Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apple to unveil the new iPad on March 7

As expected Apple will be unveiling there next iPad in March 2012, the iPad 2 having been launched on March 3, 2011. 

The date has been set for March 7. The new iPad is expected to feature a higher screen resolution, a faster processor and graphics chip, and LTE connectivity. On the software side, the new iPad is expected to integrate Siri.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD - Taking aim at the iPad 3

Huawei has announced a new tablet at the Mobile World Congress 2012. It is not something we did not expect, it is just we did not expect Huawei to be the one to release it. The Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD an Android 4.0 tablet which has a 10.1-inch full HD display with a 1900 x 1200 screen resolution. Inside it packs a 1.5 GHz quad core processor with Huawei's own K3V2 chipset. It also ups the ante with 2 GB of RAM. Internal storage is a modest 8 GB, but it is expandable via a MicroSD card slot.

The tablets is 8.8 mm thin, same as the Apple iPad 2 and weighs in a 598 g., a hair lighter than the iPad 2. It is expected to come out in WiFi only, 3G and LTE variants.

We do expect the Apple iPad "3" to be announced in two weeks, and actually hit the market earlier than the Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD. It should offer similar specifications, with a full HD screen a quad core processor. Still, with its in-house chipset and high end specifications it looks like Huawei is not going to give up its China market without a fight, and it looks to take down some of its Android competition in the process too.

Huawei Ascend D quad & quad XL - Making waves at MWC 2012

While the HTC and LG offerings at Mobile World Congress 2012 offered up what you expect, Huawei which has been manufacturing low cost Android phones has come up with a new offering which is the most interesting flagship Android announced in Barcelona. 

As expected of a  flagship Android 4.0 phones, both the Huawei Ascend D quad & quad XL both have large 4.5-inch 720p (720 x 480 displays), 1 GB of RAM, and adequate amount of internal storage, 8 MP cameras and HSDPA 21.1+ connectivity. 

The Huawei Ascend D quad is a slim 8.9 mm and packs a 1.2 GHz quadcore processor and 1800 mAh battery. The Huawei Ascend D quad XL is a thicker 10.9 mm but comes with a faster quad core 1.5 GHz processor and a larger 250m mAh battery. 

What makes this phones interesting is that they do not pack Nvidia's Tegra 3 but Huawei's own K3V2 chipset which Huawei claims is faster than the Tegra 3 and uses 30% less power. Whether this holds up to be true or not, Huawei has joined Apple and Samsung as mobile phone manufacturers which design their own AMR based chips for the devices they sell. Like Samsung, Huawei manufactures these chips in-house.  

Looks like Huawei is really setting its sites on moving up in the smartphone world in 2012.

Sony Xperia U, P, and S

In 2011, Sony Ericsson did not release a dual core handset. It looks like the newly formed Sony Mobile Communications still is not getting into the smartphones arm race. 

The Sony Xperia S announced at the Consumer Electronics is powered by dual core 1.5 GHz scorpion processor and Adreno 220 graphic processing unit, which is basically the hardware you find in last years HTC Sensation XE. 

The other specifications are more in line with what is expected for a 2012 flagship phone. The Xperia S has a high resolution 4.3-inch 720p display. The camera is an impressive 12 MP shooter. The Xperia S also comes with 32 GB  internal storage, but it does not come with a MicroSD Card slot.

The announcement of the Xperia U and P at the Mobile World Congress confirms that Sony is not getting into the smartphones arm race in 2012 either. No Sony quad core phones have been announced.

Xperia U

Screen: 3.5-inch, 480 x 854
Processor: Dual Core 1 GHz, NovaThor U8500 chipset
RAM: 512 MB
Storage: 4 GB non expandable
HSDPA Connectivity: 14.4 Mbps
Primary Camera: 5 MP, LED Flash
Video: 720p
Secondary Camera: VGA
Battery: 1320 mAh

Xperia P

Screen: 4-inch, 540 x 960
Processor: Dual Core 1 GHz, NovaThor U8500 chipset
Storage: 16 GB non expandable
HSDPA Connectivity: 14.4 Mbps
Primary Camera: 8 MP, LED Flash
Video: 1080p
Secondary Camera: VGA
Battery: 1300 mAh

For some reason or other all these phones are supposedly going to be launched with Gingerbread, upgradeable to Android 4.0. I think they will launch with ICS off the bat.

We can help but mention that the new styling of Xperia line is distinctive and attractive.

Sony is battling at the mid-level, and phones like the Sony Ericsson Neo V and Live with Walkman have been our value for money propositions for the past few months. Priced correctly, Sony new offerings could continue to do the same.

LG Optimus 4X HD P880 - As expected

We have been less the impressed with LG's L-styled Optimus L3 and Optimus L5, and details on the L7 are few. Has it been a bad showing for LG so far. LG Optimus 4X HD P880 is the phone that LG is looking at to carry its brand in 2012.

On paper, it compares well with HTC's new flagship, the One X. Both phones are powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad core processor with 1 GB of RAM. Both phone have 4.7-inch 720p (720 x1280) IPS displays. Both phone have 8 MP cameras. Both phones run on Android 4.0 but have opted to retain dedicated capacitative buttons instead of using the one screen only buttons of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

The LG Optimus 4X HD P880 is actually a bit thinner at 8.9 mm as compared to the HTC One X 9.3 mm but I do not think anybody will notice. What is impressive though is that the LG Optimus 4X HD P880 will reportedly be coming with a 2150 mAh battery as compared to the 1800 mAh battery on the HTC One X. 

The HTC One X will comes with 32 GB of internal storage, but without a MicroSD card slow. The LG Optimus 4X HD P880 will come with 16 GB of internal storage and it is not yet certain whether this will be expandable with a MicroSD card slot. Like several other LG phones it does not seem like the specifications for this one are finalized yet. Still LG Optimus 4X HD P880 are as expected, which is  relief considering our disappointment with the Optimus L3 and L5.

LG Optimus 5 - Underwhelming

LG showcased the new styling of its L style phones just before the start of the Mobile World Congress. The entry level L style phone, the LG Optimus L3 was underwhelming. It is basically a direct competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Y, released six months later. With a 240 x 320 display and running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) the only thing that could make this phone interesting is a very low retail price.

The bigger brother of the LG Optimus L3, the L5 is similarly disappoints. The LG Optimus L5 runs on Android 4.0, but after that the other specifications disappoint. It packs a large 4-inch screen with a disappointingly low 320 x 480 screen resolution. Inside it has an 800 MHz processor and packs a 5 MP autofocus camera. 

We are expecting this phone to be price at around the Php8,000-9,000 range. Any more, and it will be overpriced. Priced correctly, it may have some draw as providing the largest screen at the price point. The low 144 ppi pixel density is going to make the display look a bit pixelated.

