Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Around the web: Odds and ends

Apple moves. It looks like the rivalry and legal battles between Samsung and Apple, has cost Samsung a customer. Samsung manufacturers the A4 and A5 chips found in Apple's iPhone's, iPods and iPads. In 2012, Apple will be having them manufactured by someone else. Read the rest of the article at GSMArena.


Windows Phone 7 arrives. No mobile phone OS can be considered to a contedender without Angry Birds :) 

Angry Birds is finally available for Windows Phone 7. At US$2.99, it is more expensive than the US$0.99 iOS (non-HD) version, but given how Rovio keeps on rolling out new levels, US$2.99 is well worth it. There is a free version which will allow you to try the first few levels.

...and Android hits 500,000 per day. Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Google at Mobile tweeted that there are now 500,000 Android devices being activated per day.

Robo Defense

Robo Defense is a Tower Defense game for Google Android Devices by Lupis Labs Software. Basically, you buy and upgrade defensive towers which you place on a map to impede and destroy invading hordes. As you destroy more enemies you gain more money to buy defenses. In Robo Defense, it is robots versus robots. The trick behind the game is to create a pathway for your enemies to follow which places them in under the heaviest concentration of fire from your defensive positions. Succeeding waves of enemies and higher levels make it more and more challenging as you go along.


The concept behind a tower defense game is simple, it is like a real time strategy game where you are purely on the defensive. Robo Defense was so good, and so addicting, I had to uninstall it from my mobile phone... well I am keeping it on my Wife's tablet, that way I can play it without having it with me the whole day. This in the interest of getting work done.

You can try the free version which can be found at this link: Robo Defense Free.

There is a paid version with more maps, levels and upgrades, which is well worth the asking price at this link: Robo Defense

The free version will keep you entertained till the wee hours in the morning. The paid version, is something you best purchase before a weekend or when you are about to start a long vacation.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Charting Android smartphone hardware development

HTC Dream

2008. The flagship Android phone in 2008 had the following specifications:

  • 3.2-inch 320 x 480 screen
  • 528MHz processor
  • 192MB of RAM

The first commercially available Android phone was the HTC Dream released in October 2008. It had a 3.2-inch 320 x 480 resolution screen and was powered by a 528 MHz ARM 11 processor with a Adreno 130 GPU on Qualcomm MSM7201A chipset. The Dream had 192MB of RAM.

2009. The 2008 specifications remained standard for Android phones 2009:

  • 3.2-inch 320 x 480 screen
  • 528MHz processor
  • 128MB-256MB of RAM

The first Android handset to become widely available in the Philippine was the HTC Magic, released by Smart Communications. The Dream was released in May of 2009 and became available in the Philippines early in 2010. The Magic had the same specifications as the Dream, minus the slide out keyboard and with more RAM at 288MB.  

By end of 2009 the typical Android Phone like HTC's Hero and Samsungs i7500 Galaxy and i5700 Galaxy Spica had a 3.2-inch 320 x 480 screen, a 528 MHz ARM 11 processor, Adreno 130 GPU, Qualcomm MSM7200A chipset and 128MB to 288MB of RAM. 

By the end of 2009 higher resolution screens were released with Motorola Milestone ands it 3.7 inch 480 x 854 pixel resolution screen. It was powered by a 550MHz ARM Cortex A8, PowerVR SGX530 graphics and 256MB of RAM.

2010. 2010 saw the release of the first "reference" design Android and a significant jump in the specifications for a flagship Android phone. Typical specifications for a flagship Android phone in 2010 were:

  • 3.7 to 4.3-inch 480 x 800 or 480 x 854 screen
  • 1GHz processor
  • 512MB to 768MB of RAM

January 2010 saw the release of the Google Nexus One with its 3.7-inch 480 x 800 screen, 1 GHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 200 GPU, Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon chipset and 512MB of RAM. Other manufacturers released phones with similar specifications in the first six months of 2010 with the HTC Desire, Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and the Samsung Galaxy S. Notably, the manufacturers offered larger screens has started with the Xperia X10 and the Galaxy S with 4-inch screens. The Dell Streak and HTC Desire HD came out bringing the larger screen  5-inch and 4.3-inch screens to Android phones. The Desire HD also had a unprecedented amount of RAM for an Android at 768MB.

Before the end of 2010 Google brought out its Google Nexus S, but instead of being another leap in Android phone hardware it was essentially a Goolge banding of an existing phone, the Samsung Galaxy S. The Nexus S did make a front camera standard equipment for Android 2.3 phones.
2011. 2011 brought dual cores to technology, with the specifications for a flagship Android being:

  •  4 to 4.3-inch 480 x 800 or 540 x 960 screen
  • 1GHz of faster dual processor
  • 512MB to 1GB of RAM

Examples of this are the LG Optimus 2x, the HTC Sensation and the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Around the web: Dead on arrival

Nokia's N9, dead on arrival. Looks like the MeeGo powered Nokia N9 will go the way of the Maemo Nokia N900. Interesting, with excellent potential, but relegated to being a interesting piece of tech history. GSMArena reports that, Nokia's "CEO Stephen Elop confirmed that even if the N9 proves to be a massive success, there is no returning to MeeGo for Nokia. Nokia instead will be betting everything on Windows Phone 7 platform and Elop is confident that it will be well received." Read the rest of the article here



This is bad news indeed.

The most expensive tablet in the planet. Techie.com.ph christens the HTC Flyer as the "the most expensive tablet in the plane". We have to agree with them. 

Bring on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9.

The Google Android Roadmap for 2011

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) is the current version of the Google Android operating system designed for mobile phones. It is optimized to operate with a 3.2-inch to 4-inch screen with a screen resolution of 320 x 480 or 480 x 800.

We expect on more update this year: Android 2.4. Android 2.4 will allow single core handsets on 2.4 to use apps developed for dual core Honeycomb 3.0. Other than this we do not expect to see very many differences between 2.3 and 2.4, which is why they both have the same Gingerbread codename. There could be a Android 2.5 and later releases. This is what we expect to be designed for use single core handsets for the next two to three years.

Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) is the current version of the Google Android operating system designed for tablets. It is optimized to operate with a 10.1-inch screen with a 1280 x 800 screen resolution. Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) is a modified version of Android 3.1 optimized to work on 7-inch screens with a 1280 x 800 screen resolution. We do not expect to see very many differences between 3.1 and 3.2, which is why they both have the same Honeycomb codename.

Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) will replace Android 3.x in tablets, and Android 2.3/2.4 on dual core phones, by the end of the year. This will bring full dual core support to Android Mobile phones and will be designed to work optimally on 4-inch to 10-inch screens. We expect that it will be designed to work primarily with qHD (540 x 960) to HD screens (1280 x 720 to 1920 x 1080).

We expect that Android 4.0, will drop the need for the home, menu and back buttons, with all controls save power and volume being on the touchscreen.
 

Photo Enhance Pro

Photo Enhance Pro, by Effectice Apps, is a simple Android photo enhancing app that you to enhance an image by adjusting brightness, contrast, saturation and white-balance. Enhancement uses HDR tone-mapping techniques to add detail to your images, by default, but yoy can dial down this feature or turn it off.It can also convert a picture into a black and white shot. The app includes a cropping function with constrained presets usually commonly used in printing as well as allows unconstrained cropping.


This app is available in a free version and a paid version. The free version is pretty is pretty much unspectacular as plenty of free apps will give you more features than Photo Enhance Pro. Like all Android photo enhancing apps enhance photos will be reduced in size after enhancement or cropping. In this case, it will will reduce the enhance photo to 800 x 600 or less (depending on how the photo is cropped). Cropped images and saving them in high resolution saves them picture without reducing its size. One missing feature that would be nice would be the ability to resize a picture.

The paid version of this app includes one pretty unique feature right now. It will allow you to enhance a picture maintaining the fill resolution. That alone might be worth the US$4.99 asking price to some. Right now it is available on the market for US$0.99, and at that price I grabbed a license right away.

Sample enhancement:

Original

Enhanced

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Acer Aspire TimelineX 3830T-2412G64nbb versus Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch 2.3GHz

A thin-and-light laptop offers a nice balance between utility and portability. The standard on which other thin-and-lights are based is Apples sleek MacBook Pro. The entry level 13-inch model is only 0.95 inches inches thin and weighs in at 4.5 pounds.

The MacBook Pro line-up was refreshed in March of 2011. This compact package houses has a new Sandy Bridge Core i5-2410M processor, Intel HD 3000 graphics 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive and a 63.5 watt hour battery for a retail price of Php61,990.
Acer contender at this category has been its 3800 Series Timeline laptop. The newest model is the TimelineX 3820T. The model offered in the Philippines is the Acer Aspire TimelineX 3830T-2412G64nb.  In many ways its is a better option. The price is set at Php37,900, which is 24K lower than the MacBook Pro.
  
The TimelineX is 0.87 inches thin at the thinnest point and 1.15-inches at the thickest point, and weighs in a 4.1 pounds. The TimelineX is a bit thicker but is almost 10% lighter.

Both laptops comes with the Sandy Bridge Core i5-2410M. The TimelineX only comes with half the RAM at 2GB. The Windows Home Basic operating system installed in the TimelineX will support 4GB of RAM. The TimelineX has the same Intel HD 3000 graphics, but comes with 128MB of dedicated memory. The MacBook Pro's Intel HD 3000 card uses shared memory.

Fortunately Acer put in a single 2GB DIMM, so upgrading it to 4GB will not be expensive as you wont be wasting the installed memory. The TimelineX also has a larger 640GB hard drive as against the 320GB model on the entry level MacBook Pro. The TimelineX also comes with a larger 66.0 watt hour battery as against the 63.5 watt hour battery on the MacBook Pro.

In terms of high speed data transfer the MacBook Pro relies on the new Thunderbolt technology, while the TimelineX utilizes the new high speed USB 3.0 port. Which of these technologies become mainstream is still up in the air, but we are betting on USB 3.0.
The MacBook Pro does have an internal optical drive while the TimelineX does not. This could be a deal breaker for some as far as the TimelineX is concerned. Personally. I prefer the lighter weight versus the internal drive.

On the last issue of build quality. Apple's are well built, and the Aluminum frames are beautiful. They are not as indestructible as they seem. They are easily scratches and dented if dropped. The Acer Aspire TimelineX 3830T-2412G64nbb is a very well built laptop, a notch higher than what we are used to seeing from Acer at this price range.

Which do we recommend? If you want the MacBook Pro, you probably do not care too much about value for money considerations. OSX does boot, shutdown and run faster than Windows. MacBook Pro's are very nicely built. In the end, I do not think you would be disappointed. If you are concerned about value for money though, the TimelineX is the clear winner.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Archos 7c - Budget Android tablet

The Archos 7c  is a new low cost tablet released by the French consumer electronic company Archos.  I started with this, because based on the specification you might think they are old stocks from 2010, but it is not. It was released in other countries in April 2011, and has now landed in the Philippines.


The Archos 7c runs on Android 2.1 (Eclair) and is powered by a 800MHz Cortex A8 processor. The display is a capacitive touch screen with a 800 x 480 resolution. It has 8GB of internal storage which is expandable via a MicroSD card slot. Connectivity is provided via 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi for web browsing and downloading Android apps and USB connectivity to connect the tablet to a PC. The manufacturer promises 7 hours of battery life of video playback.

It has no cameras, no Bluetooth, no 3G, no HDMI... you get the point. This is a very basic tablet with minimal features, but it is cheap. How cheap? Php8,800. At that price we can be very forgiving about the specifications. It has a capacitative, and not a resistive screen, which is what you find on most budget tablets.
 

Nokia + Windows Phone 7 seemed like a good idea...

Last December we posted that Nokia badly needed a new operating system,  witing that "(t)he reality is that, unless they can get something out soon, Nokia is most likely better off jumping on the Android bandwagon or even maybe even better, supporting the Windows Phone 7 platform, before it is relegated to selling feature phones." Apparently, they did have a very good bun in the over after all.

Nokia with Windows, or Android or Nokia made sense back than. Now we are wondering why. GSMArena has had it first look at the Nokia N9, running the MeeGo Operating System v1.2 (Harmattan).


The N9 has a power a volume rocker button, but has for any hardware buttons to manipulate the operating system. There is no need to press the power key to revive the phone from sleep mode, a simple double-tap of the screen will revive the phone. There is also no back button. A swype of the from edge to edge will bring you back to app launcher or task manager.

We are getting ahead of ourselves. The OS centralizes  everything in three homescreens. The first screen keeps track of all notifications: calls, SMS, email social network updates and other system notifications. The second screen is your app drawer or app launcher where you will see all installed apps. The last screen is the multitasking cards pane which will show you  running apps on grips. The lockscreen had four customizable shortcuts, in line with new trends to make the lockscreen more functional.


With this operating system in the works did Nokia really Windows Phone 7. We felt they did, but were expecting that by the now Nokia WP7 phones would be on the market.
The MeeGo ecosystem will be richer than the WP7 ecosytem by end of year. MeeGo based phones will be able to run Android apps.

