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A Closer Look at Microsoft Surface Tablet

The Microsoft Surface is a Windows 8 tablet with integrated stand and keyboard running on both ARM and Intel systems. Here's our initial Microsoft Surface Tablet review.

Microsoft's introduction of its Surface tablet engendered buzz like no other we've seen from Microsoft. The big question is, does it stand up to the hype? The answer, succinctly, is yes. 

After the event, attendees got a brief audience with the Surface (the second Microsoft product to get that name; prior to today, "Surface" referred to Microsoft's table-top touchscreen computer experience).

For starters, Microsoft truly has paid close attention to the details. This tablet is one of the few with a full-sized USB port--and thank goodness for that. The Windows RT version of Surface has USB 2.0, with USB 3.0 on the Windows 8 Professional version. (The Pro version can use USB 3.0 because the core logic chipset of Intel's Ivy Bridge chips support the standard, according to a Microsoft spokesman.)

The Surface tablet's integrated kickstand is sheer brilliance, and it felt sturdily designed when I lifted it up and held the prototype tablet by its kickstand. I did that almost automatically, without thinking about potential consequences, and then realized that I had nothing to fear; the kickstand felt as stable as bedrock.

The Microsoft Surface tablet's case felt silky and exceptionally solid, even on these still-early prototypes. (The Windows RT Surface we saw here won't be out until Autumn, at Windows 8's launch; the Pro version will ship three months later, meaning we'll hear about those at CES 2013.) The exterior magnesium alloy surface is smooth to the touch, and finely finished. And while I wish the tablet were slightly slimmer, the angled edges made it fairly comfortable to hold. The Surface felt extremely well-balanced when I held the tablet in one hand or both. It actually didn't feel as heavy as its listed weight (676g for the RT version, 903g for the Pro version).

Microsoft Surface tablet: From a distance

The demo units on show here in Los Angeles were running Windows RT, and had a 1080p quality display. (Microsoft's spec sheet doesn't list an exact resolution.) When I had my all-too-brief moment to handle the tablet, that unit wasn't turned on. Microsoft didn't let us too close to the ones that were on and showing demos on-screen, so I didn't see book-size text up close. That makes it impossible to say how it compares side-by-side with the third-generation Apple iPad's Retina display, or the 1920-by-1200 pixel display on the upcoming Acer Iconia Tab A700. What I saw from a distance impressed me, though, and left me eager to see more.

The benefits of the display's optical bonding were obvious. Bonding is still an expensive process, which is why we don't see it as often as I would like on tablets. Its inclusion on the Surface, frankly, makes me worry that these tablets may cost significantly more than other mainstream models. But there's no questioning the value of optical bonding – it makes text more clear, minimizes glare and improves contrast. And the Surface running Windows RT showcased those benefits well, even under the glarey spotlights at the event.

Microsoft Surface tablet: Cover up

The Type Cover and Touch Cover are evolved beyond the keyboard docks on tablets like Asus' Transformer series. There, the dock is a physical component that turns the tablet into a netbook-like clamshell. The keyboard in Microsoft's innovative "smart" covers is the tablet keyboard you've always dreamed of: versatile, lightweight, functional, and a true aid to your productivity.

The Type Cover has mechanical keys and a multitouch clickpad. My touch-typist fingers flew over the keys as efficiently as if I were typing on my laptop. The Touch Cover comes in bright and cheerful colours as well as the more staid black, and has flat, pressure-sensitive keys that can detect when you're typing; if you flip the cover around to the back, the built-in accelerometer can sense this and will turn off the keyboard (nifty trick). I couldn't try a Touch Cover hooked up to a unit, but I'll be interested to see how it performs when it comes out. Both options turned the Surface tablet into an efficient and compact device.

We didn't hear anything about whether the keyboard covers draw more power from the tablet, but presumably they do. The Touch Cover is thin, just 3mm, and snaps into place with a sturdy clink thanks to magnetics and components aligning together to keep it in place. (The cover feels more secure than Apple's Smart Cover, which can easily slip-slide out-of-place.)

