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Nokia 808 PureView: Smartphone That Take's Marvelous Photos

Today, mobile phone leader Nokia Corporation practically set a new standard by which the world will judge smartphone imaging with its new flagship handset, the Nokia 808 PureView.

As the very first smartphone to feature Nokia PureView Imaging Technologies, Nokia 808 PureView brings together high resolution sensors, renowned Carl Zeiss optics and Nokia developed camera algorithms, which will help usher in new top-of-the-line smartphone imaging experiences for future Nokia handsets.
With its camera set to high-resolutions (of up to 38 megapixels), Nokia 808 PureView has the ability to zoom in and capture an image, crop and resize afterwards to expose incredible levels of detail. With superior low-light performance - that can perhaps match or surpass that of iPhone 4S - and the ability to save in compact file sizes for sharing in social networks, emails, and MMS, Nokia 808 PureView is truly a smartphone users fond of taking photos with their handsets can rely on.

On top of its superior still imaging capabilities, Nokia 808 PureView also features full HD 1080p video recording and playback with 4X 'lossless' zoom - which means it captures fine details even at full zoom - and the an all-new technology called 'Nokia Rich Recording'. Nokia Rich Recording enables recording of audio at CD-like levels of quality, previously possible only with external microphones. The phone also comes with Dolby Digital Plus for 5.1 channel surround sound playback and exclusive Dolby Headphone technology, transforming stereo content into a personal surround sound experience over any type of headphone.

"Nokia PureView imaging technology sets a new industry standard by whatever measure you use," shares Jo Harlow, Nokia Smart Devices - Executive Vice President. "People will inevitably focus on the 41 megapixel sensor, but the real quantum leap is how the pixels are used to deliver breath-taking image quality at any resolution and the freedom it provides to choose the story you want to tell."

The 808 PureView will retail for about 450 Euros and will hit markets come May.

Kaspersky Launches Tablet Security for Android

At next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Kaspersky Lab will unveil its tailored security solution for Android tablets.

Kaspersky Lab is set to unveil its tailored security solution for Android-based tablets at the world’s largest international mobile technology exhibition later this month.

The official launch of the latest version of Kaspersky Tablet Security will take place on 28 February at Mobile World Congress 2012, in Barcelona, Spain. The product includes cloud technology support for antivirus technologies, web security and anti-theft protection. It is a specialised security solution that ensures both protection against malicious and fraudulent software, and the inviolability of personal data in case of loss or theft of a device.

Accompanying the launch, Kaspersky Lab CEO and co-founder Eugene Kaspersky will host a press conference: ‘The Mobile Environment as a Paradise for Cyber Criminals’.

The conference will kick off with Eugene Kaspersky presenting his forecasts for the development of organised mobile cybercrime, how it is evolving out of traditional cybercrime and what makes it different. Senior Malware Analysts Vicente Diaz and Denis Maslennikov will give an overview of the current mobile threat situation, while Victor Dronov, Senior Product Manager, Mobile Solutions, will present the latest version of Kaspersky Tablet Security and a beta-version of the new Parental Control product for Android and iOS operating systems.

Acer Aspire S3 Sleek Laptop Review

The Acer Aspire S3 looks very nice in the product photos, and it is often associated with Ultrabooks because this type of design, which is inspired from the Macbook Air, has been used by many PC manufacturers in their recent designs. Although Ultrabooks often share a similar hardware platform from Intel, they differ more than one may think, and depending on how they were designed, the end-user experience can be very different from one model to the next, so don’t let the superficial resemblance fool you. 

Technical highlights:
  • 13.3” WXGA (1366×768)
  • Core i5 2467M (dial-core) 1.6Ghz, 4GB RAM
  • GPU: Intel 3000
  • Windows 7 Home 64
  • 320GB HDD (283GB formatted), 5400rpm, 8MB cache, 3Gb/s
  • WiFi B/G/N, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3-Cell battery 3260mAh
  • 0.7 x 12.7 x 8.6”
  • 2x USB 2.0

Industrial design:
The Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook has an agreeable design. It is thin, compact, and light. The case seems to be built with a Magnesium alloy, which is a classic material for laptops and notebooks. Overall, it feels rigid enough, but there is a little bit of “flex”, especially with the display – it’s not as flexible as the Toshiba Ultrabook Z830 whose screen is very flexible, but we’re definitely not in the rigidity territory that the Macbook Air or Asus Zenbook are in.

In the back of the computer, you will find one HDMI port, two USB 2.0 ports, and the power connector. This is a good placement if you mainly use the computer on a desk as there won’t be any cables popping out from the sides, but if you need to plug and unplug things regularly, this may be a bit annoying. For example, we often use a 3G USB modem, and with the USB port in the back, it is possible (or probable) that backwards tilting would apply pressure to any USB device. You’ll have to think about this a little, and decide what works for you.

Because most of the ports are in the back, the sides are left clean with just a 3.5mm audio jack  and a full-size SD slot.

Overall,  the build quality to feel a bit plastic, and Acer should improve upon this, because with its XPS 13 Ultrabook ($999 with 128GB SSD), Dell has a much nicer (partial) carbon-fiber construction and a better “soft touch” finish wherever carbon-fiber is not used. The HP Envy 14 Spectre  is also extremely nice, and the build quality is even higher than the XPS 13. However, it is much more expensive, and at 4+lbs, it is heavier.