Nokia 808 PureView

The Nokia 808 PureView has the most ambitious camera ever placed on a phone. The camera on the Nokia 808 PureView has a 41 MP sensor, capable of taking 2, 3, 5, 8 and 38 MP shots. The sensor is twice the size of the one on the Nokia N8, with optics also being provided by Carl Zeiss. The camera is able to take 1080p video. A Xenon flash is provided for still shots and a LED light can provide illumination for video.
The camera is placed on mobile phone hardware and software that has seen better days. The 4-inch screen nHD (360 x 640) first seen on the Nokia E7 is circa 2010 technology. The HSDPA 14.4 Mbps connectivity is circa 2010. And yes, the phone runs on the Symbian operating system.

This phone will appeal to those who prioritize the camera over smartphone functionality. Symbian, while a fine operating system does not have the app environment of Apple's iOS, Google's Android or even Microsofts Windows Phone. I am not sure if this phone will be coming to the Philippines. If it does, the camera will probably convince a fair number of people to stick with Symbian a bit longer.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Nokia Lumia 610 - The Windows Phone that could change it all

When Windows Phone 7 launched in late 2010, Microsoft came out with phones which were designed to compete with the Apple iPhone 4 and Android flagship phones. I think it is really hard to get early adopters to jump on board a new platform when you offer only premium devices.

It is now a year and a half later. The Windows Phone platform now boasts more than 65,000 apps and Windows handsets are now mid-level devices helping it get a 1.9% market share in Q4 of 2011. Not much. Still there has been little traction in favor of the Windows Phone platform. 

Now comes the phone which could change it all. The Nokia Lumia 610. Microsoft has tweaks its Windows Phone operating system to be able to run on lower specifications. The Nokia Lumia 610 has just 256 MB of RAM and an 800 MHz processor. This allows the Nokia Lumia 610 to be priced at just US$225. Basically, about Php10,000.

While the innards may be low spec'ed, the rest of the phone does not look like an entry level unit. It has a 3.7-inch WVGA (480 x 800) screen, 8 GB of internal storage, sports 5 MP primary camera with a LED flash and VGA secondary camera. This will allow it to do battle with Android handsets at the same price point quite well. 

This phone could be the phone that could change it all, especially in the developing world where Nokia is still very popular.

LG Optimus L3 E400 - Why bother?

The first phones being announced at the Mobile World Congress 2012, which we are likely to see in Philippine shores are from LG. The entry level model announced, the LG L3 E400 is available for shipping now. 

The LG L3 E400 is an Android powered phone with a 3.2 inch with a low 240 x 320 resolution. Samsung Galaxy Y, released early in the second half of 2011 is not particularly spectacular phone. Its main draw is its Php5,990 price. But it is 2012 now, and we were expecting every Android to be launched this year to come with at least a 320 x 480 screen resolution. The LG L3 E400 will run on Android 2.3 and is not likely to be getting updated to Android 4.0.

The other details on this phone are scant, but what we know so far makes similar to Samsung popular Galaxy Y. The phone is powered by an 800MHz processor has a 3.15 MP primary camera and no secondary camera.

With all kinds of interesting phones available at below 6K these days like Alcatels Dual Sim Blaze Glory 918N which has a higher resolution 320 x 480 screen, the LG L3 E400 would have to be priced really low, at much less than 5K if it is going to get any interest.

So unless this phone comes out at a price the absolutely floor us, this phone is something likely to be forgotten soon.

HTC One X - HTC's new flagship

HTC new Android 4.0 flagship phone is the HTC One X. Most attention has been given to its Tegra 3 chipset with its quad core processor, with a fifth companion processor. This gives you a 1.5 GHz quad core power when needed, with a low consumption 500 MHz processor when quad core power is not needed. 

The HTC One X is equally impressive outside. It comes with a 4.7-inch 720p (720 x 1280) screen, which is just a bit larger than the 4.65-inch screen on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Sadly, it is not a Super AMOLED display but it is a Super IPS display so it may be more impressive than we think. Since HTC decided to keep the dedicated capacitative buttons, none of the 4.7-inch screen is used for buttons making it effectively a much larger display for tasks where the buttons are not hidden on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Impressively, the HTC One X is not all that much larger than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus:
  • HTC One X - 134.4 x 69.9 x 9.3 mm
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9 mm

It is actually a little bit shorted, but is 2 mm wider. The 2mm wider part may bother some users given that these phones are at the limits of what a personal can comfortably use with one hand.

Like all the new HTC phones, the new HTC One X is very light at just 130 grams. This makes it the same weights as the much smaller HTC Desire S. This is done in part by the use of a new polycarbonate case (same as is used in the Nokia N9 and Lumia 800) rather than an aluminum case.

The other specifications of the phone are equally impressive with 1 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage and HSDPA 21.1+ Mbps connectivity. Internal storage is non expandable, but HTC does provide 2 years of 25 GB of Dropbox storage.

The One X sports an 8MP front camera, which packs a special Dual Shutter camera module, which allows you to take photos while shooting 1080p video at the same time. The camera also features 22mm wide angle lens with f/2.0 aperture. The phone also packs a 1.3 MP front camera.

Expect to see this phone on local shelves in three to four months at a price of about Php30,000. Whether is is impressive enough to fight of the yet un-announed Samsung Galaxy S III remains to be seen. 

HTC One S - The new Sensation

While the HTC One X and One XL (LTE version of the HTC One X) is the HTC flagship, the most interesting HTC phone announced by HTC at the Mobile World Congress 2012 is the the HTC One S. Why the most interesting? I think most will find it good enough to forego the higher end HTC One X, and give the size of the HTC One X, I think the HTC One S will be the more mainstream choice. 

Lets talk about size. The HTC One S has a 4.3-inch QHD (540 x 960) display, similar to the one on the current HTC flagship, the Sensation XE. But the new HTC One S goes one step up, with a Super AMOLED display. At the same time the new HTC One S is thinner and lighter at just 7.8 mm thin and 119.5 grams compared to 11.3 mm and 151 grams of the Sensation XE. While it is not Motorola RAZR thin, it is close. In order to achieve this, HTC uses a new aluminum-ceramic case.

Inside, the HTC One S was also upgraded with dual core 1.5 GHz Krait processors and Adreno 225 graphics making it much faster than HTC Sensation XE which runs at the same 1.5 GHz clock speed. This will allow it to do battle better with the new dual core Exynos units Samsung phones. The HTC One S also gets 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. The HTC Ones S does not have a MicroSD card slot so the 16 GB is not expandable. HTC does give each of its new phone 25 GB of Dropbox cloud storage for two years. The battery is a 1650 mAh unit. We don't know how power efficient or power hungry the new Kraits are, so it will be hard to estimate the battery life. The Super AMOLED display is more power efficient than the S-LCD display on the Sensation though.