With a MeeGo 1.2 based phone coming out first, does Nokia really need WP7?

June 2011 Smarthpone buyers guide - Part III


Flagship phones (25-30K). Getting the top of the line phone offered by the manufacturers has gotten significantly less expensive this year. Last year, the top end phone were being offered at Php35,000-Php40,000. Now, you are looking at a price range of just Php25,000-Php30,000.

If you are looking at an iPhone, we suggest you wait a little bit longer. Right now the iPhone 4 will cost you about Php30K. In two to three months you should be seeing a new iPhone. You are better off waiting for the next iPhone or buying the iPhone when Apple brings its price down. For now, we recommend these three:


LG Optimus 2x. The LG Optimus 2x has a suggested retail price of Php27,900 but a little smart shopping should get you one with a official LG Warranty at Php25,400. 

The biggest selling point of the Optimus 2x is the 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, ULP GeForce GPU, Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset. This is currently the "industry standard" dual core processor found in most of the new phones and tablets, so new games will probably be optimized for this chipset. That hardware should be fast enough to run most every application that will come out in the next year at least. 

The display is good enough. The Optimus 2x has a 4.0-inch IPS LCD touchscreen with a 480 x 800 resolution. The letters IPS might have you thinking iPhone 4 grade screen. It is not. The Optimus 2x screen is an excellent display, much better than your typical LCD screen but not at the same level as the iPhone 4's retina display or Samsung Super AMOLED screen. But if you buy the Optimus 2x you will be satisfied with the screen quality. It is not the best display on a mobile phone but is good enough.

With 8GB expandable to 40GB via MicroSD card, a 8MP auto focus camera, HDMI out and all the features you expect to find in a high smartphone, this is a buy at the 26K asking price.

There are three main drawbacks with LG Optimus 2x. The installed operating system is not the latest Android 2.3, but the older 2.2 and it has been reported by several users to be less than stable, but LG will be addressing both this issue. The second major drawback with this option is the video recording. One thing which dual core phones bring is 1080p video recording, but right now the Optimus 2x only captures 1080p at 24fps, which actually makes it better to record video at 720p which it does at the expected 30fps. A firmware upgrade may or may not fix this. Last, it has 512MB of RAM, which while sufficient by todays standards is the one specification which will make eventually feel or slow old soonest.

My verdict. Not perfect, but a good high end bang for the buck option.


HTC Sensation. If you go up the food chain a bit you find HTC's Sensation. With a suggested retail price of Php31,900, but available for as low as Php28,000 with a official HTC warranty it costs ten percent more than the LG Optimus 2x. 

Is it worth the higher price tag? The first thing you will notice with the Sensation when compared to the Optimus 2x is the display. The Sensation comes with a 4.3-inch qHD display. qHD means quarter HD or a 540 x 960 display resolution, which means it will display 720p and 1080p content optimally. The Sensation also has excellent audio output, which makes this an excellent multimedia platform.

This phone comes with Android 2.3 with the Sense v3.0 user interface. HTC's sense interface has been my  opinion the best manufacturer customize interface made. It made Window Mobile look and work decently and it is my personal favorite interface for Android. This is a subjective thing, so you may or may not like Sense. If you plan to do extensive user customization of your interface, than HTC's Sense offers no major advatange to you. If you want something complete out of the box in terms of widgets, and like a "standardized" look, this one is for you.

What else. The Sensation comes with 768MB of RAM, 50% more than on the Optimus 2x. The Sensation also does 1080p video recording at 30fps.

In several aspects the HTC is not as good as the Optimus 2x. While the Sensarions 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm MSM 8260 Snapdragon may sound impressive, it is based on the older A8 architecture and is overall slower the 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, ULP GeForce GPU, Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset.

It also comes with less internal storage than the Optimus 2x, with only 1GB of internal storage, even less than the HTC Desire HD which is supplants. It does come with a 8GB MicroSD card out of the box. 
My verdict. The Sensation adds enough to justify the higher price as against the Optimus 2x. The cheaper Optimus 2x makes for a better gaming platform while the Sensation is the better multimedia platform. If I was replacing my phone, this is the one I would buy.


Samsung Galaxy S II. Why buy this Php29,900 phone? It's Super AMOLED display is is arguably the best display you will find on a mobile phone and it is the fastest mobile phone in the planet. 

The Super AMOLED on the Galaxy S II as compared to its predecessor moves up a step in size, now at 4.3-inches. Resolution is still at 480 x 800, but that is sufficient even for the larger screen. Among the three phones we are comparing now, this one has the best display. 

The next big thing is inside. Inside is a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor, Mali-400MP GPU, Orion chipset. It is the fastest, by a fair margin, among the three phones compared here.

With 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage (there is also a 32GB model available) it is best in class. It also has the largest battery, with 10% more capacity than the three phones compared here. This combined with the energy efficient Super AMOLED screen gives it the best battery life among the three.  The still camera and 1080p video recording.

It does all this in a frame which is only 8.5mm thin, that is 2.4 mm thinner than it nearest competitor. The case is all plastic, but I think most buyers would put some kind of case protection these days, so that issue may be irrelevant. I have my phone in an OtterBox, it does not really matter that it has a nice aluminum frame inside. 

Is the 1.9K higher price than the Sensation or the 4.5K higher price than the LG Optimus 2x worth it? In a word, yes. Even with the highest price, the specificatons easily justify the higher price.

Verdict.My personal favorite is the Sensation. I love Sense. But if asked what it the best phone money can buy right now, the answer is easy, the Samsung Galaxy SII.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 2011 Smarthpone buyers guide - Part II

If you are looking for a smartphone priced at less than Php15,000 or thinking about getting a BlackBerry go to Part I of this guide here.

15-20K range.  A budget of Php15,000 to Php20,000 is the optimal budget for a smartphone buyer today. There are cheaper phones, at the cost of giving up useful features that you are likely to miss on a day to day basis. There are more expensive phones, but the typical user will probably never miss or even use the additional features on this higher end units.

What do you expect to get from a 15-20K smartphone today? You get a large (3.7-4 inch) high resolution (480 x 800) screen, a 1GHz processor and enough RAM to run pretty much any application smoothly, a decent camera, and HD video recording (720p).