Keyboard (average, no back light): 
For the most part, the keyboard is decent and there are no major complaints. The only thing that should really be different are the arrow keys. They feel tiny, because they are tiny. If you type a lot of text, chances are that “Shift/CTRL + arrow” is a pretty big deal because that allows one to quickly navigate within a sentence.  There was a no backlit keyboard, but this is not the case. Again, some people care, while others don’t. Find out in which category you stand.

Trackpad (above-average): 
The trackpad is “OK”. It’s not super-smooth, but it’s better than most trackpads, but, not quite high-end or anything like that. It gets the job done and is definitely good enough and big enough.

Display (average): 
The display is OK, especially If you look at it straight-on. The view angle is not great and colors start changing rapidly as you move around, but this is a widespread behavior for computers in this category.  What I like the most about the display is the ability to recline very far back. This can be great in airplanes or in other situations where you need that extra tilt that most laptops don’t have. This is definitely a plus.

Performance (average):
In terms of processing performance, the Acer Aspire S3 processor does fairly well. For instance, when compared to my first generation Macbook Air, it is about 2X as fast in raw performance, which is as fast as the Samsung Series 9, according to Geekbench.

Perceived performance is much more important to the end-user, and things like pre-loaded software (bloatware) or a slow disk can affect performance drastically. Here, the 5400rpm drive clobbers the end-user experience when compared to SSD-equipped competitors. The boot time and shut down speed is 5X or 6X slower, and the overall system responsiveness is lower as well.

Boot/wake-up/shut down speed:

  • Shut down: 48 sec
  • Boot to browser: 60 sec
  • Wake-up from sleep: <2 sec

Battery life (fair)
For these tests, I have adjusted the power settings to make sure that the user experience is good enough. For example, the computer can play the test .mp4 1080p movie in Power Savings mode, but YouTube required switching to the more demanding Balanced Mode in order to get a smooth frame rate.

  • 60mn of 1080p MP4 video playback used up 29% of the battery
  • 60mn of 1080p Youtube playback (WiFi) used up 40% of the battery
  • 60mn of doing nothing (Display at 50%, no apps running) used up 18% of the battery. This is very important because this means that in the best-case scenario, the computer can stay on for about 5hrs, which is fairly good, but there are better options.

Charge time: recharging is as important as the battery life itself, because a quick charge can make a world of difference. It is clear that battery capacities won’t increase dramatically for any given size, but rapid-charging is already a working solution for industrial purposes, so consumer electronics will be next.
to reach a full (100%) charge, the Acer Aspire S3 takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes, but if you are on a clock, stop at 90% (1hr 50mn) because that’s when things start to slow down dramatically. This is not uncommon for batteries, but depending on laptops there are different behaviors, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

In the end, the battery life is fair, and it’s surprising what one can get out of a 3-Cell battery these days. You can watch 3 hours of 1080p video, and that’s a fair amount for a laptop. Tablets can go as long as 10 hours, but it’s clear that they don’t have the chops to run more demanding Windows applications. Also, most (older) laptops in circulation now would probably die shortly after the first hour of 1080p video.


The webcam quality of the Acer Aspire 3 is relatively low, which is unfortunately quite common in laptops. Even in good lighting conditions, the response time/frame rate is low, so I am guessing that the camera is slowing the shutter speed to compensate for the lack of light sensing capabilities. It’s never a good sign.

The speaker quality is pretty good, especially for a laptop this size. In a quiet environment, watching a movie, or listening to music is enjoyable. In a noisy environment (trade show, noisy cafe…) this could be more challenging.

The Acer Aspire S3 is an interesting laptop, which delivers good raw compute performance that is comparable to other laptops using the same Intel Core i5 24xx platform. However, the choice of using an mechanical hard drive (HDD) will put it at a significant disadvantage when compared to competitors who have opted for a Solid State Drive (SSD) because the SSD seek-time is nearly infinitely faster. SSD is a critical component of perceived performance in a computer. If you can afford one, get one.

If Acer could justify it with a much lower price point, there would be some grounds for debate. However, Dell has an offering that is just $100 higher and features a smaller form factor, a better display, a 128GB SSD, better build quality and… USB 3.0.

Interestingly, some competitors don’t offer the HDD option at all, so if you need a lot of storage (300GB+), and/or want to save a buck, the Acer Aspire S3 can be a slightly cheaper option. My personal take on this is that if you *really* need more than 128GB, you way want to consider a laptop with an SSD drive and use USB 3.0 for the additional storage.

In the end, the Acer Aspire S3 does look good, but in the current competitive landscape, this computer should be priced at $749, and not at $899. If you are willing to spend close $1000, there are simply much (much!) better options out there.

IPhone 5 Arrival This Fall 2012

Unlike what the previous rumor on Apple’s next generation iPhone claimed, the latest info suggests that the company might be planning a fall launch for the iPhone 5 (or whatever the company might end up calling it), and they will keep this schedule for many years to come, that is a new iPhone every fall.

According to available info, the iPhone 5 will be released in September or October 2012. This new info comes to us via Macotakara, a Japanese website, who were apparently tipped off by an “Asian reliable source”.

As you might know, Apple had a tradition of launching a new smartphone every year in June or July, a trend that ended with the arrival of the iPhone 4S in October last year. The new rumor makes sense as the company will most likely won’t think about releasing a new iPhone less than a year after the iPhone 4S came. And also the sales numbers of the 4S suggest that a fall release is not bad at all.

And the iPhone 5 is also expected to feature larger changes to the hardware (what they didn’t do with the 4S), although rumors are also flying around against that idea. But we haven’t got any confirmation about what all changes are coming all thanks to Apple’s notorious secrecy. Rumors point towards a device with a new aluminum back plate, 4+ inch display, a revamped antenna system and a quad-core A6 processor, but at this point, it will probably be the A5X.

