Friday, September 30, 2011

Amazon Kindle Fire vs iPad 2

The Amazon Kindle Fire has arrived complete with its 16 million colour screen and all the backing of the enormous online retail platform that is Amazon itself. Big, but is bigger necessarily better?
There also happens to be a certain other massive player in the tablet market in the shape of the company who redefined it back in April 2010 with the arrival of the first iPad. So, now with the iPad 2 ruling the roost, how is Amazon going to compare with Apple in this space and, more importantly as far as your decision goes, how do their tablets match up? Here is the Amazon Kindle Fire vs iPad 2 to help you figure that one out.

Form Factor

Tie: iPad 2
241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm, 613g

Tie: Kindle Fire
190 x 120 x 11.4mm, 413g

It’s not really fair comparing a 7-inch tab to a 9.7-inch one on form factor stats alone - the larger one is quite obviously going to be bigger and heavier. All the same, we’re going to call it a tie this time around.

Yes, the Amazon Kindle Fire is made small enough and light enough to hold in one hand - and anyone who’s tried to do the same in bed with an iPad 2 will know that that’s not so easy - but what gets us a little concerned is that, despite its more pocketable (well, baggable) size, it’s, well, a little bit fat. The similarly sized Blackberry PlayBook comes across a touch chunky and that’s 9.7mm thick. So, the Kindle Fire, at 11.4mm, might not be as physically beautiful as the competition.

Engine Room

Tie: Kindle Fire
OMAP 4430

Tie: iPad 2
Apple A4
In some ways, it’s not hugely relevant to compare the power specs of these two tablets. Both are essentially designed as closed system devices and, as such, you can bet that they’re designed to run their respective content with much aplomb. All the same, we may as well split open these systems-on-a-chip that run the two to find out what’s inside.

On the RAM front, both the Apple A5 and OMAP 4430 contain the same 512MB complement. The CPUs are also identical. Each is a dual-core ARM Cortex-9 set to run at a clock speed of anywhere between 1-1.2GHz. In fact, the only thing that separates them is the GPU. The iPad 2 has a PowerVR SGX543 and the Kindle Fire has a PowerVR SGX540. For the sake of a 67 MPolygons per second vs 60 MPolygons, we’re calling this one a tie to all intents and purposes. Those willing to nit pick may do so at the bottom.


1st: Kindle Fire
7-inch, 1024x600, 169ppi, IPS

2nd: iPad 2
9.7-inch, 1024x768px, 132ppi, IPS

There are some tiny differences between the Amazon Kindle Fire screen and that of the iPad 2 but they more or less balance each other out. Both are multitouch, both are based on LCD technology and both have IPS which gives them as wide a viewing angle as possible, just in case you’re feeling generous enough to want to share your screen.

What you do get with the iPad 2 display is more of it but the advantage that the Amazon Kindle Fire has is that it maintains a similar resolution at slightly smaller size. So, you get a bit of a boost of pixel density for a snappier picture but at the expense of a little less screen real estate. The other advantage the Kindle Fire has is that the aspect ratio of the device is far closer to the film-friendly 16:9 rather than the more awkward 4:3 on the iPad 2. What might just tip the balance though is that the Kindle Fire screen has been chemically hardened to make it more durable. For whether or not this makes a physical difference, we'll have to wait and see.
At the end of the day though, this isn’t a category that should encourage you to choose one over the other.


1st: iPad 2
16/32/64GB + iCloud

2nd: Kindle Fire
8GB + USB + Amazon Cloud

Another close run category here. Neither of these devices has SD removable storage and if it were down to internal flash alone, then the iPad 2 would win with its choice of three storage sizes, all of which are bigger than the 8GB on offer in the Amazon Kindle Fire even if it does have a USB port to back it up.

The tricky part comes in because both devices also offer cloud storage. On the one hand you get iCloud with the iPad, and there’s a couple of issues here. The first is that, at the time of writing, iOS 5 and iCloud are not available on the iPad 2. However, we are expecting that to change very shortly. The next problem with iCloud is that, so far, although there’s been mention of TV shows and it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to sync them or films from the off while out and about.

So, the picture you get with the iPad 2 is that, over Wi-Fi, while at home, you're more or less covered but when out of range of your home library to sync with your options start to narrow a little. Once we're talking 3G coverage only, then there's a maximum file download size that kicks in which means no videos from iTunes at all and no big apps either.

The Amazon Kindle Fire, on the other hand, comes supported by the Amazon Cloud Storage system which promises to store as much of your Amazon bought content as you like, be it books, films, TV shows or whatever else digital that the retail giant sells. In fact, this is pretty much key to the entire model for them.
With that behind you, you can stream direct or download at the touch of a button, whatever you like. Now, that’s all very well at home, work or even at a hotel but the problem is that, because the Kindle Fire doesn’t support 3G, when you’re on the move, you’re at the mercy of whatever is sitting on that 8GB of internal memory alone. According to Amazon, that’s around 10 films.