The HTC One S comes with a 8 MP camera, which is also upgraded from the 8 MP unit on the HTC Sensation and Sensation XE. The new camera a a F/2.0 aperture which should bring improved low light performance and packs a special Dual Shutter camera module, which allows you to take photos while shooting 1080p video at the same time. The front camera is a 1.3 MP unit.

The HTC One S comes with Android 4.0 installed with Sense 4.0 and Beats Audio. HTC chose to retain dedicated capacitive buttons. 

The HTC One S is really a new, substantially improved Sensation. We expect it to be available in the Philippines late Q2 or early Q3 this year priced somewhere between Php20,000 to Php25,000.

HTC One V - The Hero Returns

While plenty of new devices are featured at the Mobile World Congress, not all will make it to the Philippines. We are pretty three of the four new HTC Android models will find their way to the local shelves. Of these, the entry level HTC One V will probably be the most popular.

The HTC One V will replace the HTC Wildfire and will position itself as a low cost offering. But really, with a traditional Android chin, it looks more like the third coming of the HTC Hero. 

The HTC One V will be released running Android 4.0 with Sense 3.6. The HTC One V hardware is similar to that on the current HTC Desire S. The HTC One V has a 3.7 inch WVGA (480 x 800) display, 1 GHz processor, 512 MB or RAM, 4 GB or internal storage expandable via a MicroSD card and a 5 MP camera. The battery is rated at 1500 mAh. 

The phone also features the Beats Audio enhancement, which looks like something we can expect with all HTC phones from now on. It also comes with 2 years of 25GB Dropbox storage.

Compared to the HTC Desire S, it has a fair amount more of internal storage, less RAM and is missing the front camera. The decision to leave out the front camera is perplexing. While it is a feature I don't use since making video calls over 3G consumes a lot more data and results in a poorer VOIP connection, I am sure many potential buyers may look elsewhere because of the lack of this feature.  

Notably, the HTC One V does retain dedicated capacitative buttons and has not gone with the buttonless interface of the first Android 4.0 phone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Actually, the entire line-up of new HTC phones retains the dedicated capacitative buttons, but instead of the four traditional Android buttons, you now have the three Ice Cream Sandwich buttons.  

Similar to other HTC phones announced at MWC, the HTC One V is also getting thinner and lighter, at just 9.2 mm and 115 grams. The HTC Desire S was 11.6 mm thick and 130 grams in weight.

The HTC One V is expected to be available by April 2012, though given HTC pattern of Philippine releases we can expect it to come two months after that. 

Pricing? We do not have any information as to pricing, but we are expecting it to have a MSRP somewhere between Php13,000 to Php16,000.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lenovo IdeaPad S110 N2800

Lenovo has updated its IdeaPad S100 netbook, by outfitting it with the new Intel Cedar trail processor into the new S110. Like the other manufacturers, Lenovo has chosen to just slot the new cooler running Atom in the same netbook cases they were using last year. It would have been great if a new slimmer cases were used.

In fairness, the S100/S110 case is a thin 0.75-inches and weighs in at a reasonable 2.6 pounds. The Lenovo keyboard is also the best in class. So despite our disappointment with the first generation Cheddar Trail netbooks, this is probably the best in the bunch.

The Lenovo IdeaPad S110 comes with the most powerful of the current Cheddar Trails, the N2800. With the new Intel GMA 3650 graphics, this system should be able to play 720p content and 1080p content stored on the hard drive. Intel graphics drivers are still being optimized, so your mileage may vary. 

Unfortunately, the screen is a 10.1-inch 1024 x 600 display. So despite the new vaunted HD capability, you won't even be able play 720p HD content at its native resolution.

What makes this Cedar Trail netbook acceptable is the price. It sells at a reasonable Php14,495 with 2 GB of RAM, a 320 GB hard drive WiFi and Bluethooh. It does not come with an operating system, and getting it with Windows 7 Starter will bring up the price to just under 16.5K, which is 1.5K less than its competition. 

The more expensive Cedar Trail notebooks are priced at the same level as AMD Fusion C-60 versions which comes with larger and sharper 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 displays.  

So, while I am not too excited about the new Cedar Trail netbooks, if you really want one, this is the one I would recommend.

ICS imminent for for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S, Xperia Ray and Neo V

Looks like Sony Mobile Communications, formerly Sony Ericsson, is trying to start out 2012 right. It has released beta Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) ROMs for the Arc S, Xperia Ray and Neo V. Expect the final release before the end of March 2012 for these devices. 


Dropbox for Android adds automatic photo and video upload and more free storage

It seems to be raining cloud storage these days. Hours less than a day Box offered 50 GB of cloud storage to all Android users, Dropbox is not offering users the option instantly upload photos and videos from the mobile device. So as not to add additional burden to your data plan, the Dropbox app can be set to only upload pictures when it detects a WiFi connection.

Automatic photo uploads on are nothing new. We first saw this feature in the Google Plus app middle of 2011, and later Apple added a similar feature to iOS 5. But Dropbox gives you incentives to use their service.

While photo uploads on Google+ is restricted to 2048 x 2048 pixels, and iOS 5 limits you to an 2048 x 1536, Dropbox will upload your photos in their original size.

Another incentive is you do not have to worry about consuming your existing Dropbox storage space. The new service comes with 500 MB of storage which you get as soon as you upload one picture using instant upload. You can get as much as 3 GB of space to upload your pictures. Once you consume your 500 MB uploading pictures, Dropbox will give you another 500 MB, until the 3GB limit is hit.

Existing users can avail of the service by updating their Android app. Still not on Dropbox? Sign up through this link and get another free 250 MB of space.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ubuntu for Android: The future of all computing

A few days ago, we wrote about Ubuntu for Android.

Basically, it will bring the ability to install Ubuntu Linux on Android phones. When used as a phone, the Android OS will be used. When plugged into a dock with a monitor, keyboard and mouse, it uses your phone as a CPU for a Ubuntu desktop.

We now have a few more details. This effort is further along than we expected. Slashdot reports that in the demo, using a Motorola Atrix,when it's docked into a laptop or desktop setup, the full version of Ubuntu is used, "with files, apps and other functionality such as voice calls and texting (are) shared between the two — for example, if a text message is sent to the phone when it's docked, the SMS pops up in Ubuntu, while calls can be received or made from the desktop."

PCWorld reports "that Ubuntu for Android will come preloaded on smartphones." So you wont be able to download this from the Android Market. You will need a device which designed around this. 

