Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2013 - 11:19 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: toshiba excite write, toshiba, tegra 4, computex 2013, computex, Android
Computex Taipei is not only about gaming notebooks, desktops, and PC components; it is also about tablets!
One such tablet to make its debut at Computex 2013 is the Excite Write from Toshiba. It is a 10.1" dockable tablet with a touchscreen, 8MP rear camera, Harmon Kardon audio, and best of all, an active Wacom digitizer with 1024 pressure sensitivity levels. The 10.1" Gorilla Glass 2 touchscreen has an impressive resolution of 2560 x 1600, which is the same resolution as Google's Nexus 10 tablet. The Write tablet can be docked with the same keyboard case/dock that the Toshiba Excite Pro uses. The Excite Write runs Android 4.2 and comes pre-loaded with Toshiba's TruNote and TruCapture note taking applications.
Internally, the Excite is powered by a quad core NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC and 32GB of internal storage (can be expanded with a microSD card),
Toshiba will begin selling the 10.1" Excite Write for $600 next month. Providing the build quality is up to par, it looks like a decent option for students wanting something lightweight but capable, especially with more class material moving online or to eBook formats.
Read more about Tegra 4 at PC Perspective!
Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2013 - 03:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, optimus f5, LG, jelly bean, Android
LG has launched a new Android smartphone with 4G LTE connectivity. The new LG Optimus F5 is available in France now, and will be rolled out worldwide later this month. It measures 126 x 64.5 x 93mm and comes in either glossy white or piano black. Its specifications are not anything surprising, but this is not a new flagship smartphone. Rather, LG is positioning the mobile device as an affordable LTE smartphone.
On the outside, the LG Optimus F5 features a 4.3” IPS qHD display with a resolution of 960x540 (256 PPI). Above the display is a 1.3MP webcam while the rear of the smartphone hosts a 5MP camera with autofocus.
Internally, the LG Optimus F5 is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC clocked at 1.2GHz, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. LG is using a beefy 2,150 mAh battery which should give it decent battery life even when connected to 4G LTE networks. The phone also supports microSD cards for expandable storage up to 32GB. The Optimus F5 is running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.
The new Optimus F5 smartphone will be available soon in France and worldwide towards the end of May. LG has not yet released specific pricing information, however.
Subject: General Tech | April 27, 2013 - 12:42 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wearable computing, ti omap, omap 4430, google glasses, android 4.0.4, Android
Earlier this month, Google announced some of the key specifications of its Google Glass project. However, the company left out just how much RAM the device would have or what the exact System on a Chip (SoC) would power the Android device.
Now that the Google Glass glasses are making their way to developers, those as-yet-unknown details are fairly-certain. Google Glass developer Jay Lee managed to access the device using ADB and discovered that the device offered up 682MB of RAM (accessible to developers) and a Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 SoC. Google Glass likely has 1GB of total RAM, but the operating system and other necessary device-level processes are likely responsible for reserving the remaining 342MB chunk of RAM. The TI OMAP 4430 is the same SoC that is powering the Amazon Kindle Fire and a number of other mobile devices released last year. Because of battery life constraints, Google is most likely not running the chip at its maximum 1GHz clock speed. In the Google+ discussion, developer Kevin Fitch speculated that it is likely clocked at 600MHz due to the cores’ BogoMIPS scores.
The remaining Google Glass specifications include Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream sandwich), 16GB of internal storage, a 5MP camera, and support for both 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It is essentially a mid-range smartphone hidden away inside a pair of glasses. At $1500, the first round of Google Glass was solely for developers, but once Google rolls it into production next year, judging by the internals, it should be much cheaper.
Are you excited for Google Glass? If you are curious about the software or hardware, Jay Lee is taking questions on his Google + thread.
Subject: Mobile | April 12, 2013 - 04:58 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wevideo, video editor, Android
An online video editing company called WeVideo recently added an Android app to its services. The new WeVideo Android application allows users to capture, edit, and share videos taken by a number of Android 4.2 smartphones and tablets.
Video that has been captured by your phone can be edited, trimmed, stylized, saved to the phone, and published to Youtube, Vimeo, and the company’s own WeVideo site. The video editor also syncs with the WeVideo browser editor and will allow you to capture video on your phone and then edit it on other computers in the online editor. Once published, the app also gives you the option to post a link to Facebook and Twitter that leads to the video.