Dutch Court Orders Apple to Pay Patent Damages to Samsung

Apple has been ordered to pay damages to rival Samsung Electronics by a court in the Netherlands.

The court said that Apple had infringed a patent held by Samsung relating to the way phones and tablet PCs connect to the internet.

The court did not specify any amount, but the damages will be calculated based on sales of Apple's iPhone and iPad in the Netherlands.

The two firms are involved in a legal battle in various countries.

"Samsung welcomes the court's ruling, which reaffirmed Apple's free-riding of our technological innovation," the South Korean manufacturer said in an emailed statement to the BBC.

"In accordance with the ruling, we will seek adequate compensation for the damages Apple and its products have caused."

Samsung had claimed that Apple had infringed four of its patents. However, the Dutch court said that only one of those had been breached.

'Amicable business solution'
Apple and Samsung are two of the biggest manufacturers of smartphones and tablet PCs in the world.

However, the two firms have been involved in dozens of patent cases and disputes relating to designs of their respective products.

Analysts said that with so many cases being fought by the two firms in different countries, neither of the parties may emerge as the overall winner.

"Both these companies need to understand that some cases will be won by Samsung and some by Apple," Manoj Menon, Managing Director of the consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan, told the BBC.

"This will put an increased pressure on both parties to figure out an amicable business solution, rather than prolong these battles."

Last month, a judge in the US ordered the chief executives of both the firms to meet to try to settle their legal differences.

But the talks did not lead to any agreement and Apple has since sought a ban on sales of one of Samsung's tablet computers and the latest range of its Galaxy smartphones.

Delaying tactic?
Apple had enjoyed an early lead in the smartphone and tablet PC market with the launch of its iPhone and iPad devices.

However, Samsung has been steadily increasing its market share in the sector with the introduction of new gadgets.

Analysts said that given the increased competition, the two firms had been using the legal battles as a way to stop each other from increasing their market shares.

"Given that they are number one and two in the market right now, they are going to use any possible tool to slow down each other and patents could be one of those tools," said Melissa Chau of IDC Asia Pacific.

However, she said that given the amount of time, money and energy that the two firms have spent on fighting these cases, they were likely to find a solution in the long run.

"In the past, when we look at how these things have evolved, they get settled in due course of time and businesses move on."


Microsoft Announces The Microsoft Surface Tablet

Microsoft has unveiled Surface - its own-brand family of tablets.

The touchscreen computers will be powered by its upcoming Windows 8 system and contain a choice of an Intel or ARM-based processor.

It allows the firm to challenge Apple's bestselling iPad with a device that can run standard applications such as its own Office programs and Photoshop.

But it puts Microsoft in competition with other manufacturers planning to release tablets designed for Windows 8.

The company's chief executive, Steve Ballmer, said he had wanted to give the software "its own companion hardware".

The devices have 10.6 inch (26.9cm) displays, built-in kickstands and are housed in magnesium cases - which the company described as the first of their kind.

The ARM-based tablets are 9.3mm (0.4 inches) thick - slightly less than the iPad - and run the Windows RT version of the new system. The Verge reported that the chipset will be built by Nvidia. Third-party developers must rewrite programs from scratch to run on the system's Metro interface to work on these devices.

The versions using Intel's x86 technology run Windows 8 Pro and are 13.5mm (0.5 inches) thick. These can run Metro and an updated version of the "classic" desktop meaning they can use software designed for earlier editions of Windows, although some programs will need to be updated to be compatible.

The specifications mean the Surface tablets have bigger screens than the iPad but are heavier.

Pen input
A variety of accompanying covers can be attached using built-in magnets. They double as keyboards with trackpads. One version is flat while the other offers keys that can be depressed.

The devices are also designed to work with a pen accessory using what the firm dubbed "digital ink". When the stylus is held close to the screen of the tablet it ignores touch-input from the users' hands and "samples" the ink at 600dpi (dots per inch).