When will we see these devices?
“It really depends on (Android phone manufacturers),” she said. “We're ready to go.”

What we couldn't have seen coming was that Canonical would not only bring Ubuntu as a player to the game, but give us a sneak peek into the future of computing. And, we mean all computing, not just desktop or mobile. This is the future. 

We could not agree more.

Box gives Android Users 50GB of online storage

Box, which provides cloud based storage, is offering 50 GB lifetime online storage to all Android users who sign up for the service between now and March 23, 2012. Existing users can get an upgrade to 50 GB by updating the app on their Android device. Normally, the Box offers 5 GB free storage. The maximum file size you can upload is 100 MB.

For business users Box offers 1000 GB of storage with a maximum file size of 2 GB. The paid version adds desktop sync and Goolge Apps integration among others. 

The promo last a month. I suggest you head over to the Android Market and install the Box Android app to avail of the promo.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sony PS Vita: Under threat from the convergence of technology?

We normally do not cover the gaming console market, since this blog focuses primarily on mobile internet access devices. The PS Vita is crossing the line, so to speak by adding to a web browser social networking apps, such as Facebook, Skype, Netflix, Twitter, and Foursquare. While it does have the rich app environment of a smartphone or tablet, it does make the Vita a viable tablet alternative for the hardcore gamers, and Sony may actually make more none gaming apps available at the PlayStation Store.

And that is the aspect I want to look at. Should Sony make the Vita a more capable internet access device?

Convergence of technology. A few years ago I wrote about the convergence of technology. It was great to be able to dump the Personal Data Assistance because the smartphone became capable of doing that task. The frequency at which I lugged my laptop around also dropped because the smartphone has become my primary email access device and is great for quick access to information you might need for the field. The laptop only accompanies me now when there is when there is serious work to be done.
Since than, things have changed. I have maintained my two device combo. But I am not the typical techie (or maybe I am not one at all).

Divergence. There was a time mobile phones were so expensive each of us only had one. There was also really little reason to own more than one. Today, most people I know actually own more than one phone. The majority have two or three phones. Normally one is a smartphone, the other is a dual sim phone. Low cost dual sim back-up phone evolve from the need to have more than one line in order to take advantage of lower in network service costs by carriers, like unlimited voice and text services within a network.

Instead of our smartphones taking over all our communications tasks, carrier policies have created the need for more than one phone. One day, high end dual sim smartphones might result most people carrying a single phone again.

The tablet also created a new need. A new consumption centered device. Everyone I know who owns a tablet also owns a laptop. They do use both. One device can do the job of the other, but not as conveniently.

Watching a friend of mine packing for a business trip was surprising. Two smartphones, a tablet, a laptop, a Kindle and three chargers.

With two or more phones in the pockets or handbag and a tablet in tow, and maybe even a laptop, is there still room for some to carry dedicated gaming devices like the Sony PS Vita.

Convergence of gaming in our business tools. Smartphones originally designed for business use, and tablets for internet access, have grown into very competent gaming platforms. Games make up the majority of the most downloaded apps in Apple's App Store, Google's Market and Windows Market place. The day when only expensive personal computers could be used for gaming is history. Even entry level computers these days are capable of a decent amount of 3D gaming.

In this milieu, will devices like the PS Vita and Nintendo 3 DS survive?

Sony PS Vita sales. On December 17, 2011, the PlayStation Vita was launched in Japan with 325,000 units sold in the first three days after the launch. Sales dropped 78% in the 2nd week, to 74,000 units sold. Since than sales continued to tank, and in the week of February 13, PS Vita sales for the week in Japan was down to only 12,309 units being sold.

With the Sony PS Vita now being launched worldwide, Vita sales will either prove the poor sales in Japan will be a fluke, or be the start of a new convergence cycle with tablets and smartphones killing the handheld console market.
While the Sony PS Vita was developed before the tablet age, in hindsight Sony might have been best off releasing this device as a smartphone or a small tablet, while keeping the hardware controls to make it a true hardcore gaming device.

20 million Samsung Galaxy S II's sold

Samsung has reached the 20 million sales milestone with the Galaxy S II in the 10 months since its release as reported by Engadget. This nearly equals the the 22 million Galaxy S phone sold to date which was released a year earlier.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is the phone that placed Samsung as the top Android smartphone maker in 2011. Now ten months after its release it is still an excellent choice. Priced at Php2,5950 with an official Samsung warranty, is 5K cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the 7K cheaper than Apple's iPhone 4S.

On postpaid, the Samsung Galaxy S II is not as attractive. It is available free from Globe Telecom at Plan 2499, same as the iPhone 4S, although the iPhone 4S comes out cheaper if you go to lower plans. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is available free at a lower plan from Smart Communications, the GNex being avail free at Data Plan 2000. 

The Galaxy S II specifications actually exceed those of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus except in terms of screen resolution and installed operating system (the GNex has a larger screen, but space is taken up by the on screen buttons, whiles the S II has dedicated capacitive buttons). The Galaxy S II much matches up with the specifications of the iPhone 4S, while having the advantage of a larger screen, faster 3G connectivity and expandable storage. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

PlayBook owners: What you get from BlackBerry 2.0

BlackBerry 2.0 brings the Playbook a native email client. You won't have to bridge your PlayBook to a BlackBerry phone in order to check your email. The native email client would appear to be good, being integrated with GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with all emails and messages going into one unified inbox.

The PlayBook now has a Calendar client which also integrates with your Google Calendar and Facebook Calendar. You also have Unified contacts, which are GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn contacts.

Now you have Android App compatibility. BlackBerry 2.0 has an Integrated Android App Player for running ported apps from Android to the new BB OS 2.0. The App Player is pretty much invisible as all you have to do to launch an Android app and the App Player (which is a virtual machine) starts automatically.

Before PlayBook owners jump up and down excitedly,  this will not allow you to download the 400,000 apps on the Android Market, or even sideload apps. You will have access to Android Apps available on from the BlackBerry App World. 

What else... you can now control your PlayBook via Bluetooth from your Blackberry Smartphone. There is a new Print to Go app which allows you to install the Playbook as a wireless printer. This has nothing to do with paper printing. This allows you want to send a document to your Playbook from your word processor, spreadsheet application or presentation creator using the print function and selecting the PlayBook as your printer. This is something that would seem to be useless in the new Cloud computing environment, but you never know. 

If the PlayBook had all these when in launched 2011, I really don't think that it would have made a big difference in PlayBook sales. US$499 for the 16GB PlayBook put it head to head with Apple's iPad 2. 

But if BlackBerry continues to manufacture the PlayBook and sells the 16GB model for US$250 to US$300, I think the PlayBook + BlackBerry 2.0 would be decent proposition for BlackBerry owners. 