You can select multiple clips and arrange them on a timeline. The clips can be trimmed and volume can be adjusted. Once on the timeline, you can apply automated styles that include background music, transitions, filters, titles, and effects.
According to WeVideo, the Android video editor is compatible with the following devices:
- Samsung Galaxy S4 (upcoming phone)
- HTC One (upcoming phone)
- Samsung Galaxy S III
- Samsung Galaxy Note
- Samsung Galaxy Note II
- Google Nexus
- Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX HD
- HTC Droid DN
- Sony Xperia S
- Sony Xperia Z
The app is a free download from the Google Play store (which recently got a facelift).
You can grab it here.
Overall, it seems to have good reviews, but it does have its share of 1-star reviews as well (as pretty much every app does heh). If you have been looking for an Android-equivalent to iMovie this might be a good option -- especially since it’s free.
Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 02:45 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: google play, google, froyo, appstore, Android
Google has begun a worldwide rollout of its re-designed Google Play store for Android smartphones and tablets. Over the next few weeks, users will be presented with a new, and simplified, user interface for the Play store.
Mobile devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above will recieve the update. The redesign has moved to a simpler layout that groups similar content together and uses larger images to draw in the user's attention. A continuous scroll feature will introduce recommendations for related content as you scroll down.
Google has also reportedly simplified the checkout process, in order to reduce the time between buying an app, purchasing an MP3, or renting a movie and actually being able to begin consuming the content.
From Google's blog post and what little screenshots they have shown off of the new layout, I think Google has made some positive changes here, but I'll reserve final judgement once I've been able to test it out for myself.
Has your Android device received the Play store update yet?
Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 12:46 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zte, geek, Android, android 4.2, clover trail, Intel, idf, atom z2580
The ZTE Geek is not quite ready for release, but the internals are now official. Specifications include a dual core Intel Atom Z2580 processor clocked at 2GHz (HyperThreading allows 4 total threads), an integrated SGX 544MP2 GPU clocked at 533MHz, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. A 2300 mAh battery provides power for the device and can be recharged wirelessly in the ZTE Geek.
Engadget goes hands-on with the ZTE Geek at IDF in Beijing, China.
On the outside, The ZTE Geek features a 5" capacitive multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1280x720 and Gorilla Glass protection. There is a 1MP fixed focus webcam above the display, and an 8MP camera with auto-focus and LED flash on the rear of the device.
The Geek smartphone is compatible with the following wireless connections:
- GSM: 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
- UMTS: 900 / 2100 MHz
WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n at 2.4GHz
- DLNA, Wireles hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, and Wi-Fi Display
- Bluetooth 3.0 LE
- GPS (AGPS)
It also offers up an accelerometer, proximity, ambient light, compass, and gyro sensors. Engadget reports that the device on display at IDF is merely a prototype, and the glossy white finish and chassis material is subject to change. Naturally, there is no word yet on pricing, or when it will be released. The smartphone will likely not see an initial US release, however (if past Atom-powered phones are any indication).
What do you think about the ZTE Geek's design and specs? Personally, I'm still pining for the Lenovo K900 (another Clover Trail+ powered smartphone) to see a US release heh.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 6, 2013 - 09:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webkit, Blink, Android, Google Chrome, ChromeOS
There once was a web browser named Konqueror which was quite common in the Linux community. At its core was the KHTML rendering engine, a nice standards-compliant layout package; KHTML was so nice that Apple decided to create WebKit based on it. Since then, WebKit has been the basis of Google Chrome and other applications such as Steam as of a few years ago.
And even though the project maybe never be done, Google stuck a fork in it.
Blink is a new layout engine, based on WebKit, soon to be implemented in Google Chrome. By soon, I mean practically the next release. It stands to reason, too: a forked project by definition starts out looking nearly identical because they both start from the same point. The two projects will be able to evolve in different directions as each begin to differ in needs and desires.
So what does it mean? Firstly, web developers do not need to worry about a new vendor-prefix until at least Google starts to worry about one. According to their above Q&A, they currently seem more interested in reducing prefix support rather than adding new ones. Personally, I expect that at some point they will likely need to add some as standards evolve.
In terms of the future: I feel that multiple rendering engines will only be better for the future of the web. Sure, it can be difficult for web developers to test their products across a variety of devices but that is a drop in the bucket compared to the misery caused when a dominant player gets complacent. A noncompeting player will stop innovating and maybe pull away from open standards.