We’re not saying that that isn’t enough but what it does mean is that using a Kindle Fire does require a modicum of thought and preparation that the Apple iPad 2 doesn’t, even if it's only with music and smaller files that you see the benefit.


1st: iPad 2
Up to 10 hours video

2nd: Kindle Fire
Up to 7.5 hours video

OK. Nice and simple this time. You’ll get more battery life out of the iPad 2 than the Amazon Kindle Fire. Naturally, the quoted specs are your classic “up to” figures which means that you’ll need to turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, possibly dim the screen and generally not touch the thing at all once you start watching your movies, but they should be just about be achievable nonetheless. Either way, it’s the iPad 2 that will last longer.


1st: iPad 2
Wi-Fi, BT, 3G, HDMI

2nd: Kindle Fire
Wi-Fi and USB

This isn’t normally the strongest of categories for the iPad 2 but it still manages to get one over the Kindle Fire on connectivity. The fact that Amazon hasn’t included that same free 3G that comes on the rest of the Kindle range is a bit of a bummer. It might be something that Amazon sorts out later but given that we’re talking about transferring feature length video files rather than books, it might never happen.

All the same, paid or otherwise, not having a mobile internet connection of any kind is a bit of a loss. On the plus side, there is a USB slot that you don’t get on the iPad 2 but it’s not quite as useful as perhaps it was in the past. Its best function might be as a removable storage device.

The other downer is that there’s no video-out socket in the way that the HDMI adapter provides for the iPad. So, this isn’t something for taking round to your mate’s and plugging into the back of their TV. When it comes to your TV, however, an Amazon app on your set linked to your Amazon account might remove the need for video-out. On top of that, who knows what Amazon may or may not let you do over wireless by the time this hits the shelves although it seems unlikely that users will get access to the DLNA certified apps like Skifta and Twonky.

However you look at it, there’s quite a few ifs there and, ultimately, the iPad 2 is more flexible a device on this front for the moment.

OS Software

1st: iPad 2

2nd: Kindle Fire
Android Gingerbread-based

We’re all pretty familiar with iOS these days, whether its iOS 4 or iOS 5. What you get is a relatively closed system with a bunch of things that you can do but also a whole host of things that just aren’t possible the way that are on Android. The plus points, of course, are that it works very well and it’s very easy to use, even if it doesn’t offer a high level of flexibility.

The Kindle Fire might run Android 2.3 Gingerbread but it’s a highly customised and closed down version. The big killer is on the apps front, but more on that in a moment. From what we’ve seen so far, the experience, although very attractive, looks like it offers even less room for manoeuver than iOS with the main face of the Kindle Fire OS a series of carousels where you can purchase and sift through your Amazon books, music and videos.

The other interesting part of the platform is the Amazon Silk browser for the old surfing of the web over Wi-Fi. Silk is a tabbed browser set to be lightening quick because half the computational work is done off-device and up in the cloud in the Amazon servers. It’s a feature known as split browsing. While it all sounds very good, the downside is that Amazon then knows all of your browsing habits. Now, naturally, this is something that your ISP probably knows anyway but a shop (Amazon) knowing all about your other shopping habits is some seriously valuable information for them. It’s up to you how you feel about that. Fortunately, you can turn the split browsing off.
There's also Amazon's Whispersync technology to enjoy whereby your videos and books will pick up where you left them on other devices.


1st: iPad 2
iTunes App Store (500,000+ apps)

2nd: Kindle Fire
Amazon App Store (3,800+ apps)

If there’s one place where Amazon has got you buy the balls it’s on the app front. The Amazon App Store is all you’ll get access to on the Kindle Fire rather than the vast expanses of the Android Market. The Amazon version launched in March 2011 with 3,800 applications to choose from and you can bet that it won’t include any services that interfere in any way with the company’s selling of content and positioning of its tablet device. There’s still plenty of big name games but don’t expect many tools to wrestle control of the tablet back over to you.

On the other hand, the iPad 2 gives you access to the 0.5 million and more apps sitting on the best app store in the world. No contest.

Content Library

1st: Kindle Fire

2nd: iPad 2
iTunes Store

This is where the Amazon Kindle Fire really comes into its own both for the user and for Amazon. The 7-inch tablet gives you access to the entire Amazon Instant Video collection of TV shows and films which amounts to a catalogue of over 100,000 possibilities. Each one can be bought and downloaded to the device or rented and streamed. What’s more, anyone signed up to the £50/year Amazon Prime service can get over 10,000 of these rented for free. The comparison on iTunes is around 6,000 videos with nothing decent for free

Music is where you might expect Apple to do better and, indeed, there’s around 14 millions songs on offer worldwide, but, again, Amazon offers more with 17 million on the MP3 Store which you can stream for your cloud space or download to the device. Beyond that, there’s books, comics, newspapers, magazines and audiobooks and it’s not even worth making comparisons here. This is Amazon’s bread and butter. If it’s access to buy content that you want, then read no further.