The LG Optimus Black P970 has the specifications of 2010 high end phone in a 2011 chassis. Like many of the newer phones, this 4-inch Android powered smartphone has a thin sleek case, in this case 9.2 mm's thin. A feature unique to this phone is the ultra bright 700-nit display, the brightest ever to be placed on a phone. While this phone comes out of the box with Android 2.2, it was built to run Android 2.3 and correspondingly has a secondary front camera. At a Php19,900 suggested retail price, and fpr as low as Php18,400 this is probably the best value for money smartphone in the market today.

If for some reason the Optimus Black does not appeal to you, you can get what many considered to be the best Android phone in 2010, the HTC Desire. For the price of about Php18,000 you get a nicely built mobile phone with a smaller 3.7-inch screen and without a front camera. The Android powered Desire comes with HTC Sense User Interface, which I think it is the best manufacturer customized UI The HTC Desire will also receive a an update to Android 2.3.3, but that is probably the end of the line for the Desire.

Another option at about 17K is the Samsung Galaxy SL. It has similar specifications as the Optimus Black, but is a bit thicker and does not have front camera and no flash for the primary camera. The biggest drawback with this option is that it appears that this smartphone may not be getting an update to Android 2.3.

20-25K range. As strange as it may sound, adding another 5K to your budget may not actually get you a better phone. What you have in this category right now are several holdovers from 2010 and the HTC Desire S.



The HTC Desire S is an upgraded HTC Desire. It comes with 50% more RAM, double the internal memory, a more efficient processor, a front camera and Android 2.3. Priced at Php21,700.

Than you have the 2010 flagship Androids. You can still find a Samsung Galaxy S with its AMOLED screen and the HTC Desire HD with its mamoth 4.3 inch screen for a bit over 23K,

You may also want to look at the Windows Phone 7 version of the HTC Desire: the HTC Mozart. The HTC Mozart can be found now for as low as Php20,500.


In the end, if you have 25K today, you are still probably best off just getting the LG Optimus Black P970 and pocket the change.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Get traffic updates on your Android, iOS or Nokia Symbian devices

Tired of getting stuck in traffic unaware that you were driving into a major snarl. Try Street Smart. Street Smart is a free app from Numlock Solutions which gives you traffic updates. Street Smart is available for Android, iOS and Nokia Symbian devices.

How does the app work. Traffic updates are reported by users and the MMDA. Reporting a update is easy, it can take as little as three clicks. Or you can add a further description if you want.


User reports show up in a Map View and a List View. Map View is great. It shows updates shows user updates from the last hour, on Google Maps. This part of the app is easy to use and gives quick at a glance information.


The Map View has no MMDA reports. Right now most of the reports are from the MMDA. To get MMDA reports, or user reports older than one hour, you have to go to the List View. List View can get confusing since there is no easy way to figure out which one is relevant to you without reading the entire list. You cannot segregate updates from a particular city.


Worse, on List View some user reports are vague since some user reports do not display locational info and have to click a link to see where the report is from. MMDA reports, are confusing to read in general unfortunately. Now if the MMDA people sarted using Street Smart, that would really make this app a super app.

So what do we what do we. Map View great. List View so so. With more user reports there would be no need to use the List View at all, so there may really be no need to improve the app. More users could fix "weakness" in the current interface. I would not mind dropping List View altogether. 

But when you get more users submitting more reports, it might be necessary to have a way to filter reports to limit it to a particular city or a given radius from your particular location. Right now user reports are still few in number. Lets see how this pans out.

Anyway, enough of our comments. Want to see how it works, or near get real time traffic info on your PC? Check out Street Smarts traffic reports here.

Globe Telecom's Super Surf Data Plan

 
Globe Telecom data plan used to be a Php1,200 peso add-on to any of its plans and a was offered as a free add-on to Plan 3799. The bad part about this was that the data add-on was not considered as part of the plan insofar as available phones were concerned. Meaning if you got Plan 999 plus a data add-on, you get a phone for Plan 999 while paying at least Php2,199 a month. Now if you get Data Plan 1,799 you get a Plan 1,799 phone.

Cost of unlimited data at Globe Telecom has gone down from Php1,200 a month to Php999. The new plans are as follows:
  • Plan 999 - Unlimited data, plus a freebie and you pay per minute of call and text outside the freebie.
  • Plan 1799 - Unlimited data, plus three freebies and Php800 consumable.
  • Plan 2499 - Unlimited data, plus five freebies and Php1,500 consumable.  

For details on the "freebies" go to Globe Telecom's website.

This effectively makes Globe Telecom's Super Surf data plan cheaper than Smart Unlimited Data Plans. Smart Unlimited Data Plans also have a 1.5GB cap per month and tethering is not allowed.  No mention of the cap on Globe Telecom's Super Surf data plan. If it is capped, it would be 1GB per day.

HTC Sensation priced


HTC's flagship, the HTC Sensation is priced at Php31,900, but with the Samsung's killer Android priced, the Galaxy S II priced at Php29,900 and Nvidia Tegra 2 powered LG Optimus 2x available as low as Php25,900 the Php31,900 suggested retail price is not very competitive.
Top Electronics has stocks of the HTC Sensation at Php28,000. Will this be low enough for you to forgo buying the Samsung Galaxy S II?

June 2011 Smarthpone buyers guide - Part I

A bit late in the month, but we wanted to wait to complete the dual core cast. We normally start with the most expensive, this time we will go the reverse order and think that will be a more helpful guide.

10K or less. These days Php10,000 gets you a lot. You can a brand new BlackBerry with a two year warranty, a Nokia Symbian smartphone with free turn by turn navigation. What else. Well there are Samsung Bada phones.There are also a whole gaggle of Google Android available.

There are no good reasons to get a Bada phone.  If you plan to avail of BlackBerry services, stop reading this guide and get the BlackBerry which fits your budget. Each step price increase of higher end models brings useful features worth paying for. If you are looking for the best free navigation option for the Philippines, Nokia with their OVI maps provides that. Other than that, we recommend that you get the LG Optimus One P500.

LG Optimus One: Best option below 10K

Why? If you are in the market for a modern touchscreen phone you want one with a touchscreen friend OS.  This means you should be looking at an Apple iOS, Windows Phone 7 or Google Android device. At 10K or less, the only available options at this price, are Androids. 

Since touchscreen is the order of the day, get the highest resolution device available and in general the larger the screen the better. At below 10K, most Android run 240 x 320 screens resolutions, which looked pixelized even on small screens. There are two options that run the higher 320 x 480 (same as an iPhone 3GS) resolution. You have Sony Ericsson X8 and the LG Optimus One P500.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X8 is now an obsolescent product forever to be stuck at Android 2.1, so I suggest you pass on this one. LG Optimus One P500, is running Android 2.2, with a promised upgrade to Android 2.3 on the way. The Optimus One also has a larger screen (3.2-inches), more RAM and a larger battery than the Xperia X8. So the Optimus One beats the Xperia X8 in both software and hardware.

