/facebook/etc. Does the extra display equal extra functionality or is it merely a monotonous novelty without much depth? Read our full review to find out!

We’ll start out with the classic hardware tour, but before that I want you to know that, as I mentioned, the Samsung Continuum is very much like the Samsung Fascinate that we reviewed a little while ago. It’s pretty much the same device in a slightly different body and without the Continuum’s extra display. We aren’t in the business of boring our readers so I’m not going to hit you with information that we’ve already covered. I’ll point you to the Fascinate review if need be, but for the most part this review is going to focus on the Continuum’s unique aspects (ie: the ticker display) and it’s particular performance. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

Hardware Tour

Here’s a quick visual rundown of the Continuum to get you familiar with the device:

DSC_2655.NEF

DSC_2656.NEF

DSC_2652.NEF

DSC_2661.NEF

And here’s the specs (as always, you can find more detailed technical info on our Samsung Continuum tracking page in the device database).

  • 3.4 inch capacitive Super-AMOLED screen @ 800×480
  • secondary 1.8 inch capacitive Super-AMOLED @ 480×96
  • Android 2.1 (custom Samsung overlay)
  • ARM Cortex A8 CPU @ 1GHz
  • PowerVR SGX graphics
  • 366MB of RAM
  • 5.0MP auto-focus camera with single-LED flash (capable of 720p HD recording)
  • WiFi b/g/n & BT 3.0

Nokia / Intel / Meego Phone at MWC – Highly Unlikely

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I’ve been seeing a lot of talk and getting a lot of questions about a possible Nokia / Intel / MeeGo phone that could be launched at MWC. Rumors center around the Nokia N9 which is a slider phone said to be running MeeGo and to be launched at MWC. While it might be launching, I doubt very much it’s got Intel inside.

Intel MeeGo Phone

I’ve already predicted 2012 for Intel/MeeGo smartphones because Moorestown’s 2-chip solution isn’t quite perfect for a high-end smartphone. Especially one with limited space for battery as in the slider design you see. I’ve also had private hands-on with MeeGo on Moorestown and seen the work that needs to be done on the MeeGo core before it’s ready. I doubt Nokia want to release another developer-focused ‘demonstrator’ phone in the way they did with the N900

Report: Timeline for MeeGo Devices

With Moorestown not quite right and MeeGo not quite ready, can you imagine the risk of Nokia would have to take showing a beta product or prototype based on MeeGo? No. Nokia and Intel will have agreed to make a splash with the first smartphone and I expect them to wait until later in the year.

Could the N9 be a MeeGo phone on a Ti platform? Yes. Ti were a Gold sponsor of the MeeGo conference in November.

Could we see it launched soon? I’m guessing May based on the fast that Nokia could be working with MeeGo 1.2 beta releases.

Will Nokia pre-announced the N9 at MWC? Assuming it’s a MeeGo product, I doubt it. Nokia have stated that they don’t want to ‘leak’ or preview devices any more.

And here’s another data point:

I spoke to Intel at the end of November about Moorestown and Medfield progress. Here’s what they said:

  • Is Moorestown in full production now?
    Yes, Moorestown has been in production since we rolled it out in May 2010. Our tablet and smartphone customers are using the platform to build their own devices and this is the current focus on Moorestown.
  • Target was 2010 for products, Why the delay?
    You can expect Moorestown based tablets in 1H’11 and smartphones later in the year.
  • What operating systems options are you planning to offer for Moorestown?
    Moorestown supports both Android and MeeGo.
  • Are you accelerating Medfield?
    Medfield is on track and scheduled to launch in 2011

There’s a hint of of a Moorestown smartphone in the answer to the first question but look at the timescales in question 2. ‘Later’ than 1H 11 sounds like 2H 2011 to me. If a Moorestown smartphone is going to happen, it’s not happening until the second half of the year. Medfield isn’t being accelerated as far as I can see based on the answer to the last question.

Finally, my native Finnish-speaking co-podcaster JKK of JKKMobile doesn’t read any solid fact in the Finnish article that started this rumor.

MWC is going to be big for Nokia and big for Intel. Look at the floor space that Intel have this year. Two booths, a Meego hospitality suite, the Wind-River subsidiary and a keynote with Paul Otellini. Rene James , head of the Software and Services Division says this:

There are things we’ll announce at Mobile World Congress that will shed a lot more light on why the value proposition [of MeeGo] makes a lot of sense for consumers and device manufacturers. [ref]

MWC will be all about software for Intel. AppUp on MeeGo. Tablet UI. Major ISV partners. MeeGo V1.2 beta announcement. Major brand joining the MeeGo partnership. All these things are more likely than the Nokia/Intel phone.