File support

1st: iPad 2
Most things

2nd: Kindle Fire
Not everything

Again, this all comes down to what apps you’ll be allowed to use but while there’s just about every kind of player and converter to deal with those files that the native side of iOS cannot reach, that might not be possible with the Kindle Fire. Currently, the supported file format list by Amazon is:

Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.

So, with no AVI, no EPUB and no FLAC support, it might be frustrating when it comes to playing your own library of films, books and music on the Kindle Fire.


1st: iPad 2
Rear camera (VGA stills, 720p video)

2nd: Kindle Fire


Price & Availability

1st: Kindle Fire
$199 (£127)

2nd: iPad 2
Wi-Fi: £339/£479/£599, 3G: £499/£579/£659

The Amazon Kindle Fire is cheap. Really cheap. It’s less than half the cost of even the most basic of the iPad 2 range and it’s going to offer a good, entertaining tablet experience to more or less everyone, and that’s hard to ignore.

It’s available for pre-order now but there are currently no plans to take it outside of the US. Doubtless, those plans will turn up eventually but, with a lot of licensing and agreement paperwork to get through, don’t expect anything in the UK for at least a year.


1st: iPad 2

2nd: Kindle Fire

It’s a little churlish to talk about winners and losers in this comparison but, if you want a blanket “who would win in a fight” type result, then it’s the iPad 2. Ultimately though, the reason we at Pocket-lint write these match-ups is to help you out with your buying decision, and to say that the iPad 2 is the tablet for everyone over the Amazon Kindle Fire would not be correct.

There are some differences worth noting. Yes, the iPad will last you a bit longer, it’s a better looking piece of kit, it has 3G, a camera and it’s more flexible in terms of what you can do with it. The real story, and where you need to think long and hard, is about what you want to do with it.
If a tablet, for you, is about watching movies and TV, and reading an enormous wealth of publications and periodicals, then it’s definitely the Kindle Fire that’s the one for you. If playing games, communicating, working and generally using a tablet as a tool is just as important, then it’s the iPad 2 and that’s where you need to be at. At least until the iPad 3 comes out.

Amazon webOS deal rumoured

Amazon could be about to buy webOS from HP according to sources in the US.
“A well-placed source tells us that HP is currently looking to rid itself of Palm as soon as possible, and that Amazon is the closest to finalising the deal, among a handful of contenders,” explains business focused website
HP bought Palm last year for $1.2bn, but has had a rough time with the company and its operating system.
That rough time culminated in HP halting sales of its webOS tablet, the HP Touchpad, and webOS smartphones shortly after launch after they failed to ignite an Apple and Android loving public into switching.
Since then the industry has been looking to see who would buy the business be it the hardware or the operating system that has failed to attract developers.
Names have included HTC, Samsung, Qualcomm and now the latest in the rumour pot Amazon.
According to Venturebeat's sources and a healthy dose of speculation, Amazon is the perfect partner for a number of reasons.
The first is that such a deal might be possible as Palm’s former CEO, Jon Rubinstein (who is now at HP), is on the board at Amazon.
The second is that The Kindle Fire has been so heavily customized from Android that they might as well use an OS like webOS.
And thirdly an off the cuff remark to tech site earlier in the summer pulls the rumours together nicely:
“So, we’d like a partner that would allow us to expand the webOS ecosystem… There’s a variety of different sets of a characteristics to qualify as a good partner. I would say Amazon would certainly make a great partner, because they have a lot of characteristics that would help them expand the webOS ecosystem. As to whether there’s been discussions or not… that’s obviously not something I’m going to comment about,” Rubinstein said in July.
That those three together, a bit of guess work, and some rumouring and you get the confirmation that Amazon will buy webOS for its Kindle devices of tomorrow allowing it to dodge having to use Google at all.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

HTC Thunderbolt Gingerbread OTA Supposedly Suspended Due to Voicemail Bug

Well this doesn’t sound so good. Wireless and Mobile News has apparently heard it from Verizon that the Android 2.3 update for the HTC Thunderbolt has temporarily been suspended. It was reportedly due to a voicemail bug. They mention it specifically as a notification bug which sounds like the same bug Sprint’s EVO 4G had for a long while. We’ve seen at least one user report of this at but have since been able to corroborate the report.
Verizon reportedly had this to say:
It has come to the attention of Verizon Wireless and HTC that customers using the Thunderbolt by HTC have experienced a voicemail notification error with the recent software update. As a result, the update has  been temporarily suspended while the companies work together to resolve the issue. Verizon Wireless and HTC anticipate the update being available soon; customers will be notified directly on their devices when it is ready for download.
We haven’t been able to confirm this report ourselves but we’ve certainly reached out to Verizon and will update you folks the moment you hear back. In the meantime, let us know if you’re seeing the same bug, and if you’re on Froyo let us know if you are able to pull update down. [Thanks Mike!]