The ARM-based version will be available with either 32GB (gigabytes) or 64GB of storage. Microsoft said they would be priced at a similar rate to other tablets using the same type of processor built by other firms.

It added that the Intel-based versions would be offered with either 64GB or 128GB of storage and would have price tags comparable to ultrabook laptops.

Different chipsets
One tech analyst told the BBC that other hardware makers were likely to feel aggrieved by the news.

"Microsoft can offer a competitive price for these specifications as it doesn't need to pay itself a licence for the Windows 8 software which other manufacturers will have to do, and that might make its PC and tablet-making partners unhappy," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at the technology consultants Gartner.

She added that the firm appeared to have focused on a specific part of the market which wanted a more powerful device than the iPad.

"They seem to be be targeting a professional audience," she said.

"So they are going head-to-head with Apple within the corporate sector. Price will be key - these devices won't be at the bottom end of the market. They will probably let other manufacturers fight over that space."

By contrast the tech research firm Forrester said it thought the focus for ARM-based Surface tablets would be consumers, rather than the enterprise sector.

But one of its analysts warned there was a risk customers would shy away if they found it confusing distinguishing between the two types of Windows 8 experience. This will be the first time Microsoft will offer a version of its PC system designed for chips based on ARM's architecture.

ARM's ambitions
Despite the potential for confusion, British chip designer ARM said it was "excited" by the news.

The firm's designs have already proved popular with smartphone makers, but Microsoft's support for its technology in Windows 8 offers it the potential to expand into a market dominated until now by Intel and AMD.

"This represents a significant milestone in Microsoft's journey to expand the support of the Windows operating system and embrace the ARM architecture," said Lance Howarth, the firm's vice president of marketing.

"With the Surface for Windows RT announcement we are delighted to see yet another example of this partnership in action which follows on from various Windows RT devices demonstrated at Taiwan's Computex show recently."

Intel said it was also "pleased" about Microsoft's move.

"Intel believes in and supports an open and healthy ecosystem that delivers a broad scale of innovation and choice in solutions and user experiences," a statement said.

"We also believe Windows 8 on Intel architecture will deliver the most complete experience with the best performance and compatibility across all computing platforms."

Flame Malware with 'Suicide Code'

The creators of the Flame malware have sent a "suicide" command that removes it from some infected computers.
Security firm Symantec caught the command using booby-trapped computers set up to watch Flame's actions.

Flame came to light after the UN's telecoms body asked for help with identifying a virus found stealing data from many PCs in the Middle East.

New analysis of Flame reveals how sophisticated the program is and gives hints about who created it.

Clean machine
Like many other security firms Symantec has kept an eye on Flame using so-called "honeypot" computers that report what happens when they are infected with a malicious program.

Described as a very sophisticated cyber-attack, Flame targeted countries such as Iran and Israel and sought to steal large amounts of sensitive data.

Earlier this week Symantec noticed that some Flame command and control (C&C) computers sent an urgent command to the infected PCs they were overseeing.

Flame's creators do not have access to all their C&C computers as security firms have won control of some of them.

The "suicide" command was "designed to completely remove Flame from the compromised computer", said Symantec.

The command located every Flame file sitting on a PC, removed it and then overwrote memory locations with gibberish to thwart forensic examination.

"It tries to leave no traces of the infection behind," wrote the firm on its blog.

Analysis of the clean-up routine suggested it was written in early May, said Symantec.

Crypto crash
At the same time, analysis of the inner workings of Flame reveal just how sophisticated it is.

According to cryptographic experts, Flame is the first malicious program to use an obscure cryptographic technique known as "prefix collision attack". This allowed the virus to fake digital credentials that had helped it to spread.

The exact method of carrying out such an attack was only demonstrated in 2008 and the creators of Flame came up with their own variant.

"The design of this new variant required world-class cryptanalysis," said cryptoexpert Marc Stevens from the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam in a statement.

The finding gives support to claims that Flame must have been built by a nation state rather than cybercriminals because of the amount of time, effort and resources that must have been put into its creation. It is not yet clear which nation created the program.