But we all know what’s coming first. March 7th is the day we are waiting for. We will keep you updated on all things Apple. So stay tuned.

Tips On How To Choose a Good Smartphone

Are you upgrading to your very first smartphone? Or are you looking for the best device found in the market? Today, there are so many devices found in the market that it’s really hard to choose which one suits a consumer’s needs best. But we’re not complaining. Choice is actually a good thing. 

But what do all those technical specifications mean and what are their importance? To help you understand all those specs, here is a quick guide  to understanding all those specs in an easy-to-understand language.

Build Quality

Build quality refers to the choice of materials used in the construction of the smartphone exterior and the overall presentation. These days, materials used for the device usually include plastic, aluminium, metal, and glass. While it is general perception that phones constructed using glass and aluminium are more durable, plastic has its advantages. Plastic has a lesser chance of cracking or bending when dropped, keeps the weight of the phone down, and it does not interfere with signal reception.

Form Factor
Smartphones come in various form factor categories. These are three of the most popular: 

  • Full-Touch screen – A Full touchscreen is a phone made of predominantly touch screen panel. Texting/calling is done through on-screen menus, dial-pad, and keyboard which pop-out once they are activated. One advantage of this form is that it allows for a larger viewing area. This phone gives the best visual experience. In addition, a capacitive touch screen is also preferred over resistive touch screens because it responds better to touch gestures and allows multi-touch commands such as pinch-to-zoom. Examples: iPhone 4S, Nokia N9, Samsung Galaxy S II, Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, HTC Sensation XE.
  • Bar QWERTY keyboard – A physical QWERTY keyboard offers an advantage to mobile users who use their phones primarily for messaging. The downside is that phones with this form factor often have a small screen. Nonetheless, this is the ideal phone for heavy texters or those who very often have to send emails and check their social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Examples: BlackBerry Bold 9900, Nokia E6
  • Full-Screen plus slideout QWERTY keyboard – This phone has a full touch screen surface but with a slideout QWERTY (either portrait or landscape) keyboard underneath. What’s good is it has the benefits of a full touch screen phone and QWERTY phone present in one device. The downside, obviously, is the added bulk. Examples: Nokia E7, HTC Desire Z, BlackBerry Torch 9810. 

Display refers to the screen and its quality.

Type: Usually the type or name of the display is determined by or according to the manufacturer. S-LCD, for example, is made by Sony; Super AMOLED is by Samsung; NOVA, on the other hand, is by LG.

Super AMOLED Displays are known for their vibrant colors, wide viewing angles, and true blacks. It is such a pleasure to watch videos on these displays because the characters seem to jump out from the screen. Example: Samsung Galaxy S2

Then, there's Apple iPhone 4's Retina Display - made by LG and Samsung, known for high pixel density.

In addition, there’s also the Pentile Matrix and RGB discussion. Pentile Matrix uses RGBG pixel arrangement while RGB uses the traditional arrangement. What does this mean? RGB screens look sharper when viewed 6 inches from the eyes (which is not practical). I think this is just nitpicking which you shouldn’t worry about. 

LCD Displays on the other hand have IPS LCDs which are considered top notch. It delivers wider viewing angles and more accurate colors.

Resolution: Screen resolution is measured in terms of pixel density (ppi) As a general rule, the higher the screen resolution, the better. A higher screen resolution reduces the pixelation or the jagged corners on images and texts. 

FYI: Apple iPhone 4S' display has 330 ppi.

Screen size: It is measured diagonally across the screen. The larger the screen size, the better is the viewing experience. But the larger the screen size, the larger the device, hence, the harder it is to pocket. The trend in today’s smartphones is to go 4.3” and above. Talk about large screens: Samsung Galaxy Note has a massive 5.3” display. Actually, it's in a class of its own. It rests comfortably in that tight space between a smartphone and a tablet.

Random Access Memory (RAM) 
Storage area where your applications such as apps, games, and videos run. As such, the larger the RAM, the smoother the multi-tasking experience on a smartphone. These days, I believe 1GB of RAM is ideal.

Internal Storage
A larger internal memory, of course, is preferred. Note, however, that the larger storage gets, the more expensive a variant of the same model becomes. Personally, 16GB storage which can hold approximately 3,500 songs or 16 hrs video or 60 apps is already enough for a mobile device.

Expandable storage
Most phones, except for iPhones, usually have a microSD slot which can support up to 32GB of additional storage. MicroSD cards are getting cheaper by the day while memory capacity is getting larger. If the smartphone you're eyeing has a small internal storage, you can jack it up by popping in a microSD card.

Since more and more Free Wifi Zones are sprouting like mushrooms in the metro, you'd want to have a smartphone that can connect to Wifi. Anyway, almost all smartphones - and even some feature phones - today can connect to Wifi so it's almost a given.

Bluetooth is a kinda old technology that allows one device to transfer and send data to another nearby device. There are fresher versions of Bluetooth, however, which support faster speeds of transfer. The iPhone4S uses the latest version, the Bluetooth 4.0. 

Near-Field Communication or NFC 
Another connectivity feature - not particularly new - present in some smartphones these days. NFC allows users to communicate with other devices simply by tapping. This technology can enable phones to transfer data to other devices in a more convenient way and at a faster rate. Or it can also allow mobile users to purchase items just like a credit card. It’s cool and all but not yet widely used globally. It’s a feature that can found in BlackBerry Bold 9900 and Nokia N9. 