Samsung intros Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus 7-inch tablet

Samsung has revealed a new 7-inch Android 3.2 Honeycomb tablet, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, seemingly targeting a cheaper price point than the recent Galaxy Tab 7.7. Packing a 7-inch LCD IPS display running at 1024 x 600 resolution (rather than the Tab 7.7′s Super AMOLED HD 1280 x 800 panel), the Tab 7.0 Plus also offers triband HSPA+, WiFi a/b/g/n (2.4/5GHz) and twin cameras.

On the back there’s a 3-megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash, while a 2-megapixel camera is on the front for video calling. Inside there’s Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi Direct and WiFi Channel bonding support, USB 2.0 and USB Host, and a microSD card slot to augment the 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage. It’s 193.65 x 122.37 x 9.96 mm and weighs 345g.
Power is courtesy of an unspecified 1.2GHz dual-core processor, paired with 1GB of RAM, and there are the usual proximity, accelerometer, digital compass, gyro and ambient light sensors. On top of Honeycomb, Samsung’s TouchWiz interface delivers its media, social, ereading and other hubs, together with some custom widgets and software like Kies Air.

No word, at this stage, on exactly how much the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus will cost. The company says it will land in Indonesia and Austria first, at the end of October, before seeing a progressive roll-out globally including Southeast and Southwest Asia, US, Europe, CIS, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, Japan and China.
GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (11) GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (10) GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (9) GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (8) GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (7) GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (6) GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (5) GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (4) GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (3) GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (2) GALAXY GALAXY Tab 7.0 Plus Product Image (12) [via SlashGear]

Slimmer iPhone 5 cases start showing up in AT&T stores

Say what you will about the iPhone 5 rumour mill but it never is uninteresting. After having gone back and forth over how many models of iPhone Apple is releasing on Tuesday, the appearance of cases for a teardrop-shaped iPhone 5 in AT&T retail stores may mean that the company is planning on releasing two new handsets after all.
We received word yesterday of an iPhone 4S having surfaced in Apple’s inventory and an iPhone 5 showed up on China Unicom’s website, advertised as supporting the speedier HSPA+ network. MacRumors now reports that an AT&T retail employee sent them pictures (shown below) of thinner, teardrop-shaped silicone cases showing up in the company’s stores.

Collating the various rumours we have heard so far, the common thread seems to be that Apple is planning to release a low-cost iPhone 4-lookalike, the iPhone 4S, and the new flagship model, a slimmer and MacBook Air-like iPhone 5. Although none of this is written in stone, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and we’d be very surprised if Apple only introduced a single new iPhone come Tuesday.

HTC Amaze 4G Shows Off HSPA+ Data Speeds Ahead Of October Launch [Videos]

The HTC Amaze 4G was only officially announced 3 days ago and someone has already gotten a hold of the device ahead of its October 10th launch date. So what did this lucky Amaze owner do? Lucky for us, he took to YouTube to show off one of the Amaze’s most amazing features — its 42Mbps HSPA+ data speeds. There’s actually 2 separate videos for you guys to gawk over. 1st one shows off a few speed tests of the device in downtown Chicago (a certified HSPA+ city) and even compares it to the data speeds of the G2X. Have a gander.
Next up is some real world tests of how the browser takes to handling webpages (load times, responsiveness, etc.). As expected, webpages load up super quick thanks in part to T-Mobile’s uber-fast network in Chicago. Something I’m quite envious about. Take a look and be amazed.
And that pretty much wraps up for the HTC Amaze 4G network test. Even though I’m on Sprint, I’m salivating over those amazing data speeds. The lucky Amaze owner is taking requests via his YouTube videos if you want to see more tests of the device. As a refresher, the HTC Amaze 4G will be available October 10th for $260 after $50 mail-in-rebate and a 2 year agreement. Anyone going to pick up this amazin– (okay I’ll stop) device?
[Via TmoNews 1 and 2]

Samsung Galaxy Note (GT-I9220) Passes Through FCC – Headed To The North America

Although not expected until 2012 in the US and Europe, the Samsung Galaxy Note (GT-I9220) passed through the FCC on Tuesday sporting North American 3G/4G bands that just so happen to be compatible with AT&T’s network. Judging by the fact that Canada received the Galaxy S II and Galaxy S II X before the US, it’s more than likely this device is headed to ‘ol America Jr. and her networks.