Apple Announced MacBook Pro with Retina Display

At this year's Worldwide developer congress, Apple unveiled a new 15" MacBook featuring a Retina display.

Apple today unveiled an all new 15-inch MacBook Pro featuring a stunning Retina display, all flash storage and quad-core processors in a radically thin and light design. Measuring a mere 0.71 inches and weighing only 4.46 pounds, the completely redesigned MacBook Pro sets a new standard in performance and portability for pro users.

“The MacBook Pro with Retina display pushes the limits of performance and portability like no other notebook,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With a gorgeous Retina display, all flash architecture and a radically thin and light design, the new MacBook Pro is the most advanced Mac we have ever built.”

The new MacBook Pro Retina display is the world’s highest resolution notebook display with over 5 million pixels, 3 million more than an HD television. At 220 pixels-per-inch, the Retina display’s pixel density is so high the human eye cannot distinguish individual pixels from a normal viewing distance, so text and graphics look incredibly sharp. The Retina display uses IPS technology for a 178-degree wide viewing angle, and has 75 percent less reflection and 29 percent higher contrast than the previous generation.

Featuring a precision engineered aluminium unibody design and an all flash storage architecture, the all new MacBook Pro is the lightest MacBook Pro ever and nearly as thin as a MacBook Air. Flash storage that is up to four times faster than traditional notebook hard drives enables the all new MacBook Pro to play four simultaneous streams of uncompressed 1080p HD video from internal storage.* The flash storage architecture also delivers improved reliability, instant-on responsiveness and 30 days of standby time.

The MacBook Pro with Retina display features the latest Intel Core i7 quad-core processors up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.7 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M discrete graphics, up to 16GB of faster 1600 MHz RAM and flash storage up to 768GB. Two Thunderbolt and two USB 3.0 ports allow pro users to connect to multiple displays and high performance devices, and a new HDMI port offers quick connectivity to HDTVs.

The MacBook Pro battery delivers up to 7 hours of wireless productivity, and uses advanced chemistry and Adaptive Charging technology to provide up to 1,000 recharges.** The MacBook Pro also features a FaceTime HD camera, glass Multi-Touch trackpad, full-size backlit keyboard, dual microphones, enhanced speakers, 3-stream 802.11n Wi-Fi and a thinner MagSafe 2 power port.

OS X Lion, iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes and other Apple apps including Aperture and Final Cut Pro X have been updated to take full advantage of the new MacBook Pro with Retina display. The updated Aperture 3.3 also includes revolutionary new image adjustment features and now supports a unified photo library so photographers can move seamlessly between iPhoto and Aperture.

The all new MacBook Pro ships with OS X Lion. Starting today, customers who purchase a Mac are eligible for a free copy of OS X Mountain Lion when it becomes available. Mountain Lion introduces innovative features including the all new Messages app, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing, AirPlay Mirroring, Game Center and the enhanced security of Gatekeeper. With iCloud built into the foundation of OS X, Mountain Lion makes it easier than ever to keep your content up to date across all your devices.

Pricing & Availability 
The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available through the Apple Online Store (, Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorised Resellers. The 15-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage starting at $2,199 (US); and with a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz, 8GB of memory and 512GB of flash storage starting at $2,799 (US). Configure-to-order options include faster quad-core processors up to 2.7 GHz, up to 16GB of memory and flash storage up to 768GB.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Will Not Be Available in US Market

Excited shoppers weren't the only ones buying Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S III hands-on, when it went on sale in the U.K. last month. Apparently Apple bought one too, and wasn't too happy about what it found in the box.

In a new court filing, picked up by intellectual property-tracking blog FOSS Patents, Apple says the S3 infringes on two of its patents, both related to software features. As a result, the company wants to keep it from being sold in the U.S.

"Because the Galaxy S III contains two of the exact infringing features already at issue with respect to the Galaxy Nexus, the S III is not more than colorably different from the Galaxy Nexus," Apple wrote in the motion, which was filed yesterday.