As for Intel hardware, expect to see tablets based on Moorestown running MeeGo 1.2 beta and Android. If that’s done right, it could be big enough news to keep the momentum going until later in the year.

LG Gets Official with the Optimus Black

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크기변환_Optimus_Black

Today at CES LG have gone official with their latest Android smartphone. It sports a 4-inch NOVA display which LG claim is “the brightest, clearest and most readable inch mobile screen available, promising to be extremely bright while at the same time being more power efficient than both LCD and AMOLED mobile screens.

If the name doesn’t give it away, the phone has a black finish and LG also claims it’s the worlds slimmest mobile phone at an impressive 9.2 mm, which is 0.1 mm thinner than Apple’s iPhone 4. It will be interesting to see if it can still claim to be the worlds slimmest phone by the end of CES.

The Optimus Black seems very similar to the LG Optimus 2X that was announced late last year, however the LG press release gives no indication on what processor is at the heart of this phone leaving me feeling sceptical on whether this device is Tegra 2 powered like the Optimus 2X.

LG say this is also the worlds first ‘WiFi-Direct’ phone which is a very interesting technology that allows direct data transfers between enabled devices.

The Optimus Black will launch with Android 2.2 preinstalled however LG plan on updating the device to Gingerbread which they claim will also provide higher quality video calling through it’s 2 megapixel front facing camera.

This appears to be a very promising phone and I look forward to a hands on when it launches globally in the first half of 2011.

Source: LG

Viewsonic Viewpad 7 Live Review – Videos and Detailed Impressions

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We’ve had the (final version) Viewsonic Viewpad 7 for 2 days now and last night we completed 3hrs of live testing in front of an audience of 480 people. We’re now in a good position to be able to bring you a good round-up review of the device. Live recordings of the stream are embedded below. Unboxing video is here. Thanks to Viewsonic Europe for sending the device over. UK customers can find details of a trade-in offer and retailers here.

Overall quality of the £400 pound tablet is good and we feel that Viewsonic have got the price/quality ratio right. This is a lot more than a £200 open-source Android tablet here and less than a £500 high-end 7” Tablet (e.g. Galaxy Tab) and it sits alone as the cheapest 7” 3G+Voice Google Android tablet on the market. ‘Google’ means that it really does have everything that you find on a Google Android phone including voice capability, compass, GPS, compass, capacitive touchscreen and the latest Android software.  So why is the Viewpad 7 cheaper than the Galaxy Tab then?

Viewsonic Viewpad 7 (7) Viewsonic Viewpad 7 (8)
Click to enlarge. More in the gallery.

Let’s start with the processor that tricked me. I was originally told it was a Snapdragon CPU at 600Mhz but despite some reasonable Web performance, it turned out to be an ARM11-based device. In real-use yesterday I was still quite happy with the browsing speeds and although I would never recommend anyone get an ARM11-based device for serious web work, when laid-back in a passive usage mode, it’s quite acceptable. You’ll see some browser tests in part 3 of the video review below. The GPU, Adreno 200 – the same as that found on the Snapdragon platform, is probably helping a lot here because UI actions seem smooth, if not ‘physical’ like the iPad.  Android 2.2 helps too. It’s a far more efficient build than 2.1 and helps to pull everything possible out of the platform. This is probably as good as we’ll ever see on an ARM11-based device and at this point it has to be said that this is the best ARM11-based mobile internet device I’ve ever used.

Full specifications, gallery, news and more in our Viewpad 7 tracking page.