The Galaxy Note features a whopping 5.3-inch, 1280×720 HD display and will blur the lines between a phone and tablet earning the new title of “phoneblet.” Will be interesting to see how the average consumer takes to the device once it’s finally launched.
Thanks, Boondoc!
[FCC via AndroidForums]

Sony Ericsson Supports The Android Modding Community – Helps Developers Build Custom ROMs

Sony Ericsson is well aware of the Android modding community and unlike other OEM’s who try and squash it, they’re doing their part to help support it. Whether it’s creating a custom ROM or modifying the kernel, the Sony Ericsson Developer program is aimed at helping these devs cook up nice and stable custom ROMs and they’re starting with a group of devs called “FreeXperia.” These are the guys responsible for creating custom ROMs based on CyanognenMod and porting/modifying them to various Xperia devices lke the Play and Arc.
Sony Ericsson was one of — if not the first Android OEM to announce they would provide the option to unlock the bootloaders in their 2011 Xperia lineup. Karl-Johan Dahlström, Head of Developer Relations for Sony Ericsson and all around nice guy (whom I had the pleasure of meeting at E3 this year), has been doing a great job at keeping Sony Ericsson devices open thanks to his close work with developers. According to Mr. Dahlström,
“We firmly believe in the openness of Android and we are really impressed by the huge activity shown in our products. By being supportive and open, we hope to both learn from the open community, and also share knowledge when that is possible.
When it came to Sony Ericsson’s involvement with the FreeXperia developers,
We were impressed by the passion shown and decided to help out with some bits and pieces. A few proprietary solutions needed to be explained and we helped them with that. We also supported the group with approximately 20 devices, to make their work easier.
Sony Ericsson would also like to remind you that unlocking the bootloader and loading a custom ROM on their devices will more than likely void your warranty. A risk we’ve been willing to take since rooting our G1′s back in the day. For your normal, average Joe Schmoe consumer, keeping your device is 100% stock is usually the wisest choice. Either way, it’s refreshing to see the steps Sony Ericsson has taken to support the Android modding community and something other Android OEM’s can definitely learn a thing or two from.
[Via SonyEricssonBlog]

ROM Maker Peter Alfonso Now Supports Nexus One

The venerable Nexus One is coming up on its second birthday (which is practically octogenarian by smartphone standards), but like the OG Droid, it’s still got its loyal users. Count ROM cook extraordinaire Peter Alfonso among them. He’s begun supporting the Nexus One with new nightly builds of his self-branded series of Gingerbread ROMs.

Previously Alfonso supported the original Motorola Droid, the Motorola XOOM tablet and the Samsung Nexus S. The Google-branded Nexus One will be his first HTC device, with hopefully more to come like the very similar Droid Incredible or Desire. Alfonso began his work on the “Passion” (the codename for the HTC hardware) just a few days ago, meaning the project is still very much in nightly form. Nexus One users who are happy with their current custom ROM may want to hold off for a week or two before trying it out.
The adventurous among you can head over to Peter Alfonso’s website to check out the latest builds of “Peter Alfonso Gingerbread” for the Passion. Given his previous work, Alfonso is likely to update the ROM every day or so, so keep an eye on the download page. And remember, you lords of the custom recovery: be sure to keep a Nandroid backup handy.

HTC Holiday spotted in the wild, this time down under

The HTC Holiday keeps popping up its head for everyone to see and today it has done it again. It was first spotted way back in August after someone sold it on eBay, and since has seen countless leaks. Today was no different and it was spotted in Australia soaking up the sun and running some impressive 4G speeds.

Even today the Holiday was spotted clearing the FCC on its way to the US on AT&T rocking 4G LTE. In the image shown above it’s still being called the HTC Holiday and we are now hearing that is just the internal codename given by HTC. It will in fact be called the HTC Raider 4G on AT&T, and HTC has confirmed that as well.
I actually liked the name Holiday although it does seem a bit weird for a smartphone name. Raider 4G gives it that tough and powerful sound, right Oakland Raiders fans?

Shown in the image above from the Australian version running on Telstra it seems to be blazing along with those 4G LTE radios. The Holiday will be the first 4G LTE smartphone for Telstra in Australia according to recent leaks and for those waiting for a good phone this will certainly be it. With an aweome 4.5″ qHD display, 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8MP camera and more this is a top-end smartphone that is for sure. If you look close you can see Brisbane Australia listed in the speedtest application. We are seeing some mighty impressive speedtest results thus far, hopefully they will be the same when it launches and networks get crowded.
[via CNET Australia]