The two patents in question are U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604 and No. 5,946,647. The '604 patent covers "unified search," while the '647 patent covers "links for structures."

The S3 is due to launch on five U.S. carriers beginning June 21. As the name suggests, it's the third major iteration in the Galaxy S series, which runs Google's Android OS. That line, along with a number of other Samsung devices, was targeted in a patent infringement suit filed by Apple last April, accusing the company of making "slavish" copies of its iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

"Samsung believes Apple's request is without merit. We will vigorously oppose the request and demonstrate to the court that the Galaxy S III is innovative and distinctive," a Samsung spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. "We would also like to assure consumers that the U.S. launch and sales of the Galaxy S III will proceed as planned. The Galaxy S III has already been highly received in markets where it has been introduced. Samsung looks forward to bringing the Galaxy S III to the U.S., and we believe that Apple's actions would only serve to disrupt consumers' access to the latest innovative mobile technology.

Meanwhile, an Apple spokesperson told CNET in an e-mailed statement today, "It's no coincidence that Samsung's latest products look a lot like the iPhone and iPad, from the shape of the hardware to the user interface and even the packaging, This kind of blatant copying is wrong, and we need to protect Apple's intellectual property when companies steal our ideas."

The spat is just a part of a larger battle between the two companies, and the latest in an effort by Apple to keep certain Samsung products from being sold. The CEOs and legal counsels from both companies met to discuss settlements last month, however no agreements were reached.

A Closer Look at Samsung Galaxy SIII

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is the most anticipated Android Smartphone ever. The Galaxy S III is the device that is finally set to give the iPhone a really tough run for its money. Here's our Samsung Galaxy S3 review.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Design

The design of the Samsung Galaxy S3 is similar to its predecessor but different at the same time. For starters the phone is much more rounded with smooth flowing lines and rounded corners and edges, somewhat like the Galaxy Nexus. It looks much sleeker than the Galaxy S2.

Samsung has kept the physical home button which is saddled by two touch sensitive counterparts for Back and Menu. The Home button is a too thin and narrow and we'd much rather a full set of touch buttons but you can't have everything.

One design flaw is the lack of a Recent Apps button to access the multi-tasking feature of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Instead you have to hold the home button down, not something we found intuitive at all.

The buttons and ports are spread out around the handset with Power on the right, Volume on left, microUSB on the bottom and the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. The buttons are easy enough to reach and have a nice action, although we would prefer the Volume rocker to be a little larger.

Samsung said the shape is 'inspired by nature'- what matters more is the size, weight and feel. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is very thin and light for such a large phone at just 8.6mm and 133g. It is comfortable to hold, partly because Samsung has reduced the bezel size keeping the dimensions down as much as possible.

The smartphone is almost exactly the same size as the HTC One X at 71 x 137 mm. It’s a really big phone and though it’s comfortable to hold it is sometimes difficult to use, having to stretch across the large screen with one hand simply due to its size. This is coming from a user with quite large hands so we fear that for a lot of users the device will be just too big for day-to-day usage.

The Galaxy S3 handset is available in pebble blue and marble white. The former has a nice brushed finish while the latter a glossy sheen. Both look nice but we prefer the blue option.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Build quality

We can't help but feel the Galaxy S3 has too much of a plasticy feel, mainly brought about by its flimsy removable rear cover which effectively peels away from the back. This is a let-down and not something we want to see from such a 'premium' smartphone with such a high price tag.

Despite the overwhelming use of plastic, the Galaxy S3 feels well made. The thin metal rim running around the edge gives the phone good strength, offering only a small amount of flex when put under strain. The one-piece glass front feels especially nice so ignoring the rear cover it's a good effort.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Hardware

As expected the Galaxy S3 is powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 4 Quad processor, something we actually knew before the launch event. It is a 32nm chip based on the ARM Cortex A9 quad-core architecture and has a clock speed of 1.4GHz. 