Then again this pretty much always happens: no-one is satisfied with monopolies. Thankfully the WebKit license made it easy for dissatisfied parties to take action. In turn, WebKit can benefit from many of these developments at their leisure, particularly before their products look too dissimilar.
Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2013 - 10:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ice storm extreme, ice storm, Futuremark, benchmarking, Android, 3dmark
Futuremark recently unveiled its latest 3DMark benchmarking suite for Android devices. Compatible with over 1,000 devices, the new 3DMark is a free benchmark that incorporates both the Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme tests. The benchmark was developed by Futuremark in cooperation with a number of industry companies including Broadcom, Imagination Technologies, Intel, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm. The Ice Storm Extreme test is also coming to the Windows version of 3DMark, and the tests can be used to compare benchmark scores across platforms.
Both the benchmarking tests are based on OpenGL ES 2.0. Ice Storm runs through two graphical tests to stress the GPU and one physics test to measure CPU performance. The ice Storm Extreme benchmark takes things further by bumping up the resolution to 1080 and swapping in higher quality textures and post processing effects.
The benchmark is compatible with a number of mobile smartphones and tablets running Android 3.1 or higher. It is a free download from the Google Play store.
The iOS and Windows RT versions of 3DMark are still in development. More information can be found in the press release.
Read more about Futuremark's 3DMark benchmarking suite at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2013 - 07:17 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: web browser, mobile, chrome, Android
Chrome for Android will allegedly be getting a speed boost thanks to a new SPDY-assisted proxy service. If a recent patch is any indication, future versions of Chrome may adopt a proxy service similar to Opera Turbo, Amazon Silk, or BlackBerry Proxy. Google would take advantage of its SPDY protocol to compress and multiplex web sites. We requests would be sent through Google, where Google would take the HTTP/HTTPS pages, compress and otherwise optimize them, and send them to your Android smartphone.
While on Wi-Fi or a wired connection, the performance merits of such proxy services are minimal at best (and at worst can actually slow down page loads). With that said, over a mobile network--especially if you are living in an area with (at best) 3G speeds, the new SPDY proxy service could make a huge difference in page load times. If my experiences using Opera and its Turbo proxy service over a 3G connection for the past month is any indication of the potential benefits of such a setup, some pages will load much faster, a few sites will actually load slower than browsing without the proxy, and the majority of websites will fall somewhere in between those two extremes, providing a slightly faster web browsing experience. Google may be taking things a step further by introducing its SPDY protocol to speed up the HTTP requests, which is an interesting tactic beyond the basic compression and/or caching that the existing alternatives employ.
Details on the hinted-at Google-run SPDY proxy service are scarce, but I hope that it holds true. There are some privacy considerations, but if you are just reading articles and have resigned yourself to the fact that Chrome/Google tracks you anyway (heh) it is a nice optional feature to have!
Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2013 - 10:37 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphones, LTE, LG, Android
LG recently announced that it has sold 10 million smartphones equipped with LTE (Long Term Evolution) radios. That number is merely a small slice of the total 90.9 million LTE phones shipped in 2012 by all manufacturers, but it is an impressive number for the South Korean company.
LG attributes its record sales to is flagship Optimus G and other LTE smartphones being launched in the United States, Japan, Germany, and South Korea. LG smartphones are still somewhat rare in the US, with Samsung and HTC dominating the Android options here. Still, it is nice to see additional competition, and hopefully LG will make itself more widely known in North America.
Through 2013, LG expects to double its market penetration with new LTE smartphones in additional emerging markets. Surprisingly, research firm Strategy Analytics estimates that global LTE smartphone shipments will grow Year over Year 202.5% to 275 million units. That is quite the jump from 2012’s 90.9 million LTE smartphones! According to LG, part of the company’s plan to contribute to that estimated shipment number is to introduce two new smartphones in the Optimus F series, and to roll-out the existing Optimus G to 50 additional countries.
The two new Optimus F smartphones feature LTE radios, IPS displays, large displays, and beefy batteries. The Optimus F7 has a 4.7” (312 PPI) IPS display, 1.5GHz dual core SoC, 2540 mAh battery, and 2GB of RAM. The Optimus F5, on the other hand, has a 4.3” (256 PPI) IPS display, 1.2GHz dual core SoC, 2150 mAh battery, and 1GB of RAM.
It remains to be seen whether or not LG can reach its goal, but I am hopeful that the company will at least be able to give the other Android smartphone makers a run for their money with new phone designs.
You can find the full press release over at Engadget.