What about all the other sub-10K Androids. We do have the LG Optimus Me, the Samsung Galaxy 5, Mini and Fit, and a few months ago, we would were recommending phones with these specifications. A few months is a long time in the mobile phone industry, and we really wont be recommending anything with a screen resolution lower than 320 x 480 anymore. 

The LG Optimus can be had for as low as Php9,800 with an official warranty. Sure, you can save 1-2K on a lower end unit with a lower resolution screen. The cost will be app compatibility. A 320 x 480 resolution will give you better app compatibility, and over time more and more newer apps wont run or run efficiently on 240 x 320 screens. Android phones with 240 x 320 screen resolutions are on the way out. Now is not the time to buy one of this anymore. 

10-15K range. Adding Php5,000 opens up a whole bunch of new interesting choices. 

HTC Wildfire S: Premium look and feel, but a bit short on specs

The HTC Wildfire S is available for as low as Php13,000 with an official HTC warranty. The question is, is it worth 3K more than the LG Optimus One. Both phones have 3.2-inch, 480 x 320 screens, 600MHz processors with Adreno 200 graphics, and 512MB of RAM. The HTC does have a more premium looking case, a Gorilla Glass protected display and a LED flash for the camera. So the HTC is a step up in hardware. 

From a software standpoint the Wildfire S comes out of the box with Android 2.3, has the HTC Sense interface (which in our opinion is the best manufacturer customize Android interface) and has flash support in the browser (but not full browser flash support). Really, the only good reason to get this phone at this price range is if you want the Sense UI. If not, the LG Optimus One P500 offers better value for money and Samsung has something that is a better value for money option at this price bracket.

Samsung Galaxy Ace: The best choice under 15K

The Samsung Galaxy Ace, priced at Php13,500 with an official Samsung warranty is a notch up in price over the LG Optimus One P500 and offers hardware well worth the price difference. Instead of a 3.2-inch screen, you get a larger 3.5-inch screen protected by Gorilla Glass. The processor in the Galaxy Ace is a 800MHz unit, faster than the 600MHz processor in the Optimus One. The Galaxy Ace also comes with the best still camera at this price range.

In the end, you buy this for the 3.5-inch screen. That is the same size as the screen on an iPhone, and for many may be the best compromise between a large screen and a small form factor. It does not sound like a big difference, but when you compare a 3.5-inch screen with a 3.2-inch screen phone side by side, the difference is larger than it sounds since the size is measured diagonally.

Part two of this guide can be found at this link.

Samsung Galaxy S II retail price and pre-order promo


The suggested retail price of the Samsung Galaxy S II in the Philippine will be Php29,900. But Samsung will be offering for pre-order of 300 units of Galaxy S II at a promo price of P26,990 with a free car charger, car dock and hard case. Pre-order period is from June 24 to 30, 2011. We just got this info from another site, so it is better that we direct you to them. For more details on how to pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S II, head over to Technograph.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So, how much have you spent on apps?

In the period of over a month that paid Google Android apps have been offered in the Philippines I sent over a HK$10.00 donation to Katecca, forked over US$5.98 to Laminar Research and UK£1.23 to TouchType. Roughly about Php403. 

I am trying out PicSay and Photo Enhance now, after having used Abode Photoshop Express for some time, and might buy that app (although I am looking for something that can crop and maintain a 720p size). Will probably unlock 2-3 more planes on X-Plane 9 and send another US$2.97 to Laminar Research. 

Software has never been so inexpensive. The low prices make it really tempting to buy more. How much have you spent on apps?

Nokia's Meego powered N9

In November 2009, Nokia release its Maemo powered N900. The Nokia N900 has a cult following in the tech community but the phone never caught on with the mass market. Maemo was based on the Debian Linux distribution. Meego was first announced at Mobile World Congress in February 2010 by Intel and Nokia in a joint press conference. Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo were merged  into one new common project call MeeGo. According to Intel, MeeGo was developed because Microsoft did not offer comprehensive Windows 7 support for the Atom processor.
We have seen a few MeeGo powered netbooks, and if you want to try MeeGo for netbooks, it is a free download

Now, you have it on a Mobile phone. The Nokia N9.
Nokia Press Release:

SINGAPORE – At the Nokia Connection event in Singapore today, Nokia introduced the Nokia N9, the first-ever pure touch smartphone that is all about making things simpler. Nokia N9 focuses on the most important things that people do: use apps, get notifications and switch between different activities. Navigating the UI is done with a simple gesture, a swipe of a finger. Let’s have a closer look at what the Nokia N9 is bringing to the game.

SWIPE

The team behind the MeeGo-based Nokia N9 brought together elements of industrial design, software development and user interface advancements, as well as a developer platform to create a better way to use a phone. All that’s needed to use the Nokia N9 is a simple gesture, a swipe of the finger. It is an intuitive way to use all the different features and functions. Whenever you are in an application, you just swipe from the edge of the screen to go back home.

UNIBODY DESIGN

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where the hardware and software fit together seamlessly. The large, 3.9 inch curved glass AMOLED display lets the applications shine and take full benefit of the user interface. Thanks to the innovative laminated display technology, it looks like applications are literally floating on top of the screen. The body of the Nokia N9 is made from the best in polycarbonate material engineering today, enabling superior antenna performance over most other competitors’ smartphones. This means better reception, better voice quality and fewer dropped calls. The Nokia N9 comes in three colours: black, cyan and magenta and with large storage capacities of 16GB and 64GB on the two variants to be made available.

NO BUTTONS

The Nokia N9 is the world’s first pure touch screen phone without any front-facing buttons at all. You unlock the phone by just double-tapping the screen.

THREE HOME VIEWS

The user interface in Nokia N9 is designed around the things people typically use the most. This is why there are three recognizable home views arranged in a carousel: 1) Applications for launching and organizing your apps. 2) Events for social networking feeds and notifications for calls, texts, calendar events, etc. 3) Open applications for switching between all live apps you have used recently. You can pinch and zoom the screen to see either four or nine open app icons. In fact, the Nokia N9 delivers the best multitasking experience on any phone!

POWERFUL CAMERA

The 8MP auto focus camera with Carl Zeiss optics, dual LED flash and super wide 28mm lens works faster from start to capture than any other manufacturer’s smartphone camera in the market. HD video and true 16:9 resolution photos are supported. You can share your photos via MMS, email, NFC and many online services including Flickr and Facebook.