Strangely Samsung hasn't specified the amount of RAM but our benchmarking app tells us that it has 780MB which the specification sheet would probably tout as 1GB.

Samsung has managed to achieve the kind of smooth performance only reached by Apple's iPhone. It's the kind of situation where we struggled to make the Galaxy S3, er, struggle.

For example, the phone can play video content in a pop-out window while you do other tasks. If you want proof of performance then there you have it. Other demanding tasks such as scrolling and zooming on a desktop version of website just happen with no lag; the processor puts up no fuss whatsoever.

The biggest lag we found was the short delay between pressing the power button to wake the handset up and the screen coming to life. But even then the delay was minor.

In terms of internal storage, the Galaxy S3 matches the iPhone 4S and has 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacity options. Much to our delight it also has a microSD card slot for expansion of up to a further 64GB. This choice is a big win in our opinion.

As mentioned earlier the Galaxy S3 is a pretty big smartphone. This is mainly down to its 4.8-inch Super AMOLED screen which has an HD resolution of 720 x 1280.

The Galaxy S3 screen is stunning and comparable in quality to the one found on the HTC One X. It has a high pixel density of 306ppi where individual pixels are not distinguishable offering astonishing levels of detail. Viewing angles are very good; we found reflections in the screen more of a problem.

The Super AMOLED technology means colours a bright and punchy while blacks are very, well, black. It's partly what makes the screen have such an impact on the eyes but users wanting a more natural look will probably find the screen a bit garish.

Wireless charging is a stand out feature which is not only super cool but very practical too.

Other connectivity in the Galaxy S3 includes the standard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and microUSB as well as near-field communications (NFC) technology and support for the digital living network alliance (DLNA) standard.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Camera

Like most modern smartphones the Galaxy S3 comes with dual cameras. The rear facing one is rated at 8Mp and has an LED flash while the front camera is a 1.9Mp shooter which can record HD video at 30fps.

Since receiving our sample of the Galaxy S3 we've taken a handful of pictures so we'll update this section as we do more testing.

We found the results to be good but we haven't been blown away by the quality. Most pictures were sharp and colours were suitably saturated. One thing the camera coped well with was pictures in a dimly lit room. 

The camera app launches quickly and is easy to use. It also has various handy features including HDR, a burst mode which can shoot up to 20 images and Best Shot which takes eight photos and chooses the best one.

Samsung says it has zero shutter lag, which we found to be mostly the case. A feature called social tag allows you to link people in a photo to social networks like Facebook.

We found the front facing camera produced a brilliantly clear and detailed image with only faint hints of graining – a rare thing for a smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Software

There are no prizes for guessing that the Galaxy S3 is running on Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. To be precise, version 4.0.4 coupled with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface overlay.

The new improved version of TouchWiz is much better than previous versions with a sleeker and more modern look. There is a maximum of seven home screens which you can cycle through continuously. As usual with Android smartphones you can customise the interface with different widgets, wallpapers and app shortcuts.

At the bottom of the screen is an app tray with four slots for your most used apps and a shortcut to the Apps Menu. We like the notification bar which gives easy access to various settings such as Wi-Fi, Volume, Power Saving mode, Music player controls and, obviously, notifications.

Overall the user interface is just like Android smartphones from rival vendors. However, Samsung has gone all out with extra software features and apps to make the Galaxy S3 stand out from the crowd.

S Voice

One of the most prominent is S Voice, Samsung's voice recognition software similar to Apple's Siri. For starters you can use it to unlock the Galaxy S3 phone by saying something like "Hi Galaxy". More importantly you can ask S Voice to carry out tasks like get a weather forecast, send a text message, set a reminder or play music.

The software worked well most of the time but as we feared there were times when it didn't understand what we said. We also had to wait for a long time while the dialogue was processed. It can tell you where you are by opening Google Maps but couldn't tell direct us to the nearest post office, for example.
There's more bad news here because S Voice told us it was unable to send an email and we found the UK voice to be quite annoying. Generally Siri is a much more polished and usable experience.