There are more hints of ‘value’ though that don’t hide themselves so well:

  • Screen – At 800×480 this isn’t the sharpest. Although Android apps are only designed for up to 800×480 screen, there are photos, videos, ebooks and browser pages to consider. A full-screen, page-to-fit web page is not easily readable and will require a pinch or double-click to zoom to readable quality. It’s bright enough but there are differing results from vertical and portrait viewing angles. This is a typical horizontal-optimised LCD. I won’t go into detail here but portrait mode is not perfect. Text seems to stretch vertically too indicating that the pixels aren’t square. It’s a good screen, but not top-of-class.
    Note: After measuring the screen, pixels are indeed not square. Resolution ratio: 1.666:1  Size Ratio: 1.78:1
  • CPU – Mentioned above. Don’t expect to squeeze much more out of this CPU in the future. There are already applications that aren’t supported on this CPU (Flash for example)
  • Software – This is, to all intents and purposes, a raw Android experience. Some people will prefer this and at least the Market is there to help. In the live review we downloaded and installed about 15 applications suggested by viewers in less than 10 minutes. Try doing that on a Windows 7 laptop!
  • Camera – The 3.0MP camera shouldn’t be regarded as anything more than a snapshot device and the results show high grain and huge traces of plastic lens. It’s easy to smudge fingerprints over the camera lens too so quality can degrade even further. Videos aren’t anything to get excited about either.
  • Video Playback – There are quite a few video formats out there and each has variable bitrate and ‘profile’ levels. Codecs cost money and Viewsonic have chosen not to add them in. You’ll get 3GPP, MPEG4 (not Xvid/Divx support) and H.264 support for low bitrates and resolutions (sub 720p/1Mbps) but that’s it. Software players such as RockPlayer add new codecs in but the CPU isn’t powerful enough to deliver anything above about 1Mbps. Disappointing.
  • User Interface and touch – While not up there with the best ‘physical’ user interfaces, this is a reasonable capacitive touch experience and fine for everyday use. It’s a lot better than a resistive touchscreen for this type of finger usage.
  • On screen keyboard – Typical of loaded Android systems on ARM11 CPUs, the response on the keyboard slows down if there are other things happening around the device. Coupled with a rather ugly layout (we loaded ‘Better Keyboard’ and found it, better!) and a hit-rate that doesn’t come close to the Galaxy Tab or Apple iOS devices, we can’t recommend it for anything more than micro-mails, tweets, SMS and other short-form messaging.

On the positive side, we saw great 3D performance in synthetic tests and games with Angry Birds and Raging Thunder Lite working perfectly. There are other high-points too.

3G throughput in our tests was good. We haven’t tested reception performance.

.Viewsonic Viewpad 7 (14)

Battery life. In our 1-hour test with screen, Wi-Fi, GSM enabled and under testing conditions saw the battery drop 15% indicating a 6-hour heavy-use run-time. It matches the Viewsonic specs and in the rest of our testing over the last few days we were also seeing similar battery performance. We estimate the battery life to be 10-15% less than the Galaxy Tab but still, very good. Charging over USB is a slow process. Expect 8-9hrs for a full charge over a standard USB cable. We can’t get the supplied charger to work through our UK-EU adaptor but we’re told it does enable a ‘fast charge’ mode of around 3hrs.

Speaker quality is good which makes the Viewpad 7 perfect for radio, MP3 and podcast duties around the house. In a 20-minute speakerphone call, quality was very high. We also made a successful Skype call without headphones.

Other points

  • No heat or noise
  • Quadrant scores around the 250 mark
  • Launcher Pro works well (and is recommended) as a home-screen alternative. It enables portrait mode homescreen which the standard build doesn’t.

Example Launcher-Pro Setup

  • YouTube (tested with the latest player available in the Market) works flawlessly
  • Neocore benchmark returned 32 fps
  • Kindle reader and the pre-installed Aldiko reader work well.
  • PDF reading with the included, full version of Documents To Go, worked well
  • Again, note that Flash 10.1 is not available for ARM11 devices such as this
  • The Viewpad 7 is slightly smaller (about 4mm in width and depth) than the galaxy Tab. Same thickness. Same weight.
  • Storage on the device is limited to 512MB and after installing 20 applications, we were down to 24MB of storage space. Inserting an SD card is necessary in order to move some applications over (where possible) and to store audio, image and video files.
  • Wifi reception was average (b/g standards) We haven’t tested Bluetooth
  • Hotspot mode works. (Wifi sharing of 3G connection – We expect 8-10hrs on this mode with screen off)
  • No stand. (Update below)
  • Case is plastic
  • No USB On-The-Go
  • GPS locked quickly (sub 10 seconds with A-GPS enabled) indoors, 1M from a Window
  • No video out (digital or analogue)
  • Skyfire (and included flash video playback) works

Update: Case will change for final retail versions.

Viewsonic notified me that the case has been re-designed for the final version. Its good to see that it now includes ‘standing’ capability.