Ubuntu for Android: Ubuntu Linux will convert your phone into a CPU

PCWorld has a preview of the upcoming Ubuntu Linux for Android. Basically, Ubuntu for Android will allow you to install a fully functional Ubuntu Operating System in your Android mobile phone. The phone will operate as a normal Android phone. When placed on a dock connected to a screen and keyboard, your Android phone now acts as the CPU for your desktop

While this particular use is very interesting, the next logical step in this evolution is even more so. How long before we see Motorola like webtops. Basically, plug your phone into a screen and keyboard dock and have a fully functional Ubuntu Linux laptop. We might even see a device which converts your phone into a tablet. 

A Motorola Webtop
Canonical and Motorola (Google extended) should really get together for a talk.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dual sim droids

Article updated February 22, 2012.

There are several dual sim Android phones now available in the local market. 

LG's Optimus Net Dual P698 at Php8,750

LG's Optimus Net Dual P698 is a decent Android phone:

  • Android 2.3
  • 3.2-inch, 320 x 480 pixel resolution display,
  • 800 MHz processor with Adreno 200 graphics
  • 512 MB of RAM 
  • 3.2 megapixel autofocus camera
  • 1500 mAh battery 

It's main feature is its dual sim capability. If you are looking for a dual sim phone as your one and only phone, it is not a bad choice.  If dual sim is not that important, there are better choices.

Samsung Galaxy Y Duos S6102 @ Php8,990 

Samsung has thrown its hat into the ring with Samsung Galaxy Y Duos S6102. But taking a look at this new offering, I have to ask, what were they thinking?

  • Android 2.3
  • 3.14-inch, 240 x 320 pixel resolution display,
  • 832 MHz processor
  • 384 MB of RAM 
  • 3.2 megapixel fixed focus camera
  • 1300 mAh battery
It is 2012. Displays with 240 x 320 pixel resolution should be a thing of the past. It results in a fair amount of Android app incompatibility (the first Android used 320 x 480 displays) and looks pixelated. With less RAM, a poorer camera and smaller battery than the LG Optimus Net Dual P698, there is no reason to pick the Samsung over the LG.

Cherry Mobile Stellar @ Php7,890

This is the only one among the dual core phone in this list I have not been able to take a good look at. I also do not have good sources for its specifications. But a reader suggested we add it for the sake of completeness, and the specifications are very good.
  • Android 2.3
  • 3.2-inch, 320 x 480 pixel resolution display,
  • 800 MHz processor
  • 512 MB of RAM 
  • 5 megapixel camera 
I am not sure whether the 5 MP camera is a fixed focus unit or auto-focus. I am also not sure what the capacity of the battery is. It has with the same 800MHz processor and chipset as the LG Optimus Net Dual, and should have the same Adreno 200 graphics. But I cannot confirm this.

The Cherry Mobile stellar is worth a look, with its large 3.5-inch screen and capacitative soft keys it could be the best of the bunch.

Lenovo A60 @ Php7,700. 

Lenovo is new into mobile, and entered the market at the entry level. They did come out with a very compelling choice, the dual sim Lenovo A60.
  • Android 2.3
  • 3.5-inch, 320 x 480 pixel resolution display,
  • 650 MHz processor
  • 256 MB of RAM 
  • 3.2 megapixel fixed focus camera
  • 1500 mAh battery
The most compelling reason to select this phone is the 3.5-inch display. Compate it to a 3.2-inch display. They sound like they are almost the same size. Side-by-side, 3.5-inches is a lot bigger than 3.2-inches.

A 3.2 MP camera is nothing great so we do not mind the lack of autofocus. The only chink it's armor is the 256MB of RAM and the graphics processor, which is no match for the Adreno 200 on the LG. Still at 1K less than the LG Optimus Dual P698 with  larger screen, it is though choosing between the two. The 256MB of RAM does not make the phone feel sluggish in regular use. It runs fine. If you keep many apps running or install a lot of widgets, the 512 MB of LG Optimus Dual P698 will make it feel smoother. If you plan to do a fair amount of gaming the LG Optimus Dual P698 will run a fair number of games the Adreno 200 graphics on the LG is better suited for this.

I have one personal gripe. After having tried this phone, I cannot stand the three physical buttons. They are small and they are stiff. But that is a subjective thing. 

Alcatel Blaze Glory 918N @Php5,999

The last phone we are looking at is the Alcatel Blaze Glory 918N.

  • Android 2.3
  • 3.2-inch, 320 x 480 pixel resolution display,
  • 650 MHz processor
  • 256 MB of RAM 
  • 3.2 megapixel fixed focus camera
  • 1300 mAh battery

Alcatel Blaze Glory 918N has a smaller battery than the LG or Lenovo, it does not have the autofoucs camera of the LG, it has a smaller screen than the Lenovo. It is not the best of the four phones here. At Php5,999 is is 1.7K to 2.7K cheaper than the other options and the specifications are very decent for the money. It actually comes with a screen protector, which should save you another Php100-Php150.

Which is the best? The LG is the most powerful, and the brand is tried and tested. I have not been able to try the Cherry, so I cannot make a recommendation. The Lenovo's advantage over the LG is the larger screen, but overall the LG and Cherry have better specifications. The Lenovo has one thing going against it from an ergonomic standpoint. I really do not like the Lenovo's physical buttons.

The Alcatel is good enough and the price is very compelling. The Alcatel is not better better than the LG, Cherry or even the Lenovo, personally, I would pick the Alcatel. The 1.7L to 2.7K price difference is enough reason for me, but I do see it more as a back-up phone. If it was my one and only phone, I would spend a bit more and go for the LG or maybe the Cherry. If you plan to do some gaming on your device, the LG would be a much better choice.

Basically, you have four very good choices if you are looking for a dual sim Android. There is no clear winner. I do advise that you steer clear of the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos. The 240 x 320 display is something Android should leave in the past.

Smartphone Market Share in Q4 2011

Gartner has released data on smartphones sales to end users for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Google's Android is now firmly the top operating system with a 50.9% market share. These figures are more significant that that Apple's iPhone 4S was released in this quarter. 

Apple's iOS holds 23.8% of the market. With Apple launching in China in Q1 of 2012 we expect that it will also have a good first quarter in 2012.

Symbian is down to 11.7% from 32.3% at the same time during the previous year. The lost 20% went to Android and iOS. Microsoft and Nokia are hoping that they can migrate this 11.7% to Windows Phone 7, but Nokia slow roll-out of Windows handsets is worrisome. It really is now or never, and Nokia seems to be taking it sweet time rolling out in its bailiwick in the developing world markets having focus on the United States and Europe. 