Amazon CEO says Kindle Fire is an end-to-end device – like the iPad

Bezos goes so far as to say that he doesn’t consider the Kindle Fire a tablet at all. “We think of Kindle Fire as an end-to-end service,” he told an interviewer, saying that the Fire is a wrapper meant to consume a wide array of digital media, from books and magazine to video, apps and music, all while staying constantly connected to the cloud.
It’s hard not to think of Apple’s strictly-enforced walled garden of hardware and software when one hears about an end-to-end service. And while that may sound like a sour note to the Android faithful, there’s no denying that it’s allowed Apple to dominate the tablet market, with the iPad holding on to an 82% market share even as Android tablets become more and more advanced.
Amazon may even have an advantage over Apple in the long-run, since the heavily-customized Kindle Fire relies almost exclusively on cloud services for a la cart and subscription content. As more and more consumers get access to ubiquitous broadband internet, services like Amazon Instant Video will become more and more popular. Shoppers sure seem to think so: the Kindle Fire jumped to the top of Amazon’s product list as soon as pre-orders were made available.

Microsoft’s Android patents could be worth $444 million a year

Microsoft has been collecting licensing agreements from Android manufacturers like Samsung and HTC for months now. According to ZDNet, this adds up to some serious dinero, to the tune of $444 million every year. With Android continuing to dominate in markets around the world, that number can only grow.

In today’s litigious IP environment, it’s often wiser for a company to pony up to patent holders rather than fight an extended court battle, even if they’re not entirely sure they’re in the wrong. Microsoft has banked on that, and a Goldman Sachs analyst estimated that every Android phone sold with a licensed manufacturer nets the technology giant between $3 and $5.
Of course, not everyone’s thrilled with the arrangement. Google objected to Microsoft “extorting” Android original equipment manufacturers, saying that they hindered the progress of innovation. Microsoft executive succinctly replied on Twitter with a single word: “Waaah!”
I’m sure that the manufacturers themselves aren’t thrilled with the arrangements, and neither are consumers or carriers, who will share the burden of a more expensive product. And to be perfectly honest, Microsoft would probably trade the relatively small amount of kickback money they’re getting for a phone platform that wasn’t stuck in the “other” section of the market share pie charts. To sum up, nobody’s very happy with the state of licensing fees — Microsoft’s just unhappy all the way to the bank.
[via ZDnet]

Nexus Prime system app list leaks, including face recognition

The Nexus Prime, AKA the Galaxy Nexus, AKA The DROID Nexus, still isn’t official yet. But based on what we can cobble together it’ll be a variant of Samsung’s Galaxy S II with a pure Android Ice Cream Sandwich experience, just like the Nexus One and Nexus S. A shadowy forum member has posted the list of apps coming from the Nexus Prime, and what it does and doesn’t include is fascinating.

First of all, there appears to be zero bloatware apps. None. No Blockbuster, no Skype, no annoying trial versions of Need For Speed. This is a Nexus phone to the core (if the list is real, of course) and almost every bit of software on it is straight from the Android gods at Google. Speaking of which, there are some exciting new apk files that Android enthusiasts will be salivating for until the Droid Prime’s release.
Among such familiar favorites as GenieWidget.apk and OneTimeInitializer.apk is “FaceLock.apk”, which would seem to indicate that Google is integrating its facial recognition software even earlier than expected. Also of note is “ChromeBookmarksSyncAdapter.apk”, probably the first step in integrating the Android mobile browser and the Chrome desktop browser, just like Google hinted last month. Infrastructure apps like “VZWAPNlib.apk” and ”VZWAPNService.apk” indicate that this is indeed a Verizon smartphone.
Here’s the full list of apps. Note that the /system/app folder isn’t necessarily the only place to store apk files, so the it may not be entirely complete:
[via MyDroidWorld]

Motorola Xoom OTA update brings new market for tablets

New details are just hitting the wires that another update is hitting the Motorola Xoom. Last week it received an OTA to Android 3.2.1 and we are now hearing another update has hit devices this morning. Along with it brings a brand new Android market for tablets — looking beautiful just like what we now have on our smartphones. As soon as I get more details I’ll drop the APK so everyone can enjoy the new market too.

According to many over on XDA the update was actually started sometime yesterday for the Wi-Fi Xoom but most are getting the notification today. As always users can go ahead and manually pull the update by going to menu > settings > about tablet > and check for updates. The brand new market can be seen below, and is said to work amazing on tablets and you can now post reviews and more. I’ve seen it ported to the larger screen — but this is the real deal right from Motorola.

Regarding the Xoom, the update brings it to build HTK75D and from what users are reporting not a lot has changed. We are still on Android 3.2.1 and nothing looks different except for the awesome new Android Market for tablets. It is possible the update brought changes needed for the new market to work, but that is doubtful because then plenty of tablets will be waiting a while to see it themselves. As soon as we get more details and possibly a working APK for all you Honeycomb tablet users we will update this story — stay tuned.