A common misconception is that higher megapixel count translates to stills with better quality. That's hardly the case. In fact, I think you only need 5MP shots for posting pictures online. In my opinion, what you need to look for in a camera on a mobile device is a large sensor and powerful lens as these will guarantee clear, crisp and brilliant shots. So far, Nokia N8 with Carl-Zeiss lens and 1/1.83” sensor has the best camera of any smartphone.

Fixed focus vs. Autofocus: Autofocus cameras - both for stills and videos - can detect the subject and make it appear sharp whilst blurring the background. Fixed-focus cameras have sharp images all throughout - but a major limitation is that you can't take clear close-up shots.

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) 
Processor is the part of the smartphone that’s responsible for performing calculations, and instructing the phone to respond to certain commands. In short, it is the brain of the smartphone, the most important part of this small computer. 

A more powerful processor is always desired because it makes the phone perform faster. Processor speed is measured in terms of MegaHertz or GigaHertz. Processors can be overclocked, to improve performance or underclock to reduce performance but at the benefit of battery life. The most powerful processors as of the present are the Dual-Core processors. 

Fastest Processor: Currently, the fastest processor running a full-fledged smartphone is the Dual Core 1.4GHz ARM Cortex A9 Exynos processor found in Samsung Galaxy Note.

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) 
A processing chip inside your smartphone that takes care of performing tasks involving graphics such as 3D rendering. This is a very important hardware when it comes to graphic intensive videos and games. 

Best GPU: The PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU found in the iPhone 4S is considered by some as ahead of its competitor, the ARM Mali-400MP in Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note basing on benchmarks.

Battery capacity is measured in terms of milliamp/hour (mAh) or how much power a battery will hold. Assuming that they are used on the same device, the higher the mAh, the longer it will last. There are many variables to consider in measuring battery consumption such as screen size, processor, and OS. 

Largest battery: The Galaxy Note has the largest battery of any smartphone today with 2500mAh. But that’s because it has the largest screen and the most powerful processor among all smartphones.

Longest battery life: Galaxy Note has the longest quoted talk-time Up to 26 h 10 min (2G) / Up to 13 h 30 min (3G) and standby-time Up to 960 h (2G) / Up to 820 h (3G). 

Operating System (OS) 
Refers to the program or software platform which runs the smartphone. This is also referred to as the ecosystem. Each ecosystem has its distinct user interfaces. A big factor in a device’s performance is the OS running it. An OS can either be an efficient resource user or resource demanding. An in-depth OS comparison shall be written in the future.

Most popular OS: Symbian OS is still the top or the most used mobile operating system for browsing the internet; it is followed by iOS and Android, respectively.

Google Chrome Mobile Browser for Android

Google launches the Chrome for Android Beta. As always, it continues to bring many preferred features and apps of Chrome to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich phones or tablets. Like the desktop version, Chrome for Android Beta is focused on speed and simplicity, but it also features seamless sign-in and sync so you can take web experience can be personalize with convenience, mobility and accessibility.

With Chrome for Android, you can search, navigate and browse fast—Chrome fast.  You can scroll through web pages as quickly as you can flick your finger. When searching, your top search results are loaded in the background as you type so pages appear instantly. And of course, both search and navigation can all be done quickly from the Chrome omnibox.

Chrome for Android is designed from the ground up for mobile devices. We reimagined tabs so they fit just as naturally on a small-screen phone as they do on a larger screen tablet. You can flip or swipe between an unlimited number of tabs using intuitive gestures, as if you’re holding a deck of cards in the palm of your hands, each one a new window to the web.
One of the biggest pains of mobile browsing is selecting the correct link out of several on a small-screen device. Link Preview does away with hunting and pecking for links on a web page by automatically zooming in on links to make selecting the precise one easier.
And as with Chrome on desktop, we built Chrome for Android with privacy in mind from the beginning, including incognito mode for private browsing and fine-grained privacy options (tap menu icon, ‘Settings,’ and then ‘Privacy’).

Sign in
You can now bring your personalized Chrome experience with you to your Android phone or tablet. If you sign in to Chrome on your Android device, you can:
  • View open tabs: Access the tabs you left open on your computer (also signed into Chrome)—picking up exactly where you left off.
  • Get smarter suggestions: If you visit a site often on your computer, you’ll also get an autocomplete suggestion for it on your mobile device, so you can spend less time typing.
  • Sync bookmarks: Conveniently access your favorite sites no matter where you are or which device you’re using.

Origin PC's EON17-X: Beast Gaming Laptop For Hardcore Gamers

Hardcore PC gamers have generally played games on desktop PCs as opposed to laptops due to the very high system requirements of today’s top video games. While desktop PCs don’t offer the portability that laptops do, they are commonly more powerful and customizable. Featuring a significant upgrade from its EON17, Origin PC has released the EON17-X laptop that’s built especially for gaming, giving avid gamers a portable machine that is even more powerful than most desktop PCs on the market.

The EON17-X is a certified beast, packing an Intel X79 Chipset with 2nd Generation Intel Hexcore processors and up to 32GB 1333Mhz Corsair Quad Channel memory or up to 16GB 1866MHz Corsair Vengeance Quad Channel memory. The laptop comes with a Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M Graphics Card with ORIGIN Professional Overclocking for the best possible gaming experience. It also sports a customizable backlit keyboard with two lighting zones and seven colors and a 17.3-inch 1080p screen display. 4 hard drives can be added to the unit, allowing up to 3 terabytes of hard disk space. Although it is ideal for gaming, the EON17-X can also be used for other resource-intensive functions such as music production, computer-aided design, and other professional work. Although this all sounds very enticing, its USD$2,800+ price tag will surely be discouraging. Plus, the unit weights over 12 pounds and measures over two inches thick, which is still infinitely more portable than a desktop gaming PC, but not something you would want to carry around.