Motion Controls

Samsung has added a number of motion activated controls - some we found gimmicky and some were actually useful.

Smart Stay is Samsung's eye tracking feature which ensures the screen does not turn off as long as you are looking at it.

Direct Call allows you to instantly call the contact you are browsing or sending a text message to by lifting the Galaxy S3 phone to your ear. Smart Alert tells you if you have any missed calls of messages when you pick you phone up. Both are handy features for most smartphone users.

Another couple of tricks that we liked are turning the phone over or covering it with the palm of your hand to mute sounds or pause music and double tapping the top of the handset to go to the top of a list you're viewing.

There are a couple of weird and pointless ones like panning the phone to move around a picture you've zoomed in on or moving an app shortcut between home screens.

We like all the neat additions which largely improve the Galaxy S3's usability, even if some are simply needless.


Our Vodafone handset came with a few extra apps but ignoring these, the Galaxy S3 doesn't come pre-loaded with too many apps. This is a good thing and there is still plenty of interesting apps to keep you busy and entertained.

AllShare Play as an app which lets you share content between multiple devices over the internet and via AllShare Cast can you put whatever is on your Galaxy S3 screen on a larger display like a TV, similar to Apple's AirPlay.

For music lovers there is Samsung's Music Hub which has been updated recently. The new service is currently exclusive to Galaxy S3 owners and allows unlimited streaming of music, a store and radio stations for £9.99 per month.

Samsung Galaxy S3: Battery

We've not spent long enough with the Galaxy S3 to give you a full run down on how much battery life the phone offers. Samsung has fitted the phone with a whopping 7.9Wh battery promising rival beating battery life.

To give you a brief idea of its performance we've been using the Galaxy S3 almost constantly during the working day, taking photos and video of the handset and using it for testing to write this review. It's nearing the end of the work day and the device still has an impressive 38 percent of its juice left, most smartphones would have conked out by now with the same amount of usage.

Samsung Galaxy S3 Specs

3G (HSPA+ 21Mbps)
4G (Dependant on market)

4.8" HD Super AMOLED (1280x720)

Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

Main: 8mp Auto Focus with flash, zero shutter lag and BSI
Front: 1.9mp HD recording @30fps with flash, zero shutter lag and BSI
Video: Full HD (1080p) Recording and Playback

Wi-Fi- a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi HT40, GPS/GLONASS, NFC, BT4.0(LE)

Internal storage: 
16GB / 32GB / 64GB

External memory:
microSD Slot (SDXC 64GB exFAT Support)

136.6 x 70.6 x 8.6mm, 133g

Battery capacity: 
2,100 mAh

Subject to further testing, the Galaxy S3 has turned out to be an excellent smartphone. It offers a good design and build quality. Samsung has put together an impressive set of hardware resulting in silky smooth performance and extensive software features.

New Nintendo Wii UPad Revealed

Nintendo's new Wii U console will embrace social networking, according to a video presentation released ahead of the E3 video games conference. 

The machine will promote the Miiverse in which users can see what others are playing, share self-created game content and swap gaming tips.

The firm said members would eventually be able to connect to the network via its 3DS handheld, PCs and smartphones.

The Japanese firm posted its first annual loss in April.

Its share price has nearly halved since it first announced the Wii U last year after investors expressed doubts about the potential of the next-generation device. 

The Wii U Game Pad, held by Satoru Iwata, is larger than previous controllers.

The revelations, ahead of the Los Angeles trade show, may be designed to create a new buzz about the product ahead of a more detailed press conference on Tuesday. 

Zombie tips
The presentation, by the firm's global president Satoru Iwata, said that when users turned on their console it would show animated avatars on the television screen flocking towards the most popular games at that time.

However, the focus of the network is on a smaller touchscreen on the Wii U Game Pad.

This can be used to send typed or handwritten messages to other Miiverse members as well as drawings.

A video trailer showed one player using the device to quiz other gamers about how to kill a zombie. The actor then placed the handset next to his television to launch a video chat with another user.