HTC Raider sails through the FCC with AT&T 4G LTE

The much rumored HTC Holiday is all set to receive its wings and come to the US now that it has recently cleared the FCC. The Holiday leaked back in August and looked pretty stellar from our point of view. Hopefully this recent FCC filing means it will be headed to AT&T here soon now that they’ve launched their LTE networks.

Recent reports suggest the HTC Holiday will be called the HTC Raider upon its launch on AT&T. The recent FCC filing is for a similarly sized HTC device headed to AT&T with those 4G LTE radios so it only makes sense. Not to mention we’ve even spotted the HTC Holiday in the wild showing off those 4G LTE speeds.

All the links above confirm the details but in case you missed them we have a 4.5″ display, 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 4G LTE, 1GB of RAM and more with this beast of a smartphone. Last we heard AT&T officially outed this as the Raider, that along with the FCC reports lead us to believe it will be coming sometime soon. Stay tuned for more details on the HTC Raider with AT&T 4G LTE.
[via FCC]

Kindle Fire blazes to Amazon’s best seller list

Just as we expected, the Kindle Fire is selling fast according to recent reports. The hot coals from the Kindle Fire can already be felt as Amazon has stated its flames have reached the top of their best sellers list, and it did on the first day. The high sales have continued and are going strong today suggests Amazon.

The Kindle Fire, announced yesterday seems to already be a big hit with buyers when Amazon threw it up for pre-order the same day — It will ship November 15th. We didn’t stop there either, we also have a quick Q & A for you to check out.
Apparently the $199 Kindle Fire is in the top spot for the second day in a row and is showing no signs of slowing down. Amazon didn’t mention any sort of specific numbers but they expected sales to soar, and should have plenty on the way to fulfill all of those orders. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the number of sales should reach the “millions” but we have nothing further regarding an actual number although its only been two days.
One appealing aspect is the new Amazon Silk browser that should make a huge difference for browsing the web on a mobile device, they also have plenty of Kindle Fire accessories available for pre-order that too will ship come the 15th.
So, who plans to buy one, or who pre-ordered already? Do you think the Kindle Fire will be a success? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Bonus hands-on videos


Motorola DROID 3 Update rolling out now

Well, Motorola and Verizon have finally started the 2.3 Gingerbread update rollout for the DROID 3. It was first announced earlier this month and after initially rolling out to a few testers it was pulled to make a few last minute changes. Now just a few weeks later everything is a go and the update should be hitting phones today.

The update today should bring the DROID 3 to build 5.6.890 and includes Google Talk with video chat along with a number of bug fixes that should help with things like battery life and overall stability. Many devices don’t get OTA updates this quick after being released so it’s a good sign to see Motorola working so quickly on these types of things. Here’s the official update info from Verizon.

It clearly states a few important bug fixes such as audio clarity for phone calls and navigation, as well as a fix for the annoying continuous alerts from visual voicemail some users were having. The biggest two features I see is Google Voice with video chat support, and users can now stream video with the NFL Mobile application on the DROID 3. Below in the gallery you can see the update doc in full size for all the details.
Go ahead and wait for the update, or as usual you can check manually by going to menu > settings > about phone > system updates and give it a try yourself if you’d rather not wait. Enjoy your freshly baked Gingerbread and let us know if you have further issues after the update.

Best Buy cutting HTC Flyer price to $300 on October 6th

Rumors are flying that HTC’s first Android tablet will be seeing a significant price reduction soon. According to Phone Arena, Best Buy will be slashing the price of the wifi-only HTC Flyer to $300, a $200 reduction off the current retail price, next Thursday. If true, that could make the 7-incher a lot more attractive as the Android tablet market races to the bottom.

Reasons for the reduction are varied. First of all, the Flyer is definitely too expensive next to the $500 iPad and $400 Asus Transformer, both of which have a larger screen with a higher resolution. While the Flyer’s Gingerbread OS is a lot more capable that that of the Nook Color, mainstream consumers will have a hard time seeing the difference, capacitive stylus notwithstanding.
But the more immediate issue is probably the Amazon Kindle Fire, due in mid-November at a doorbusting price of just $199. Combine that with lowered expectations after the HP Touchpad $99 firesale and the Blackberry Playbook’s $299 price for a similar 16GB model, and it’s awfully hard to make a case for the Flyer’s comparatively high price tag. HTC is taking a lot of heat for its expensive tablets lately: the $700 on-contract price for the AT&T Jetsream drew scoffs from press and consumers alike.
Take this news with a grain of salt, as it comes from an anonymous tipster. A lowered price for the Flyer would certainly make it a lot more attractive, especially when the forthcoming Honeycomb update arrives. There’s no word yet on any similar price drops for the similar EVO View 4G, or whether or not the pricey stylus will also be reduced.