Nokia's Tablet Version Intended To Embrace Windows 8

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is less guarded than most CEOs in confirming product secrets that the market has already guessed. Taking questions during a round-table session with five South African technology journalists, he is expected to be cagey.

But when he is asked about Nokia’s possible entry into the tablet market, there is none of the expected evasion and refusal to comment. 
Instead, he acknowledges that when you add up Nokia’s embrace of the Windows Phone operating system, plus the fact that it draws on the same user experience being built into the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system, plus the fact that Windows 8 is especially well-suited to tablets, the conclusion is inescapable.

“Microsoft has shown in a couple of venues their plans around Windows 8, the big version of windows,” he pointed out. “What they essentially showed was that the standard user experience and also the convergence of development experience over time is what you see here on the Lumia devices. They call this the metro user experience, this idea that there are tiles that are constantly presenting you with new and useful information and it's a fluid and a live environment.

“That same user experience will be turbocharged on a tablet, on a PC, on an Xbox: that will become the standard user experience across the Microsoft family of platforms. To the benefit of Nokia.”

Clearly, Elop sees no point in beating about the bush. His candour makes a refreshing change from technology sector CEOs who would place such topics off limits. Not only does he welcome it with good humour, but he drops tantalising hints about a timeline, and about such a tablet’s place in the device ecosystem:

“If you fast-forward let’s say a year – we don’t know when Windows 8 will ship – there will be hundreds of millions of people who on a tablet, on a PC, on a gaming platform, in an automobile, wherever, they will be seeing this style of user experience. It will instantly give them the promise of a combined experience across all of the digital parts of someone’s world.

“From our point of view, we knew this when we made the decision to go Windows Phone. We had an appreciation that it wouldn’t be just us alone trying to introduce an entirely different point of view, that there would be a lot of energy and push more broadly. That was something we couldn't say a year ago but now its like, ‘we get it now, its clearly part of a much larger story’.

“When we look at that therefore, the opportunity to have a point of view that spans not just smartphones but also other devices from Nokia is very apparent to us, it is definitely an opportunity for us.”

Elop stresses that Nokia has not announced specific plans in this space, but also does not offer even a hint of denial. On the contrary: “Very clearly we look at that and say there’s an opportunity there.”
Elop is even willing to articulate a reason for a tablet: it is what Nokia’s customers will expect.

“I think our consumers would look at that and say we can imagine Nokia doing some interesting things and not just in the obvious parts. But there’s a lot of digital experience still to go, we’re all in the early stages of this so there’s an opportunity for us for sure.”

The suggestion then, between the lines, is that a Nokia tablet is likely to be ready around the same time that Windows 8 ships. Nokia would clearly be privy to such timings, and will have been working closely with Microsoft to ensure the Windows 8 software integrates tightly with Nokia’s hardware. It may even turn out to be one of the key elements of the Windows 8 launch. The long wait for the release also means Nokia has had the luxury of time spent ensuing the device works flawlessly. But Elop is not drawn further.
“That’s what we’re not announcing today. We just keep highlighting the opportunity. Tablets have come into the mainstream, but that situation is still in the very early stages.

“With what Microsoft is doing as it relates to the user experience, whether it’s on the PC, whether it’s on the tablet, to have a unified experience that says here’s a new point of view for tablets as well, I think that’s really going to change the industry, broaden the opportunities, so we’re very excited about that.”

A final hint at Nokia’s intended embrace of Windows 8 – and therefore of a tablet option – is Elop’s enthusiasm for the platform. It is infectious.

“If you have not seen the Windows 8 experience, take a look on YouTube,” he says. “It will really affect your thinking about how the industry is going to evolve. In terms of the degree that they're changing their point of view and what they’re presenting, this isn’t a minor step; it’s a fundamental shift in their approach to Windows.

“And that will be to our advantage.”

Android Ice Cream Sandwich on Samsung Galaxy SII

We all knew that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich would eventually get rolled out to a great number of Gingerbread-touting smartphones, but it’s always good to get a firm date in place. And that’s exactly what the Samsung Galaxy S II has now apparently received.

The word of the update was let loose by Eldar Murtazin, revealing that the Samsung Galaxy S II will be getting ICS on March 1st. The release, as can be expected with Samsung devices, will come by way of Samsung Kies. We should probably expect the specific carriers to be just a little later to the party, though, as is usually the case.

The TouchWiz UI will still be there and because the S II already has those soft-touch buttons, the on-screen ICS buttons will likely be absent. It’s quite possible that the ICS update will be pushed out to the Galaxy Note within the same kind of timeframe. It’s also possible that the rumored S II Plus will be revealed at MWC with ICS already in tow. Lots of possibilities.

Nokia Lumia 800: A Quick Review

When Nokia released the N9 last year, it repositioned itself as a serious competitor in the smartphone market once more. This had a lot to do with the in-house developed, Linux-based MeeGo operating system. The OS represented a complete shift away from the Symbian operating system that Nokia had used on all its previous smartphone handsets. 

But the MeeGo operating system’s life was very limited. Soon after the launch of the N9, Nokia announced that all future handsets would be based on the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system.

The first of this new generation of phone is the Lumia 800, which runs the Mango or Windows Phone 7.5 OS. But, while the phone uses a completely different OS, the Lumia 800 looks almost identical to the N9.