RIM/BlackBerry's market share has slid below double figures. 

Microsoft's market share has gone down from 3.4% in Q4 2010 to 1.9% in Q4 2011. But Phonearena points out that most of the Microsoft phones sold in Q4 2010 were actually older low priced Windows Mobile handsets. They estimate that 500,000 Windows Phone devices were sold in Q4 2010, while all of the 2.7 million  Microsoft devices were sold in Q4 2011 were Windows Phone devices.

So that is where it stands. Android and iOS continue to make gains. Time is running out for Windows Phone and BlackBerry.

Force close problems on Android VIber 2.1.3 update? We have a fix.

 Viber, is a popular cross platform VOIP app. An update dated February 20, 2012 has caused problems for some users. When trying to launch the app, you get a force closed error. 

I encountered similar problems. The update killed Viber on my HTC Desire HD (Un-rooted, Stock 2.3.5 ROM). It forced close on launch. But I found a fix.

Go to Settings ---> Applications ---> Viber ---> Than press Clear Data.
Everything works fine after that. You will have to register again and will lose any saved messages. Pretty much a minor glitch I am happy to live with.

Okay, now for the good news. For Ice Cream Sandwich users, Viber 2.1.3 is now ICS compatible. Enjoy. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Unlimited calls, text and BBM @Php698 from Globe

Globe Telecom has an interesting BlackBerry offering. For Php698 a month, you can get a BlackBerry Curve 8520 with unlimited in-network calls and text (Globe and TM). The promo runs until February 29, 2012.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What entry level smartphones in 2012 will look like

While the tech community has their eyes fixed on the expected quad core mobile phones which will make their first appearance at the 2012 Mobile World Congress, I am more interested in seeing what the new entry level phones will look like.

Sony has already has two smartphones running 1GHz scorpion processors, 512 MB of RAM and decent 320 x 480 resolution screens selling for under Php10,000 in the Sony Ericsson Line with Walkman and the Xperia Mini. These phones both also come with 5 MP camera's so there was actually room for more cost cutting. Similarly, Nokia already came out in 2011 with the Nokia 500 running a 1 GHz processor and a very impressive 360 x 640 resolution screen.

While dual core and quad core phones bring speed needed for heavier software, this really is mainly for the hard core gaming community.  I use my phone for communications mainly, calls, SMS, email, social networking and instant messaging and two year old specifications are more than enough. I think most smartphone buyers wont necessarily need the latest and greatest. In fact, in 2012 I think entry level models will be more than sufficient for most users.

I expect that by middle of this year, the entry level Android's will come with 1GHz Scorpion or A8 processors, with Adreno 205 of PowerVR SGX530 graphics and a 320 x 480 resolution or better display. I do suspect most of these devices will still use 3.2-inch and smaller screens, so as to give the entry level products more differentiation from higher end Androids. Hopefully, entry level Droid's migrate to 3.4" and larger screens. 

Similarly, the 1 GHz processors and Andreno 200 graphics that are required to run Windows Phone devices are not inexpensive enough to go into phones with a price point below 10K. 

In the end, the biggest beneficiary of all the leaps in technology is the entry level buyer.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sony Mobile Communications Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update

Sony has made a pretty impressive commitment on Ice Cream Sandwich updates. Sony's has committed to upgrade its entire 2011 Xperia and Walkman smartphone line-up  to Android 4.0 starting from end March 2012. The first smartphones to get the upgrade are  the:

Xperia arc S
Xperia ray
Xperia neo V

By May 2012 the following units will get an upgrade:

Xperia arc
Xperia PLAY
Xperia neo, 
Xperia mini and mini pro
Xperia pro
Xperia active 
Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman

From a hardware standpoint all these phone run on 1GHz Scorpion processors or faster and have Adreno 205 graphics. 

I remain a bit sceptical as to how the Android 4.0 update will go because of one aspect. All of these phones, even the top of the line Xperia arc S, only has 320 MB of user available storage. I am guessing that Sony has found a way to reduce the foot print of its custom Android install. Updating the phone to Android 4.0 but significantly, reducing the amount of internal storage could be a problem for many users.
If Sony actually pulls this off and maintains a reasonable amount of user available storage it will be a big boost to the newly established Sony Mobile Communications.

A flock of new, but dissapointing Cedar Tails netbooks

A few days ago we took a look at our first Cedar Trail Netbook, the Neo Vivid VC2EW-114 with Atom N2600 processor and Intel GMA 3600 graphics which can play high definition video and were less than impressed. Basically, it is the same 10.1-inch netbook chassis with a 1024 x 600 resolution screen that we have been seen for the part three years with a new faster Atom inside.

Since than, a whole flock of Cedar Trail Netbook have hit the shelves:

  • Acer Aspire AOD270-281 Atom N2800 (1.86 GHz/GMA 3650 graphics) - Php19,900 with a free external optical drive.
  • Samsung N110 Atom N2600 (1.6 GHz/GMA 3600 graphics) - Php16,900
  • HP Mini 110-4112TU Intel Atom N2600 (1.6GHz/GMA 3600 graphics) - Php15,900 (DOS operating system)
  • HP Mini 210-4022TU Atom N2800 (1.86 GHz/GMA 3650 graphics) - Php18,900
All these new Cedar Trail netbooks have 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600 resolution, screens, 320 GB hard drives (except for the Mini 210 with a 500 GB hard drive), 2 GB of RAM and a 6-cell battery. 

Basically, all Cedar Trail powered versions of the netbook which you have been familiar with for the past few years. If Intel wants the Cedar Trail to revive the netbook industry, these netbooks are not what will do the trick.

With the new HD capability of the new Cedar Trail chips, it would have been better to place these processors in laptops with HD capable 1366 x 768 displays, and with a lower 3.5 W to 6.5 W thermal design point ("TDP") as compared to the 8.5 W to 10 W TDP of their predecessors, slimmer lighter cases would have been nice.

As things stand right now, at the price point of the new N2600/N2800 netbooks, a AMD Fusion C-60 or E-450 powered system with a larger and higher resolution 11.6-inch,1366 x 768 display, and bigger keyboards seems to be the way to go. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Nexus now offered on a pre-paid package by Smart Communications

Smart Communications initially offered the Samsung Galaxy Nexus only to its postpaid subscribers on pre-order free at Data Plan 2000. Than it became part of its regular offering under Data Plan 2000. Now, you can get it as a pre-paid kit for Php31,000. This makes is a bit cheaper than Smart's prepaid kit for the Apple iPhone 4S which is at Php33,200 for the 16GB model.