FAST WEB BROWSER

The fast web browser is built on the latest Webkit 2 technology. Even while loading a web page, the screen remains responsive. You can have several browser windows open in the open applications view and switching between them is, again, fast and easy. Favourite websites are shown as visual thumbnails, supported by a full browsing history. Wide HTML5 support offers access to rich web applications and fast video playback.

LATEST MAPS

The Nokia N9 has the latest Nokia Maps with free, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation for walking and driving. There is also a dedicated Drive app for in-car navigation, which lets you start navigating to your destination instantly after entering your destination. Public transport routing in 85 cities means you can find the quickest route on foot or by tram, metro or train. You can also discover nearby places with caf├ęs, shops, hotels and more, all marked along the way.

DOLBY SOUND

Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital Plus support on the Nokia N9 turns regular stereo audio into personal surround sound on any headphones – first on any mobile phone.

NFC-ENABLED

Pairing between NFC-enabled accessories is easier than ever before – you do Bluetooth pairing only once and after that you can connect to them just by touching. You can also share content like photos or business cards via NFC.

The things that make the Nokia N9 unique – the industrial design, developments in software and user interface, and the ease of developer experience with Qt – will live on in a variety of ways in Nokia. You can go and experience the Nokia N9 for yourself at swipe.nokia.com. The site is full of interactive videos that show how the product works in real life – it is the second best thing to actually having the product in your hand! The Nokia N9 will be in stores later this year, with availability and local pricing to be announced closer to the sales start date.
I do not want to comment on the N9's software. I have not seen it yet. The hardware is promising.

A 3.9-inch 480 x 854 AMOLED screen, 16/64 GB of internal storage, 1 GB of RAM, a 8 MP Carl Zeiss optics autofocus camera with a dual LED flash, HDMI out...  What we are surprised about is that it runs on a 1GHz Cortex A8 CPU, PowerVR SGX530 GPU, TI OMAP 3630 chipset. We were kind of expecting an Atom inside.

With Nokia firmly behind Windows Phone 7, and its Meego phone not running an Intel processor I do not know where this new branch in Nokia smartphone development is headed. We will watch with interest.
 

Around the Web: Window Phone 7 Mango Beta Reviews



 Basically what was good is getting better...

Review from Laptop Magazine: Window Phone 7 Mango Beta Review

Review from PCMag: Microsoft Windows Phone 7 "Mango"

Review from PCWorld: Windows Phone 7 “Mango” Hands On 

Nokia's Symbian Anna update

... and a lot more actually.
Symbian Anna, which made its appearance with the Nokia E6 and X7 earlier this month. While we really cannot recommend buying a E6 or X7 given that they are expensive devices and Symbian OS is going the way of the Dodo, if you already own an S^3 device, the Anna upgrade complies with the promises Nokia made about a major update. But Symbian Ana is a big improvement over Symbian S^3.

By July 2011, Symbian Anna will be found in retail Nokia N8, E7, C-7 and C6-01 mobile phones. Owners of Nokia N8, E7, C-7 and C6-01 mobile phones can download the update by August 2011.

Is there a Symbian device we recommend? I am not sure if the manufacturing issues with the Nokia N8 have been resolved, but if the issues have been resolved the excellent 12MP camera is enough in my opinion to overlook the now obsolescent operating system. 

We have had no luck on the three Nokia N8's we have acquired from December 2010 to January 2011. Three out of three shutdown/constant reboot problems. The second unit was replaced outright by a unit of a different manufacturer sicne it one had the problem right out of the box. The two others operated normally for two months or so before showing the same symptoms and the motherboards were replaced under warranty. One Nokia N8 which had its motherboard replaced in February 2011 is still going strong. The other one was sold after it was repaired.

Who knows, I may buy one down the road as a back-up to my HTC Desire HD. Yes, the camera is that good, and HDMI out and USB-on-the-Go is a very useful feature.

Monday, June 20, 2011

SwiftKey for Android

My HTC Desire HD's Sence UI comes with a better than average keyboard. It even has a Compact QWERTY option. Where is really falls short is the dictionary. Many words seem to be missing from the dictionary. It does allow new words to be added, but that does not solve its shortcoming. It will often predict a word in the plural, before the singular. This forces you to type the entire word, less the "s". Worse, it adds some of your typos into the dictionary so I regularly clean up my dictionary.
So after four months I decided to try something else.


SwiftKey from TouchType was very well regarded. I was sold in a few minutes. Word prediction is amazing. Not only does it predict the word you want to write from the first few letters you type, it predicts the next word based on the previous words you typed. It also learns your typing habits and gives you suggestions based on what you have written before. 

The other place where this app works is that it uniformly shows you only three three word suggestions by default, which is actually more useful than seeing more options. Instead of a different number of suggested words being shown in different configurations on the screen, limiting it to three, which are always found in the same place on the screen results, is much more intuitive.

It is a paid app costing Php87 local, but there is a 31-day demo and a Beta version which you can use for free. Buyers of the current version get a free upgrade to the next version.

New dark theme from Swiftkey X (Beta)

Is this the best keyboard? I do not know. I have used Swype, and can imagine that  many would prefer Swype. There are other well regarded keyboards in the market. But I am sticking with Swiftkey. Since I have been using it, I type faster have zero typos. Yes, zero typos. Basically, there really is nothing more I want, so it give me no reason to look at anything else.

Dual core drag race: LG Optimus 2x, HTC Sensation or Samsung Galaxy S II


If you are in the market for a dual core phone,  it means for some reason or other you want the fastest phone money can buy. So, lets start there which is the fastest?

Hardware.

The LG Optimus 2x

  • Dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 proccessor, ULP GeForce GPU, Tegra 2 chipset 
  • 512MB RAM 

HTC Sensation

  • Dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, Adreno 220 GPU, Qualcomm MSM 8260 Snapdragon chipset 
  • 768MB RAM 

Samsung Galaxy S II

  • Dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 proccessor, Mali-400MP GPU, Orion chipset 
  • 1GB RAM


Synthetic Benchmarks. Our favorite source of mobile phone information, GSM Arena has benchmarked the LG Optimus 2x, the HTC Sensation or Samsung Galaxy S II. 

In five out of six benchmarks the Samsung Galaxy S II is the fastest, with a tie with the HTC Sensation in one benchmark. As against the LG Optimus 2x, the Samsung Galaxy S II rules all the benchmarks.

  • Galaxy S II versus Sensation (won-loss-draw): 5-0-1
  • Galaxy S II versus Optimus 2x: 6-0-0

So the Galaxy S II is king. Who comes in second?