Aesthetic judgement, differentiation in look and feel
The Lumia 800 looks nearly the same as the N9. It uses the same unibody design, meaning there are no removable batteries or battery flaps, and the shell is finished with curved edges. Unfortunately, it still uses the flimsy flap that covers the mini USB/charging port. 

There are one or two changes though. The most obvious is colour. The Lumia 800 is available in bright pink, blue or black, while the N9 is available only in black. In addition to the Power and volume controls on the right-hand side of the phone, the Lumia 800 also has a dedicated camera button.

If you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, the Lumia 800 weighs 142 grams, making it slightly heavier than the N9, which comes in at 135 grams.

Overall, like the N9, the Lumia 800 looks and feels solid and strikes you as the type of phone that will handle the odd drop – unlike, for example, the iPhone.

Weight and size, ability to slip into a pocket unnoticed
The Lumia 800 uses a 3.7” AMOLED screen, compared to the N9’s 3.9” screen. Why a smaller screen if the phone has the same dimensions? Blame Windows Phone OS: The three virtual control buttons below the Lumia 800’s screen make the difference. It will, however, be hard to notice the actual difference in screen size, even when you have both of them lying next to each other.

The Lumia 800, like the N9, won’t exactly slip into your pocket unnoticed, but it is compact enough to fit there comfortably. Its smooth edges also give the phone a great feeling when you’re holding it, and the bright colours may lead to the phone to being in carried in a hand or being displayed on a coffee table more often than it hiding in a pocket.

The physical dimensions are exactly the same as the Nokia N9, but the Lumia 800 is still a little too heavy for a cutting edge smartphone.

Speed, responsiveness, multi-tasking
The Lumia 800 uses a 1.4Ghz Qualcomm processor, which is coupled with 16GB of internal storage and only 512Mb of RAM. The RAM falls rather short when compared to other smartphones, where the standard is 1GB, but the processor is on a par and makes up for the RAM. The N9 uses 1GB or RAM but uses a slower 1Ghz Cortex A8 CPU. Overall performance was great. Angry Birds launched in no time and birds were soaring through the air glitch-free. More processor-intensive apps ran fine too, even with an arsenal of apps open in the background.

This seamed a bit strange, as I thought that I would eventually exhaust the meagre 512MB of RAM and start getting some warnings about low memory, or at least see a performance drop. But it turns out that Windows Phone 7.5 does not support true multi-tasking. Yes, music and other apps will run in the background but, once you hold down the virtual Back button, you find only a few applications remain in the memory. The others seem to “disappear” from the list, and the only way to get them back is to restart them. I also found that I couldn't manage open applications like I would on Android phones; I could switch from app to app, but had no way to force an application to close.

Even though every task ran effortlessly on the 512MB of RAM in the phone, the limited multitasking ability offered Windows Phone 7.5 is a slight disappointment.

How’s the battery life?
Nokia’s operating system choice has been questionable in the past, but it has always been constant when squeezing the maximum amount of operating time out of the battery – and the Lumia 800 is no different.

The Lumia 800 uses the same 1 450mAh battery as the N9 but, according to Nokia, the Lumia 800 offers 13 hours of talk time, compared to 11 hours on the N9. Although I didn't talk on the Lumia 800 for 13 hours, I used it for taking calls, checking Twitter and Facebook, performed a few Internet searches and played games on it for a full two days before I was warned that I was running low on battery power. Even then, though, the battery management app popped up and asked me if I wanted to tweak the phone to get even more life from the battery.

Once again, Nokia’s battery life – and management – is unrivaled. This feature alone puts the phone in a different league.

Picture, video and browsing quality
Located at the back of the phone is an 8MP Carls Zeiss camera with a dual-LED flash. The camera is able to capture stills at a maximum resolution of 3264X2448 pixels – exactly the same as the Nokia N9. However, the addition of a dedicated camera button really does enhance the picture experience, as taking quick snaps doesn't require taking the phone out of stand-by mode, locating the camera app and then activating it. Simply press the Camera button and snap away.

Camera features include geo-tagging, auto-focus and a range of other features that take normal happy snaps to a new level. Unfortunately, the lack of a pinch-zoom interface was a let-down; clicking on the zoom-in and zoom-out buttons took too much time.

The Lumia 800 lacks a front facing camera, so no video conferencing, unlike the N9.

Videos are displayed in vivid colour and have a great contrast ratio on the AMOLED screen. This, combined with the good battery life even when using video, are a big bonus. 

Quality of audio
At the bottom of the phone is a mono speaker, which is great for speaker calls or listening to the odd song, but there are numerous smartphones with better-made built-in speakers. The 3.5mm headphone jack will offer a far better sound experience, as this is where Dolby’s Mobile Sound Enhancement feature kicks in.

Overall, not the greatest combination of sound features on a phone, but enough to keep most users satisfied.

Range, speed and efficiency of messaging solutions
With the Nokia Lumia 800 using Windows Phone 7.5, most applications are tightly integrated with a Microsoft Live account, much as all Android devices are linked to a Google account. This means, before you can properly start using the included messaging applications like Twitter or Facebook, you need to register or sign in to a Microsoft Live account. That said, the included Twitter and other social media accounts are less than ideal. They are all included in one option labelled “Me”. Clicking on it brings all the feeds together on one screen, but with little differentiation, making it confusing when trying to work out which feed supplied which message. This is especially problematic when replying, not knowing where the post will be shown.