At £400 we find the Viewpad fairly priced. If you’re in the UK and have a working netbook or laptop you want to trade-in, Viewsonic retail partners will give you 100 pounds cash-back which makes it tempting if that old EeePC 701 is gathering dust for you. Ultimately though, Viewsonic need to capitalise on the fact that this is a well-rounded ‘value’ tablet with a complete feature set, today. In 3 months time when Android devices 2.3 appear, when ARM11 becomes ‘end of line’ for some applications, when high-end applications start demanding more of a CPU and when the market fills with other device options, it may not look so attractive and at that point Viewsonic and their retailers will have to compete in a price war. We say, ‘take the risk’ and drop the price by 50 pounds to capitalise on holiday-season buying and make this an even more attractive package. Throw in a 4GB micro SD card, a cleaning cloth and maybe a free version of ‘launcher pro’ to solve that portrait mode homescreen limitation and you’ve got yourself a great little mobile internet device.

Continued on page 2…

Viewsonic Viewpad 7 Live Review – Videos and Detailed Impressions

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We’ve had the (final version) Viewsonic Viewpad 7 for 2 days now and last night we completed 3hrs of live testing in front of an audience of 480 people. We’re now in a good position to be able to bring you a good round-up review of the device. Live recordings of the stream are embedded below. Unboxing video is here. Thanks to Viewsonic Europe for sending the device over. UK customers can find details of a trade-in offer and retailers here.

Overall quality of the £400 pound tablet is good and we feel that Viewsonic have got the price/quality ratio right. This is a lot more than a £200 open-source Android tablet here and less than a £500 high-end 7 inch Tablet (e.g. Galaxy Tab) and it sits alone as the cheapest 7 inch 3G+Voice Google Android tablet on the market. ‘Google’ means that it really does have everything that you find on a Google Android phone including voice capability, compass, GPS, compass, capacitive touchscreen and the latest Android software.  So why is the Viewpad 7 cheaper than the Galaxy Tab then?

Viewsonic Viewpad 7 (7) Viewsonic Viewpad 7 (8)
Click to enlarge. More in the gallery.

Let’s start with the processor that tricked me. I was originally told it was a Snapdragon CPU at 600Mhz but despite some reasonable Web performance, it turned out to be an ARM11-based device. In real-use yesterday I was still quite happy with the browsing speeds and although I would never recommend anyone get an ARM11-based device for serious web work, when laid-back in a passive usage mode, it’s quite acceptable. You’ll see some browser tests in part 3 of the video review below. The GPU, Adreno 200 – the same as that found on the Snapdragon platform, is probably helping a lot here because UI actions seem smooth, if not ‘physical’ like the iPad.  Android 2.2 helps too. It’s a far more efficient build than 2.1 and helps to pull everything possible out of the platform. This is probably as good as we’ll ever see on an ARM11-based device and at this point it has to be said that this is the best ARM11-based mobile internet device I’ve ever used.

Full specifications, gallery, news and more in our Viewpad 7 tracking page.

There are more hints of ‘value’ though that don’t hide themselves so well:

  • Screen – At 800×480 this isn’t the sharpest. Although Android apps are only designed for up to 800×480 screen, there are photos, videos, ebooks and browser pages to consider. A full-screen, page-to-fit web page is not easily readable and will require a pinch or double-click to zoom to readable quality. It’s bright enough but there are differing results from vertical and portrait viewing angles. This is a typical horizontal-optimised LCD. I won’t go into detail here but portrait mode is not perfect. Text seems to stretch vertically too indicating that the pixels aren’t square. It’s a good screen, but not top-of-class.
    Note: After measuring the screen, pixels are indeed not square. Resolution ratio: 1.666:1  Size Ratio: 1.78:1
  • CPU – Mentioned above. Don’t expect to squeeze much more out of this CPU in the future. There are already applications that aren’t supported on this CPU (Flash for example)
  • Software – This is, to all intents and purposes, a raw Android experience. Some people will prefer this and at least the Market is there to help. In the live review we downloaded and installed about 15 applications suggested by viewers in less than 10 minutes. Try doing that on a Windows 7 laptop!
  • Camera – The 3.0MP camera shouldn’t be regarded as anything more than a snapshot device and the results show high grain and huge traces of plastic lens. It’s easy to smudge fingerprints over the camera lens too so quality can degrade even further. Videos aren’t anything to get excited about either.
  • Video Playback – There are quite a few video formats out there and each has variable bitrate and ‘profile’ levels. Codecs cost money and Viewsonic have chosen not to add them in. You’ll get 3GPP, MPEG4 (not Xvid/Divx support) and H.264 support for low bitrates and resolutions (sub 720p/1Mbps) but that’s it. Software players such as RockPlayer add new codecs in but the CPU isn’t powerful enough to deliver anything above about 1Mbps. Disappointing.
  • User Interface and touch – While not up there with the best ‘physical’ user interfaces, this is a reasonable capacitive touch experience and fine for everyday use. It’s a lot better than a resistive touchscreen for this type of finger usage.
  • On screen keyboard – Typical of loaded Android systems on ARM11 CPUs, the response on the keyboard slows down if there are other things happening around the device. Coupled with a rather ugly layout (we loaded ‘Better Keyboard’ and found it, better!) and a hit-rate that doesn’t come close to the Galaxy Tab or Apple iOS devices, we can’t recommend it for anything more than micro-mails, tweets, SMS and other short-form messaging.