"We believe it can solve the issue of 'alone together'," said Mr Iwata.

"We believe it enables the sharing of more smiles, more laughs and more empathy."

However, Patrick Garratt, founder of gaming website VG247, expressed reservations.

"The social aspects in the presentation show Nintendo realises people now need to be constantly connected through their digital devices, but my concern is that the entire system appears to be closed," he said.

"Without a wholesale embrace of Twitter and Facebook I think you have to ask serious questions about how well Nintendo understands the social networking space."

The presentation also showed changes made to the game pad from the version displayed last year including redesigned thumbsitck controllers, extra buttons and a card slot to add data to the device.

Cyborg swordfights
Video games publisher Konami also opted to release a pre-show announcement video.

It included trailers for the firm's upcoming Metal Gear Rising Revengeance - an action title featuring a cyborg ninja due out "early 2013" - and the latest in its vampire series, Castlevania: Lord of Shadows 2. 

The coming days will bring a plethora of announcements from other firms at the trade show. Close to 200 are hosting exhibits.

Keynote presentations from Microsoft and Sony will be the focus of the event's first day.

Both companies have said they would not debut their next-generation consoles at this year's event. So the focus will instead be on how they will attempt to maintain interest in the seven-year-old Xbox 360 and six-year-old Playstation 3.

Streaming software
News site has reported that Microsoft's announcement might include a new service called Xbox Smart Glass.

It said the product would allow users to control their console remotely via devices running Windows, Windows Phone, Android and iOS systems.

It added that the software would also work the other way, allowing consoles to screen content streamed to them by third-party devices.

Microsoft's presentation is also likely to focus on its Kinect motion and voice recognition sensor, possibly including footage from a recently announced Harry Potter title.

Cloud gaming
There has been speculation that Sony will announce a tie-up or even a takeover of a cloud gaming company. This could allow Playstation owners to continue playing games when they do not have access to their consoles by streaming titles off remote servers to other types of devices.

Trade magazine MCV has reported a deal could involve one of two California-based companies: OnLive or Gaikai.

It noted that Gaikai had sent out a press release promising news that had "the potential to change the future of video games, game consoles and how we play".

Cloud-based gaming services have had limited appeal to date because of issues including compromised picture quality and lag - delayed responses to button presses or joystick moves caused by the fact that commands have to be sent to a remote server.

However, one analyst noted that new technology might be about to solve these problems.

"A few weeks ago we saw Nvidia come out with a cloud GPU [graphics processing unit] product," Brian Blau, research director at Gartner's consumer services group  told the BBC.

"Up until now cloud gaming vendors had to cobble together their own servers and graphics solutions and you can't build those in a way that is easily maintainable and extendable over a long period of time.

"Now all of a sudden you can have standard Nvidia graphics with the same drivers you use on your desktop in a virtualised environment, and it provides a really great production environment for someone who wants to deliver cloud games."

Tech site Engadget has also reported that Sony is expected to cut the price of its Vita handheld console. A similar move helped boost sales of Nintendo's rival 3DS last year.

Familiar franchises
Away from the hardware manufacturers, extensions of existing gaming franchises are likely to dominate this year's show with a raft of sequels, prequels and reboots set to be shown off.

Titles including Halo 4; Assassin's Creed 3; Tomb Raider: Crossroads; Hitman: Absolution; Gears of War: Judgement; Dead Space 3; New Mario Super Bros 2; Disney Epic Mickey 2; God of War: Ascension and Star Wars 1313 are all set to be teased at the event.

However, hopes that the much anticipated Half Life 3 would be finally unveiled have been confounded by PC-developer Valve's announcement that it would not announce any new products despite hosting a booth at the show.

Social games specialist Zynga is also exhibiting at the event - its first appearance. However, it has also signalled it would not launch any new products.

"We don't have a big flashy show presence - it's all business," said the firm's head of partner publishing Rob Dyer.

"We are focused on finding and signing partners to publish on our platform."

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