On the other hand, the Microsoft Live account also gives you access to Xbox Live games, a market from where you can buy Xbox Live and other games. It also provides access to the Windows Phone Marketplace, from where you can download 3rd party social media apps and keep the feeds separate.

Speaking of the Windows Phone Marketplace, there is less of an app variety when compared with more mature online stores like the Android Marketplace or Apple App Store. Free versions of commercial apps are in short supply; for example, the full version of Angry Birds costs R24, although a free trial version is available from the Windows Phone Marketplace, whereas the equivalent is free for other platforms.

As the Windows Phone operating system becomes more popular, however, the number of apps available will increase quickly.

But that shouldn't have to be the workaround to make up for the confusing integration of social feeds. The N9 didn't score too favourably here either, but its improved use of the Ovi Store counted in its favor.

How effective are hardware and software controls?
In addition to the four hardware control buttons, the Lumia 800 uses three software buttons located below the screen. The Back button works like a Back button on an Internet browser and, when held down, shows all open applications. 

The Windows button allows for a quick return to the phone’s home screen, no matter what application is open.

The third button is a Search option, which can be accessed from any application. When tapped, it launches the phone’s Internet browser, with Bing as the default search engine.

The addition of the three software buttons makes navigating and operating the phone far easier and less time consuming.

Innovations, unique features
Windows Phone 7.5 offers a user interface that is quite different to anything on Android or iOS. It uses Live tiles, which can be thought of as square widgets (applications that automatically update themselves). The Live tiles are continually changing in accordance with what they represent. For instance, the Calendar Tile changes with the date – nothing new there, but it also displays upcoming appointments. The People Tile displays images of the people “active” in the contacts folder, either on a Gmail or Microsoft Live account. A click on the tile will launch that application and allow for a more in-depth view. 

Unfortunately, besides changing the location of the tile (you can move it up or down, or off the home screen), and changing colours or automatic updating, there is not much else Windows Phone offers in the way of customisation at this stage.

On the plus side – and this is a massive plus - the Lumia 800 includes Windows Office 365, which in turn gives direct access to a SkyDrive account, allowing for files to be saved in the cloud. 

Office 365 opens up an entirely new collaboration world. Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents can be created, viewed and edited directly on the Lumia 800, with the changes or additions being automatically updated and ready for any other colleagues to review from their Windows Office 365 account. This knocks flat any equivalent ion the iOS.

Although the new interface does seem a bit confusing at first, it won’t take long to figure out how to operate it properly. The settings, application management and phone customisation options are all easy to locate. 

The addition Windows Office 365, with its seamless integration and collaboration tools, are a huge bonus and will benefit any organization with more than one employee.

Lumia 800 works well, is superbly designed and offers a new, yet uncomplicated user interface. Nokia has come a long way from its archaic Symbian operating system, and the Windows Phone 7.5 is in some cases even easier to use than the Nokia N9 running MeeGo. 

In the end, the combination of battery life, Office 365 and competitive pricing makes this a killer phone.

Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Review

In hindsight, the previous Galaxy Y is a bestseller mainly because of its ultra-affordable price tag. The next generation Galaxy Y Duos has a more expensive price point; but its main selling proposition is that it is the first Samsung Android smartphone to have dual-SIM capabilities. In a summary, these are the strengths and limitations of the new model --

  • Solid build quality
  • Impressive battery life
  • Responsiveness
  • Excellent phone call reception
  • Ease of transitioning from 1 SIM to another
  • Pinch to Zoom Enabled
  • Value for money

  • Screen Resolution
  • Camera
  • No Camera Flash
  • No Adobe Flash
  • Design and Build Quality

The full touch screen smartphone has an exterior construction that uses a solid metal frame surrounding the front and has rounded corners. It fits comfortably in one’s hand. The detachable shiny plastic back cover encloses the battery, SIM card slots and Micro SD.

The Samsung Galaxy Y Duos features a slightly larger screen size (3.14 inches) compared to its predecessor, Samsung Galaxy Y (3.0 inches) although with a lower screen resolution, 127ppi to 133ppi respectively. 

User Interface and Functionality
The Samsung Galaxy Y Duos uses the standard Touchwiz UI overlay on Android version 2.3.6 Gingerbread. It is an easy-to-learn Android 'experience', really. The home screen is navigated using a side-swiping gesture. the scrolling and transitions to be surprisingly smooth, considering that this is an entry-level Android. The phone also supports multi-touch gestures when navigating through the panels. 

The onscreen keys of the device are moderately responsive. Texting on the Galaxy Y Duos in the landscape orientation is highly recommended to be able to use the larger QWERTY keys. 

Dual SIM capability
Switching from one SIM to another for calling and texting is quick and easy; It is just a 2 step procedure. First, swipe the top portion of the screen downwards to access the drop down menu. Second, from the menu, select the SIM card (SIM 1 or SIM 2) you are going to use. Easy as that. One will also find that calls or texts are labelled as 1 or 2 accordingly so the user would not be confused. 

Phonecall Reception
The Galaxy Y Duos is surprisingly excellent for phone calls. The voice from the other line sounded clear and audible. The speaker on the other end has loud and clear voice output. 

Internet Browsing
Internet browsing on the Galaxy Y Duos is satisfactory. When using a stable internet connection, the phone loads websites quickly. The phone doesn’t support Adobe Flash, but fortunately, accessing an embedded Youtube video on a website redirects me to the mobile version of Youtube. One good feature of the phone is the ability to pinch-to-zoom while using the browser. One would find it especially useful because the unit is only equipped with a low-resolution screen.