On the positive side, we saw great 3D performance in synthetic tests and games with Angry Birds and Raging Thunder Lite working perfectly. There are other high-points too.

3G throughput in our tests was good. We haven’t tested reception performance.

.Viewsonic Viewpad 7 (14)

Battery life. In our 1-hour test with screen, Wi-Fi, GSM enabled and under testing conditions saw the battery drop 15% indicating a 6-hour heavy-use run-time. It matches the Viewsonic specs and in the rest of our testing over the last few days we were also seeing similar battery performance. We estimate the battery life to be 10-15% less than the Galaxy Tab but still, very good. Charging over USB is a slow process. Expect 8-9hrs for a full charge over a standard USB cable. We can’t get the supplied charger to work through our UK-EU adaptor but we’re told it does enable a ‘fast charge’ mode of around 3hrs.

Speaker quality is good which makes the Viewpad 7 perfect for radio, MP3 and podcast duties around the house. In a 20-minute speakerphone call, quality was very high. We also made a successful Skype call without headphones.

Other points

  • No heat or noise
  • Quadrant scores around the 250 mark
  • Launcher Pro works well (and is recommended) as a home-screen alternative. It enables portrait mode homescreen which the standard build doesn’t.

Example Launcher-Pro Setup

  • YouTube (tested with the latest player available in the Market) works flawlessly
  • Neocore benchmark returned 32 fps
  • Kindle reader and the pre-installed Aldiko reader work well.
  • PDF reading with the included, full version of Documents To Go, worked well
  • Again, note that Flash 10.1 is not available for ARM11 devices such as this
  • The Viewpad 7 is slightly smaller (about 4mm in width and depth) than the galaxy Tab. Same thickness. Same weight.
  • Storage on the device is limited to 512MB and after installing 20 applications, we were down to 24MB of storage space. Inserting an SD card is necessary in order to move some applications over (where possible) and to store audio, image and video files.
  • Wifi reception was average (b/g standards) We haven’t tested Bluetooth
  • Hotspot mode works. (Wifi sharing of 3G connection – We expect 8-10hrs on this mode with screen off)
  • No stand. (Update below)
  • Case is plastic
  • No USB On-The-Go
  • GPS locked quickly (sub 10 seconds with A-GPS enabled) indoors, 1M from a Window
  • No video out (digital or analogue)
  • Skyfire (and included flash video playback) works

Update: Case will change for final retail versions.

Viewsonic notified me that the case has been re-designed for the final version. Its good to see that it now includes ‘standing’ capability.

At £400 we find the Viewpad fairly priced. If you’re in the UK and have a working netbook or laptop you want to trade-in, Viewsonic retail partners will give you 100 pounds cash-back which makes it tempting if that old EeePC 701 is gathering dust for you. Ultimately though, Viewsonic need to capitalise on the fact that this is a well-rounded ‘value’ tablet with a complete feature set, today. In 3 months time when Android devices 2.3 appear, when ARM11 becomes ‘end of line’ for some applications, when high-end applications start demanding more of a CPU and when the market fills with other device options, it may not look so attractive and at that point Viewsonic and their retailers will have to compete in a price war. We say, ‘take the risk’ and drop the price by 50 pounds to capitalise on holiday-season buying and make this an even more attractive package. Throw in a 4GB micro SD card, a cleaning cloth and maybe a free version of ‘launcher pro’ to solve that portrait mode homescreen limitation and you’ve got yourself a great little mobile internet device.