Best bang for the buck Core i3 Ultraportable? - HP Pavilion DM1-4012TU

With the switch to Sandy Bridge, low cost 11.6-inch Intel Core i3 ultraportables disappeared from the store shelves. This was because the lower cost Core i3 Sandy Bridge units were not released by Intel until the second half of 2011. We have seen several now hitting the Philippine market. 

The first one we first saw on store shelves middle of last year on stock with Philippine retailers was the HP ProBook 4320S came in priced at Php36,990 bundled with an external DVDRW and Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010. Without the DVDRW and Office, you could get it a less than 30K. Next we saw the Lenovo Thinkpad EDGE e120 which is priced at about Php33,000, but note, that is without an operating system.

Another option we found for a low cost Intel Core i3 ultraportable is the HP Pavilion DM1-4012TU. 
As compared to the Lenovo ThinkPad EDGE e120. The HP Pavilion DM1-4012TU is priced at Php29,900. It is powered by the same Intel Core i3 2367M processor you find in the Lenovo ThinkPad EDGE e120. As compared to the Lenovo ThinkPad EDGE e120 the HP Pavilion DM1-4012TU is better equipped with a larger 640 GB hard drive and pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Basic (64-bit) for a lower price. The other specifications of the two are similar with 2 GB of RAM, 6-cell batteries and the usual ports and connectivity options. Disappointingly, neither one has a USB 3.0 port.
As compared to the ProBook 4320s. As compared to its HP sibling, the ProBook 4320s, the ProBook comes with a smaller 500 GB hard drive and Windows 7 Home Basic. There is one difference you should take note off first. The HP ProBook 4320s is has a larger 12.1-inch (1280 x 800) display. The Pavilion DM1-4012TU has a smaller 11.6-inch (1366 x 768) display.
The biggest difference between the two is that ProBook 4320s comes with the faster, but hotter running, Intel Core i3 2310M (2.10 GHz, 35W TDP) while the Pavilion DM1-4012TU has the slower, but cooler, Intel Core i3 2367M (1.4GHz, 17W TDP). 

Another difference is battery life. The ProBook 4320s will give you less battery life. While both come with batteries rated at 4400 mAh (ProBook: 4-cell, 4400 mAh, DM1: 6-cell, 4400 mAh) the hotter running Intel Core i3 2310M eats more juice and will keep the fans running a bit harder.

Which is the best? The Lenovo ThinkPad EDGE e120 has a much nicer and crisper keyboard. But bundling in the price of a Windows operating system, and this become a rather expensive proposition.

I prefer the larger 12.1-inch screen of the ProBook 4320s, but I would rather have the Intel Core i3 2367M found in the Lenovo ThinkPad EDGE e120 and HP Pavillion DM1-4012TU.

It is pretty clear than overall the HP Pavillion DM1-4012TU has the best specifications for the price. But it is not a hands down winner. Take a look at the three, and see which one you like best. If you have no preference among the three, the HP Pavillion DM1-4012TU is probably the best choice for you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lenovo ThinkPad EDGE e120

A few weeks ago we took a look at Lenovo's 11.6-inch AMD E-450 powered ultraportable the Lenovo ThinkPad EDGE e125. If the AMD E-450 does not have enough processing power for you, the Lenovo ThinkPad EDGE e120 may be more to you liking.

Like its AMD powered sibling the e120 has 2GB of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive and a 6-cell battery. It is a thin 0.93 inches, and light at 3.1 pounds. It has, what in our opinion, is the best in class keyboard. Where the e120 differs is the processor. The e120 has Intel Core i3 2367M processor and Intel HD graphics.

Priced at about Php33,000, without an operating system, it is priced about Php11,500 than the AMD powered version.

The days of the thin-and-light laptop are numbered

Just two years ago, the Php20,000 price range for personal computing belong to the netbook. These devices offered poor performance, but chugged along well enough to run Microsoft Office and could you run web browser. Intended primarily as highly portable internet access devices, these devices has plenty of limitations with the poor graphics performance rendering unable to play high definition video, cramped keyboards and constricting 1024 x 600 pixel resolution displays were hardly ideal devices, but were good enough for their asking price. Weighing in under 3 pounds and providing five hours or more of battery life, they offered a low cost solution for a particular need. People looking for portable affordable secondary devices or looking for cheap primary computers bought these new devices in the millions.

Today, things have changed. While netbook prices have dropped by 25% or more, and Intel's new Atom processors offer the ability to play HD video, it is hard to recommend these devices. With the advent of smartphones as low cost functional computers, people today are less likely to look for a secondary device. If the small 3.2 to 5.3 inch screens are not sufficient for your mobile internet needs, there is the tablet, and tablet like devices with screen ranging from 7 to 10.1-inches which start at just Php6,000. Occupying the netbooks Php20K price point are low powered AMD Fushion ultraportables with 11.6-inch HD displays. The larger size makes for a better viewing experience and gives you a more comfortable keyboard. People looking for a cheap primary computer can a very capable 13 to 14 inch laptops with AMD Fusion or Intel B940/950 processors at the same price a netbook would command two years ago.

Basically, the market for netbooks has shrunk dramatically over the past two years, and while it has taken a longer than expected time to die, the end is in sight for Intel's Atom powered mini laptops.

Acer Aspire S3

This is not the only category which is in imminent danger of extinction. The so called thin-and-light laptops are going the way of the Dodo too. Thin-and-light laptops have are traditionally defined as laptops which weigh in between 4 to 6 pounds. Half a decade ago, a 6 pound laptop was considered light enough for carry, and with lighter 3-4 pounds units costing an arm and a leg, have gotten fairly affordable. Intel's new category of Ultrabooks, 13-inch or so laptops weighing in at 3 pounds or less and with prices starting below US$1,000 will be the end of the thin-and-light.

When we started this blog over a year ago, we redefined thin-and-light as being between 4 to 5 pounds. Even back than, we could no longer consider a laptop weighing over 5 pounds as offering “balanced mobility.” That was even before the ultrabook.

Today you already have several offerings starting at US$899 from Acer, HP and Toshiba. The Acer Aspire S3 sells at the Php45K price point on local shelves. But we suspect that price will go down soon. While manufacturers reluctantly entered this arena because of high manufacturing costs, Intel's prodding and the realization that tablet gave a new meaning to the word portable compelled them to go this route. As volume production reduces the price of these under 1-inch thin and 3 pound light frames, you will see lower cost processors, like AMD Fusion and thin conventional drives find their way into Ultrabook-like devices. Following the Ultrabook will be a bevy of 13-inch 3.5 pound low cost laptops.