Apps and Games
The user of the Galaxy Y Duos can be assured of smooth gameplay on the most popular mobile games such as Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Drag Racing, etc. 

The phone uses the standard Samsung Music Player, which categorizes the music into Artists, Albums, Songs, and Playslists. The phone has decent speaker loudness and clarity. 

The camera is one department where Samsung Galaxy Y Duos can be deemed underwhelming, which is understandable considering that this is an entry level smartphone. The unit is only equipped with a 3.15MP camera and does not have an LED flash. The colors are also not vibrant. On the plus side, the camera features a fast shutter speed, allowing the user to shoot quick snapshots.  
Shooting videos is quite decent with its camera. Although the videos lack detail and vibrancy, the video output does not have many stutters. The Galaxy Y Duos captures QVGA video at 24 fps. 

Battery Life
The Galaxy Y Duos presents an impressive battery life. The unit lasted one day and a half with moderate use. That’s approximately using the phone for calls and texts the entire day, and about 1.5 hours for internet browsing and social networking.

Although the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos is more expensive than the original, it is well worth the price.  The Samsung Galaxy Y Duos does not intend to compete with the ultra-budget phone category where the Galaxy Y obviously reigns, but rather targets a different market profile: the dual-SIM users who want to upgrade to the Samsung Android experience.

This is the first dual-SIM Samsung Android phone. Although there are other dual-SIM brands that are slightly cheaper, the Samsung Galaxy Y Duos features a better build quality, faster performance and ease of use. 

Sony PS Vita: Hard-Core Gamers' Best Handheld Console

Sony has not yet released a new PlayStation console as a successor to the PS3, but they have another addition to their PlayStation Portable legacy with the PS Vita. The original PSP has evolved over the years with revamped versions mostly focusing on size updates including the PSP-1000, 2000, and 3000, as well as the PSP Go, which added a sliding-case design further shrinking the device. The Sony PS Vita adds a bunch of new features that will surely be loved by all kinds of gamers.

The PS Vita was released in Japan and parts of Asialast December 2011, but it will not reach Europe and North America until later this month. Firstly, let’s take a quick look at its specs. The new handheld runs on an ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor with 512 MB of system memory and a 4 core SGX543MP4+ graphics processing unit with LiveArea software for its main user interface. It includes a 5-inch OLED multi-touch capacitive touchscreen, two analog sticks, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support. In addition to this, it also features a rear touch pad, two cameras (front and rear), stereo speakers, a microphone, a Sixaxis motion sensing system, a three-axis electronic compass, and built-in GPS only for the 3G version.

The PS Vita is truly the handheld for hard-core gamers. It finally comes with a second analog stick, which I think is long overdue, and it also supports all previous PSP games so compatibility is not an issue. Supposedly, the graphics on this thing are also even better than before with HD resolution, while its faster processor gives gamers the ability to play PS2 titles on-the-go. Unlike its predecessors, the PS Vita will also support both digital download games and physical media ones, while its new touch screen, Sixaxis motion sensor, and microphone will allow support for more types of games and programs.

Sony has announced that the PS Vita will sell for USD$ 249 (approximately Php 10,500) for the Wi-Fi model and USD $299 (approximately Php 12,600) for the 3G version.

Nokia's Official Annoucement About Lumia 800 Phone White Edition

Nokia announced today that the Nokia Lumia 800 will be available in white, beginning later this month.

Nokia Lumia 800 in white With Windows ® Phone 7.5 software on board, the white Nokia Lumia 800 features head-turning design and the best social and Internet performance, with one-touch social network access, easy grouping of contacts, integrated communication threads and Internet Explorer 9. It features a 3.7-inch AMOLED ClearBlack curved display blending seamlessly into the reduced body design, and a 1.4 GHz processor with hardware acceleration and a graphics processor. The Lumia 800 contains an instant-share camera experience based on leading Carl Zeiss optics, HD video playback, 16GB of internal user memory and free SkyDrive storage for storing images and music.

Lumia smartphones include signature Nokia experiences optimized for Windows Phone, including Nokia Drive, which delivers a full-fledged personal navigation device (PND) with free, turn-by-turn navigation and dedicated in-car-user-interface; and Nokia Music introducing MixRadio*, a free mobile music-streaming application that delivers hundreds of channels of locally-relevant music. Windows Marketplace also gives Lumia users more than 55 000 apps to choose from.

“Since we began selling it late last year, the Nokia Lumia 800 has received rave reviews around the world,” said Ilari Nurmi, Vice President of Product Marketing, Nokia. “Now in white, the Lumia 800 brings with it an even more premium look and feel with its gloss finish, but packed with power and performance underneath its sleek body.”

Galaxy Tab 10.1 And Galaxy S Aviator: First LTE Devices Introduced By US Cellular

US Cellular has finally joined the 4G LTE Bandwagon, launching its own service. While many of us have been expecting this for a while, it was a bit unclear which 4G LTE phones would be the first to hit the company’s new network.

The suspense is over, it seems that it will be the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G LTE tablet next month, and shortly after the Samsung Galaxy S Aviator 4G LTE smartphone.

We all know of the Galaxy Tab by this point and expect little surprises with the US Cellular version, but the Aviator is something new, or so it seems. At first glance it strongly resembles the Droid Charge. What we do know is that it will offer a 4.3-inch WVGA super AMOLED Plus display, run Android 2.3.6, have a 8MP rear camera, a front-facing camera, and an HDMI port.

For now this is all we know, but go ahead and take a look at the US Cellular press release below to hear it straight from the horses mouth.

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