Continued on page 2…

Motorola Droid X Unboxing

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droid x The Droid X [portal page] just showed up today and we’ve got a quick unboxing with more coverage coming soon! Check it out:

Motorola Droid X Unboxed, Now Tracking in the Portal

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droid x I’ve been quite surprised by how many of my non-tech friends have heard of the Motorola Droid X. Generally I’ve found that non-techies pretty much only recognize the iPhone, but Verizon must be doing a decent job of marketing upcoming devices here in the US.

Tnkgrl, who always seems to have her hands on the latest smartphones, has graced us with a great Droid X unboxing. You can find one of her videos below (for the other, click through to her site for the first power-on video).

One of the most surprising things that you’ll probably find is how large the Droid X is. The HTC Incredible, iPhone 4, and Nexus One all look quite tiny by comparison. The screen is a whopping 4.3 inch and the only current smartphone screen that I know of that surpasses it is the Dell Streak’s 4.8 inch screen [Portal page].

In addition to the videos, tnkgrl has a bunch of great shots of the device in a flickr slideshow.

If you want a detailed run-down of the Droid X’s specs, check out our Droid X tracking page in the Portal. There has been some initial confusion over what CPU the Droid X uses, but we’ve confirmed it to be a 1GHz Ti OMAP 3630 CPU. The Droid X specs that you’ll find in the Portal are from an official source, and not cobbled together from rumors.

Engadget Previews the Motorola Droid X

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motoroladroidxengadget01

Joanna Stern of Engadget has a thorough preview of the upcoming Motorola Droid X, and man… does that thing look huge!

As we see smartphones and MIDs continue to become one in the same, smartphones are getting ever larger; good news for the rather large Dell Streak [Portal page]. The Motorola Droid X has a 4.4 inch screen with an 854×480 resolution, which is nearly an inch larger than the iPhone 4’s 3.5 inch screen [Portal page]. Here’s a list of unofficial specs for the Droid X:

  • Android 2.1 with a custom Motorola (MotoBlur) interface
  • 4.4 inch capacitive screen @ 854×480
  • 8 MP camera 720p HD recording capable
  • 1GHz  ARMv7 CPU (Engadget guesses OMAP3630)

Verizon is going to be officially announcing the Droid X on June 23rd (a day before the iPhone 4 goes on sale, what a coincidence!) , so I’m sure we’ll see full specs then. Jump through to Engadget’s article for some videos of the Droid X in action, and check out their galleries:

Dell Streak Live Session Videos

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Here are the video recordings for the Dell Streak live session I did this evening. Thanks to the people in the chat room who asked questions, answered questions and corrected my errors! We had over 300 people drop in for the session. Note that Ustream playback features often get overloaded in the U.S. afternoon/evening so be patient!

Session 1, 17 mins, includes an overview of the device, specifications and some initial impressions.

Session 2, 50 minutes, includes an overview of the keyboard, browsing, video, music and camera.

More information on the Dell Streak in the information page.

Dell Streak First Impressions

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Thanks to JKKMobile, I’ve had a Dell Streak for a few days and ahead of the live review session tonight, it’s time to give you some first impressions.

IMG_3708

I don’t have a full retail version here so it’s only fair to point out that the firmware isn’t final on the device but having said that, it’s close, it’s useable and actually, it’s quite good!

Starting with the look and feel, it’s a great first five minutes. The glass screen blends nicely into the glossy, stylish casing. The shiny metal rear only helps to make you feel you’ve got a quality device in your hands. Compared to the Archos 5, it’s a step ahead. The 5 inch (true 5 inch – bigger than the Archos 5) screen looks stunning with blacks and clarity that you’ll never see on a resistive touchscreen device and rarely see on a smartphone. In portrait mode you get get a comfortable one-handed experience that serves very well for reading Tweets, Google Reader, Emails, maps and ebooks. This is a very very nice 30-50cm one-handed experience. Flip the device round into landscape mode and you move into a more productive stance with the on-screen thumboard providing good input capability. The keyboard is offset due to having a numeric pad on the right side but I’m getting used to it and finding the numeric pad to be as good as a 5th row. It’s a shame there’s no stand though. 5 inch is good for seat-back videos.