Helping in this effort will be Windows 8. Windows, Linux and MacOSX has grown heavier each year requiring more of the cutting edge hardware that Intel was happy to feed to the market. But with ARM processors in mind, Windows 8 will require less RAM and processing power than any Windows operating system since Windows XP. Testing the Windows 8 Developer Preview on an old HP laptop running Intel Core2 Duo T7100 on just 1 GB of RAM was eye opening. This early build of Windows 8 ran well on specifications that would make Windows Vista and 7 feel sluggish.

Low cost processors with ample power, the ability to play HD video with an operating system happy to play along will make the 13-inch 3.8 pound Sony's Vaio S (Php59,900) feel expensive and make Apple's 4.5 pound 13-inch Macbook Pro feel heavy. Hardcore gamers and those who need processing power for heavy applications will still need the fastest processors that Intel and AMD can churn out. The rest of the market will be happy with something that works, is light enough to carry around and equally light on the wallet.

With the Ultrabook, and Ultrabook like laptops, you will see the end of the thin-and-light laptops. I do expect to see in the next month or two a redesigned MacBook Pro weighing in under 4 pounds. I would not be surprise if eventually, the 13-inch MacBook Pro and 13-inch MacBook Air are merged into a single product. Sony which had been reluctant to enter the Ultrabook fray as it would devalue their Vaio S and Z lines will have no choice but to follow the herd.

The technology world announced the end of netbook in late 2010. By the end of 2012, we will see the end of the thin-and-light. Anything weighing over four pounds should be a device targeted at gamers or workstation like laptops used a desktop replacements. The MacBook Air on which I am writing this on, which gets disbelieving looks from passers by, is about to become rather pedestrian. The days of thin, light and portable being expensive are at an end.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Samsung unviels the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) and confuses us

Samsung has launched another 7-inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) as a successor to its 2010 Samsung Galaxy Tab. Wait, didn't the Samsung Galaxy Tab already have a successor in the form of the Galaxy P6200 Tab 7.0 Plus. A bit perplexed, we checked the specifications of the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) and it seems to be a downgraded Galaxy P6200 Tab 7.0 Plus. 

Like the original Samsung Galaxy Tab, both the Galaxy P6200 Tab 7.0 Plus  and the  Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) have full phone functionality. Both have 7-inch 1024 x 600 resolution screens, like the original. Both share a lot of things in common. The biggest difference seems to be the processor and chipset. 

Galaxy P6200 Tab 7.0 Plus has specifications of a Samsung flagship product. Inside you have a Dual Core 1.2 GHz processor, Mali-400MP graphics processing unit on an Exynos chipset. The Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) has a still unnamed 1GHz dual core processor. 

And this is where the reason for existence of the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is explained. We are pretty sure that the 1GHz dual core processor will be on a less expensive processor, graphics and chipset combo than Samsungs Exynos. The entire reason for the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) is to create a lower price version of the Galaxy P6200 Tab 7.0. 

Given the US$199 selling price of the Amazon Kindle Fire, it is a fair guess that Samsung has had to rethink it Galaxy P6200 Tab 7.0 and cut costs on its product. How much cheaper, we still don't know. Given that the Galaxy P6200 Tab 7.0 retails for Php23,990, I am guessing the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) will be sold at not more that Php18,000. But that is just my guess.

The Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) comes with Android 4.x "Ice Cream Sandwich", but we do expect the Galaxy P6200 Tab 7.0 to get ICS too in short order.

Screen size comparison: 4.3-inch HTC Desire HD and 4.65-inch Samsung Galaxy Nexus

For those wondering how big the 4.65-inch screen of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is, given that a portion of the screen is occupied by the new soft buttons, here is a picture of the Galaxy Nexus beside the old Android standard for "big", HTC's Desire HD.

Desire HD on the left. Galaxy Nexus in its Super AMOLED glory on the right. Super AMOLED is so bright, the camera could not compensate, but it renders colors much better than the picture.
The soft button on the Galaxy Nexus minimize to give it even more real estate in certain apps.

Apple iPad 3 rumours

There are several things that Apple can do with its next iPad, presumably the iPad 3. These include a higher resolution display, more cores on the processor, a faster processor, more storage, a higher capacity or higher endurance battery, a thinner form factor, more powerful camera's, LTE support and of course adding Siri. They could also add something that no one even know exists. 

What we do know is that it will launch sometime this year, most likely in March, and will almost certainly maintain the same price points as the iPad 2. What Apple will do is likely to be influenced mainly by price. Because of this, we should temper our expectations.
In 2011, Apple released a iPhone 4S which was considered disappointing from a hardware standpoint, but was a success from a sales standpoint. The absence of a new larger and higher resolution display, maintaining RAM at 512MB, moderately clocked dual core the processor speed and maintaining the old design all contribute to making the iPhone 4S cost of production low, which means a very high profit margin per sale.
The same will be true with the iPad 3. How good an iPad 3 does Apple have to produce. With 59% of the tablet market, and no real competitors at the higher end of the tablet spectrum I do not see any incentive for Apple to come out with a Super iPad 3.

The iPad 3 does not need to be spectacular for it to continue selling well. The reality is, a super iPad 3 would mean lower profits per iPad sold. I do not see any incentive for Apple to lower its profit margins.

As the iPad 3 launch date gets closer, we do see more muted rumours about what it might bring as compared to iPhone 5 rumours.. If the Apple iPhone 4S was good enough despite the strong competition, how good does a new iPad have to be?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cedar Trail and the Neo Vivid VC2EW-114 N2600 Dual Core NetBook

Neo has released its new Vivid VC2EW-114. With a 10.1-inch 1024 x 600 screen, 2GB of RAM and 500 GB hard drive, the most notable thing about this offering is that it comes with Intel new Atom, the long awaited Intel N2600 Cedar Trail platform. This gives netbooks the ability to play 1080p video from stored content. From a hardware standpoint, these cool running processors can be cooled passively, meaning a fan is optional. This can result in some very interesting designs.

The Neo Vivid VC2EW-114 is designed as a conventional netbook.  With overall performance is similar to the AMD Fusion C-50 chipset, basically it beings nothing which has not been available for several months. With a 1024 x 600 screen it cannot play 1080p or 720p video at their native resolution. Being priced at Php15,999 the Neo Vivid VC2EW-114 is not particularly inexpensive. 

If you are looking for something in this price range, we suggest you spend a little more and get an AMD C-60 powered unit with a larger, higher resolution, 11.6-inch (1366 x 768) screen, or better yet Samsung NP305 with a AMD E450 processor at about Php17,500.
The Cedar Trail will may make for some very interesting low cost devices in the near future. The Neo Vivid VC2EW-114 is just not one of them. Things like the ultra thin and ultralight  Asus Eee PC X101CH, which we expect to see in the next month or two, will be a much more compelling Cedar Trail solution.

Asus Eee PC X101CH

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