The LG Optimus 2x beats the sensation in four out of six benchmarks, the HTC Sensation taking one benchmark and forging a tie in another.

  • Optimus 2x versus Sensation: 4-1-1

The LG Optimus 2x beats the HTC Sensation. Given the LG 2x is the cheapest option it is not bad option at all. 


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Six months on Ubuntu Linux

I have been on Ubuntu Linux for six months now. I first use Version 10.10 and am not on Version 11.04 on a four year old HP Compaq 6510b which used to run Window Vista with the RAM upgraded from 1GB to 2.5GB.


Hardware. When I installed Ubuntu 10.10 the benefits were clear immediately. I found the operating system so efficient I downgraded back down to 1GB of RAM. I have another HP 6510b running Vista with 2.5GB of RAM. I place the 2GB of RAM in another HP 6510b running Vista. Ubuntu Linux with 1GB of RAM runs faster than Vista with 4GB. 

Two finger scrolling works on the touchpad. I was able to output video at 720p via the VGA port to my LCD TV. Things I cannot do with Vista. Installing Ubuntu made what felt like an old slow machine to a new fast machine. 

While most everything including WiFi and Bluetooth worked without any special configuration, I still have had no luck with the Fingerprint scanner and configuring a printer is still a pain.
The upgrade to 11.04 brought the new Unity interface which I love at a moderate increase in system resource use, I lost the ability output video at 720p now being limited to 1024 x 768, and the hardware mute button indicator light on the HP 6510b is a little buggy, displaying the the laptop is set to mute mode when it is not. The button itself works fine.

Software. Ubuntu has its own "App Store", but outside that installing software gets difficult. Even when you have version designed specifically for Ubuntu Linux installing is more than a download and double click affair. Installing Google Earth and Dropbox required searching on Google to get them working and entering commands via the Terminal. 

Once you get them working, functionality might be below 100%. Sharing places via email on Google Earth does not work. 

Summary. Ubuntu Linux is 90% of the way to being ready for the prime time. There really is no need to improve the interface or its functionality right now. It is at parity with everything else in the market, but hardware compatibility and installing of third party software is what needs work.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Ace "Sleep of Death Issue"


Six days ago I picked up a brand new Samsung Galaxy Ace. Five time in four days it suffered the so-called "Sleep of Death". The handset is still running, you can call it, but the phone itself will not ring and the cannot be revived from sleep mode. 

We have had the new unit now for 48 hours. Firmware version is KC1 and WiFi is set to Sleep Policy is set to "When Screen Turns Off." WiFi has been kept running for 48 hours, whether or not there is a WiFi signal in the area. I used both the power button and home button to wake the phone and there has been no recurrence of the dreaded "Sleep of Death." Only way to revive the phone is to remove the battery.

If your Galaxy Ace suffers from this problem do not bother downgrading the firmware to KB1, or setting the WiFi Sleep Policy to "Never" or trying some other fix. The problem affects only a small number of Samsung Galaxy Ace handsets, and if you have the Sleep of Death problem your phone is defective. Have the unit replaced since the problem does not affect all Samsung Galaxy Ace units and is not a Google Android problem.

If you are planning to buy a Samsung Galaxy Ace it would be best to clarify with the seller its replacement policy. When I bought the handset from Absenson's I was told that it came with a seven day replacement policy. When I brought it back to them in the "Sleep of Death" state and demonstrated to them the problem I was informed that they do not have a technician in-house so the phone would have to be brought to a third party service company for evaluation. With a bit of "persuation" I got the unit replaced.

It might not be that "easy" for everyone. When you buy a mobile phone clarify how their seven day replacement policy works. In previous cases where I had to replace a unit within seven days (an Asus netbook and an Acer laptop), the shops I bought them from diagnosed them in-house and replaced them promptly. Don't buy from a retailer who cannot handle the seven day replacement warranty in house.

I am very satisfied with the Galaxy Ace (this is my fifth Samsung phone or tablet), and even if some units may suffer from the "Sleep of Death" issue, I would have no problem buying one or recommending one. Just make sure you get if from a responsible retailer.

June 21, 2011 update: Phone is past 120 hours uptime with no sleep of death incidents or other problems without having been rebooted.

June 27, 2011 update: Phone is past 250 hours uptime with no sleep of death incidents or other problems without having been rebooted.

Is now time to try Windows Phone 7?



I was asked why I do not recommend Windows Phone 7 devices. I do and I don't. On this blog, I don't, because I can only explain so much in writing and I cannot query the reader. With friends, I tell them it may be the right device for them, but in a setting where it is possible to guide them if Windows Phone 7 will satisfy them.

Premium price makes entry a hard choice. The hard part about recommending a Windows Phone 7 device is the price. When I was looking at my next smartphone, I have a HTC Desire HD in one hand and a HTC 7 Mozart in the other. The two devices were the the same price point. So I had the option of joining an established eco-system or being a early adopter in an up and coming operating system.

The mistake, I think, with Windows Phone 7 launch was that the devices carried premium prices in a market with two established leaders, Google's Android and Apple's iOS. I am not saying that the hardware did not justify the price, but it made a buy decision hard. Microsoft should have tried to do what Samsung did with their Bada OS. Offer a high end phone at 70% of the price that it would normally command, which was what Samsung did when they released their Bada powered S8500 Wave. In other words, subsidize the phone, for early adopters.

This month Evernote was released for Windows Phone 7, and Angry Birds is on the way soon. The Windows Phone 7 ecosystem is improving every month. With each passing month, the high end specifications of 2010, become mid-priced phones in 2011 and joining a developing ecosystem becomes an easier choice.

Why bother? We have iOS and Android, do we really need Windows Phone 7? In a word yes. iOS and Android have a familiar feel. They feel like hand held computers. The Windows Phone 7 interface, with its like tiles really feels like a phone interface. Everything you need is displayed on the screen without having to hunt in menu's and sub-menus. It is a powerful operating system with a very simple and elegant interface. 

iOS is basically a well design app launcher. Android is an app launcher with widgets. Windows Phone 7 organizes information into hubs accessed through live tiles in the home screen. Rather than accessing an one app to get contact information and place a call or send an SMS to a person, launch another app to get that persons Twitter or Facebook updates and another to check a person latest mails to you, Windows Phone's people hub offers a integrates this into one place.Navigating this hub is as easy as navigating a simple web page.