Sizing is going to be a major issue for most on the Streak. My wife loves it and wants to upgrade to it as her phone straight away but she, like many other women, keeps her phone in her bag. For those that keep their phone in their pocket, you’ll have to think about it carefully because it’s not that comfortable. Holding the device to the ear might be a problem for some too as it’s relatively huge but for me, someone that doesn’t use voice that much and would be proud to show off the device, that’s not an issue.

In terms of specifications, the Streak impresses with a 1Ghz Snapdragon processing platform, 5MP cam with dual-LED flash, 2GB storage, micro-SD slot (no hot-swap), GSM, UMTS, Wifi and BT connectivity, compass, GPS, ambient light sensor, accelerometer and capacative Android buttons on the frame. There isn’t a dedicated search button but you will find a two-stage shutter focus/release button and a volume rocker switch. All seem to be high quality.

As for software and usability, I’m loving it. Browsing is (relative to other smartphones) in the top league and the user interface is fast and fluid. Having the full Google Android experience makes so much difference and it highlights the major issue with what i’m calling ‘unfinished Android products’ like the Archos 5. The included photo and video application is welcome although it lacks codec support. I was impressed that it could play back a 6.5Mbps WMV 720p file that most netbooks would choke on. I was less impressed that it couldn’t handle some H.264 files, Divx and a few other files I have in my test suite. The Archos wins that round!

As for battery life, it’s looking better than expected. Despite the large screen, it runs for about the same amount of time as the Xperia X10 which, in turn is an hour or so behind the HTC Desire. You’ll need to take the (proprietary) USB charging cable though, a back-up battery or a back-up phone!

It isn’t all good though because the Streak highlights the big problem with Android. The browser is not up to scratch. Go to Google Docs to try and do some work and you’re met with a brick wall.

IMG_3709

This isn’t the Streak’s fault, it’s just that Android doesn’t offer a full internet experience yet and with the Dell Streak being so big and Internet-centric, you’l hit these brick walls more often than on other devices. It’s not good enough and getting the full browser experience (including Flash) needs to be a top priority.

Other notes:

  • GPS doesnt appear to have A-GPS support in this firmware but Android uses Google Location to assist applications. Full GPS capabilites take a little longer to sync-up than with other phones i’ve used.
  • Mono speaker is clear
  • Screen brightness is very good. You can use this for short-term sessions in the sun.
  • Camera is typical Android – OK in daylight – Poor in low-light.
  • Video, in daylight, is reasonable quality. Here’s a sample although it appears to have lost some quality in conversion to YouTube. The original H.264 file is better.

Overall, the Streak is performing as expected. It’s an interesting take on convergence although one gets the feeling that voice is only there to satisfy Googles applications-suite requirements. If you compare it to Nokia’s take on convergence which centers around a smaller screen, you get the feeling that this form-factor is better. Of course I’d like a slider keyboard on the Streak but I’m prepared to take a hit in this case because I might go and buy a retail version of this to replace my Xperia X10. There’s still room for improvement in the camera department but despite that, I’d still call the Dell Streak the best mobile internet device yet. As for it’s use as a phone, that’s up to you. I’ll just be dropping a data card into this and continuing to carry my N82 for voice, SMS and the Xenon-powered night-time camera.

IMG_3707

More information, links (including a few early reviews of full retail versions) available in the information page.

Jkk Goes Hands-on with the Dell Streak (aka Mini 5)

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dell mini 5 jkk Jkk seems to have gotten his hands on the official European version of the Dell Streak [Portal page] (aka the Dell Mini 5) which launches soon in Europe. He has a thorough 24 minute video walkthrough with the device which you can find over at his site.

A few notes about the device from Jkk:

– I would like it to have a kick stand on it

– Dell UI is ok but I think I still would go with standard Android

– It should have a micro usb port for charging.. I hate carrying custom cables

– Waiting for Android 2.2 will feel looooong.

– Battery life seems better than I thought.. more testing needed..

And a few thoughts of my own after watching his walkthrough:

  • Headphone jack position couldn’t be worse. The device is already very big, if people are expected to walk around with the Dell Streak in their pocket, having a headphone jack stick out the side of the device while in the pocket will be very annoying.
  • The fact that the Dell Streak is only running Android 1.6 is really disappointing. This is what happens when you take months and months and months to get a product to market. Presumably it’ll get Android 2.2 eventually, but that won’t happen until Dell gets around to integrating their custom Android interface into 2.2, then deploying it to customers. The sad part is that the Dell Streak is as a disadvantage out of the gate, simply because it isn’t running the latest firmware.

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