Is now the time? Prices of Windows Phone 7 phones have gone down. Whether it will suit you or not depends on whether the available apps already suit your needs. As of June 2011, the Windows Phone Marketplace has 21,000 apps available. That may sound like a a lot, but iOS has more than 380,000 with 11,000 new apps a month, while Android has over 200,000 apps with more than 28,000 apps a month.
My advice. I would probably wait a little longer till 2012 when Windows Phone 7 devices get cheaper, Nokia joins the fray and the Markertplace grows just a bit more. At the very least, I would wait for Angry Birds... who can live without that.

The unwanted netbook soldiers on


 The netbook may be about to disappear, but it is amazing what changes this product brought to the laptop market. Three years ago, a 10.1-inch Atom powered netbook would cost you Php25-30K. When the first netbooks came out, finding an ultraportable under 30K was amazing. A 12.1-inch ultraportables back than would cost you more that three times as much.  The netbook provided a cheaper alternative to those wanting a 3-pound laptop but not willing to pay the premium price.
By 2009, the price of a netbook went down to 20-22K. But the notebook changed enough to make updating your one year old model worthwhile. Intel did not give you a good reason to upgrade your netbook, but netbook manufacturers package larger batteries with their 2009 models. While most netbooks in 2008 came with 3-cell batteries, most 2009 models came with 6-cell batteries makign all day  computing commonplace. 

In 2010, netbook pricing remained pretty much stagnant, and technology remained pretty much stagnant. Dual Core Atom's did not provide a significant performance boost giving you little reason to upgrade. At the same time, Apple changed the mobile scene with the tablet and ultraportables powered by Intel's Core i3 became available at about 30K closing the price gap with netbook while providing performance levels way beyond what any netbook could could produce.

Intel let netbook technology remain stagnant, as if it were a platform they wanted to kill. The truth of the matter is they did. Profit margins on netbooks are small, but in the wake of poor economic conditions, selling these cheap boxes kept sales up in a weak market. Netbooks were a temporary placeholder to be phased out, when the market grew tired of their sluggish performance and when the economy improved enough to allow buyers to spend more for a more powerful laptop.
By this time, Intel was probably itself hoping the netbook was dead with the market flocking to higher priced laptops. What Intel did not foresee was that the tablet would come around, and the cheap netbook platform would not be phased out by more expensive laptops, but by low priced tablets.

With the advent of the tablet, the netbook has been forced to soldier on, and to meet the tablet onslaught, what would have cost you 20-22K in 2009 and 2010, would cost you about 11K to 15K today, priced just under the tablet price point. Without a viable tablet contender, Intel has been forced to have the netbook soldier on and drop its price. The netbook is a placeholder once again.

Smart Communications Android and Windows Phone 7 smartphones


For the past year, Globe Telecom seemed to have the best line-up of modern smartphones while Smart carried mainly Symbian based phones with an occasional Android or Windows Phone 7 device offered. Smart Communications has corrected that and is now offering a formidable set of Android and Windows Phone 7 handsets: 

Huawei Ideos (Google Android 2.2) - Plan 500
Samsung Galaxy Mini (Android 2.2) - Plan 1200
Sony Ericsson X8 XPERIA Pro - Plan 1200
Samsung Galaxy Ace (Android 2.3) - Plan 1800
Sony Ericsson X10 XPERIA Pro - Plan 1800
HTC Desire S (Android 2.3) - Plan 2500 or Data Plan 2000
HTC 7 Mozart (Windows Phone 7) - Plan 2500 or Data Plan 3000
Sony Ericsson X12 XPERIA Arc (Android 2.3) - Plan 2500 or Data Plan 3000
HTC Sensation (Android 2.3/Dual Core) - Data Plan 3000

Really, great options at all price points.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sony Ericcson W8 Walkman Android - WOW and WHY?



The Sony Ericsson W8, the first Android powered Walkman phone is now available in the Philippines. With a 3-inch 320 x 480 screen, a 600MHz processor and Adreno 200 graphics which can be had for the price of Php8,600, it is a steal. With 99 x 54 x 15 mm and weighing in at 104g it is a great choice for those looking for a small form factor Android. Those in the market for a budget Droid will find this to be a worthy competitor to the Samsung Galaxy 5, Galxy Mini or the LG Optimus Me both of which have lower resolutions screens.

There is only one fly in the ointment. It runs Android 2.1 (Eclair). Pretty much every new phone in the market these days is coming out with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) although many phones being sold today still carry Android 2.2 (Froyo).
In our opinion a Froyo phone is not a deal breaker. Gingerbread is cool, but the Eclair to Froyo upgrade is much more important than the Froyo to Gingerbread move. I could happily live with a Froyo phone for the next year or two. But Eclair? Who releases a phone running Eclair in 2011? With Eclair, you can only install apps on the phones internal storage. With on 128MB of internal storage (and much less user usable storage) the number of apps you can install on this phone will be limited.

So to Sony, WOW and WHY?



Thursday, June 16, 2011

HTC Sensation and Wildfire officially launched in the Philippines



Hardware Zone attended the HTC Sensation and Wildfire launch party. The Sensation has a suggested retail price of Php31,990 while the Wildfire S has a suggested retail price of Php15,500. 

The Php15,500 Wildfire S is selling at cash Php13,000 from authorized HTC Distributors. The Php15,500 price probably applies to the 12-month "zero" interest deals. We would expect the same thing for the Sensation price fo Php31,990. Those paying cash can probably get it for below Php30K.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gingerbread coming to the HTC Desire after all!


Twenty-four hours after posting a post by HTC UK on it Facebook page that Gingerbread won't be coming to the HTC Desire, a new post confirms that it will:

Contrary to what we said earlier, we are going to bring Gingerbread to HTC Desire.
Thumbs up!

Around the web: A world gone mobile

Service. Google introduces new shortcuts to commonly searched local categories, like restaurants, coffee shops and bars, in the form of icons on the mobile google homepage. Fire-up your mobile web browser and point it at Google :)



Tablets. "The outstanding Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Honeycomb tablet is lighter and a hair thinner than the Apple iPad 2, and has a smaller footprint than either the Motorola Xoom or the Acer Iconia Tab A500..." Read about it at Tech Radar.

Mobile phones. The Milestone in qHD and dual core. "The Motorola Milestone 3 is still unofficial but its first full review just went online." Read about it at GSM Arena.

Operating systems. Nokia to launch a “market disrupting device.” Meego! Read about it at Phone Arena.

Those are some of the interesting thing on my Twitter feed today.

Apps. My wife says to try Blast Monkeys, free on the Android Market. A review on the Market says "Addicting... nice change up during the frustrating time of angry birds :)"

Just what we needed. Instead of launching birds from a sling shot, launch monkeys from a canon.

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