Amazon Kindle Fire Q and A with PR Rep

While taking a close look at the Kindle Fire this week in New York City at the big Amazon event, we got several different perspectives on the brand new cloud-heavy elementally-named tablet. What you’re going to find is that, like all presentations of products at events such as these, there is a bit more detail in wings that, while the group presenting the device doesn’t mean to hide, simply isn’t as relevant to the general public, and is therefor not revealed unless someone specifically asks. That’s where Vince (behind the camera in this case) comes in.

The video you see below is our Android Community hands-on (or eyes-on if you prefer) video of the Kindle Fire in which we’re given a basic rundown of the features that are public already, followed by some Q and A. Past the standard look, the PR rep we’re speaking with opens a 3rd party magazine app and the questions begin.
Kindle Fire hands-on video

Android Community: Do you have to swipe or can you just [tap]?
Amazon PR: This one’s an app so it requires swiping.
AC: What about zooming in and out?
PR: I don’t know if they support it – we support multitouch zooming, but it doesn’t look like they support it here [in this app].
AC: Can you side-load PDFs?
PR: Yeah sure, but we don’t think people are going to do that as much because under the docks tab you have an email address for each Kindle Fire so you can just email [content] for free and it’ll just magically appear on the shelf.
At this point some of the questions come from other publications, so we’ll just switch to Q and A, watch the video to see who asks what if you need to know.
Q: Do you have an email client on there?
A: We do have an email client we’re not showing today, but it will come out of the box with an email client.
Q: And what about if you want to do some word processing, what’s the best way to go about doing something like that?
A: App store. Hopefully we’ll have multiple selections by the time we ship, in the app store, that’s the plan.
Q: Is it just going to be Amazon App Store or will there be stock Android App Store [Android Marketplace] as well?
A: Today it’s just he Amazon App Store – we’ll certainly talk to Google – if they’re interested – we’ll certainly talk to them.
Q: You’re doing browsing, can’t you [access] the Android Market that way?
A: Well no, because Google requires that you authenticate the device with their DRM and we don’t have their DRM on the device at this point.
Q: From a hardware perspective, what ports are available? Is it just charging?
A: Yes just USB, that’s for connecting to your PC or also we have a charger, fast charger, and then on the bottom you have a headphone jack for headphones and then a power/sleep button.
Q: And then battery – how long? Usage-wise – video?
A: You should get – in sort of a run-down test – you should get three films. If you want to play them without Wi-fi on you should get up to seven hours.
We’re pretty bummed that this device doesn’t appear at the moment to have any capabilities for outputting video to bigger screens, in particular. As far as using the tablet for media, unless Amazon is seeing some sort of quick trend away from such functionality, transmitting to bigger screens is a must for your humble narrator and crew. WIll this hurt sales? We’re can’t quite yet be sure!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Google/Motorola Mobility deal to be further looked into by DOJ

The AT&T and T-Mobile merger has been getting quite a bit of attention lately, with just about everyone thinking that this is a bad move. Meanwhile another major acquisition, Google and Motorola Mobility, has been rather quiet and keeping to the background, at least until now where the DOJ (Department of Justice) has decided to take a closer look at the $12.5 billion deal.
Google has in the past been closely scrutinized, which is expected considering the power and reach that the company has managed to amass over the years, and it looks like this deal will be no different. This request for more information by the DOJ will basically result in the deal not being able to close for an additional several months, which could pose a problem for both companies. What comes to mind is Motorola Mobility’s lawsuit with Apple, where Apple has requested for a stay until the merger between Google and Motorola Mobility has been completed, and if the merger has been dragged out it could end up being to Apple’s advantage.
It has been speculated that perhaps one of the reasons why the DOJ is taking a closer look at this deal is due to Android being the leading smartphone platform at the moment. Controlling a little over 40% of the smartphone platform market share, and despite Google claiming Android to be open-source, this acquisition could limit competition, especially in the future should Google decide to close its Android doors to other manufacturers.

Dell Takes another Stab at Android Smartphones with the Streak Pro 101DL for Japan

After early attempts to strike a name for themselves in both the Android smartphone and tablet arenas, Dell has more recently kept rather quiet on both fronts. Their 10-inch Honeycomb slate, the Streak 10 Pro, didn’t see an extremely wide release as the Dell name has slowly fallen out of most Android discussions. The company looks to make a return in a big way with the announcement of the new Dell Streak Pro 101DL the first full-fledged smartphone entry into the Streak lineup and no slacker in the specs department.
The Streak Pro 101DL is headed for Japan’s SoftBank and features a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen at qHD resolution, a 1.5GHz dual-core MSM8260 processor, and an 8MP camera. Other specs include Dell’s Stage 2.0 interface on top of Android 2.3, a 1.3MP front-facing camera, and support for Bluetooth 2.1 and 802.11b/g/n.
Japan is slated to get the phone first but Dell does have global sales plans for the new Steak Pro 101DL. It could give Dell just the boost they need to become a relevant Android contributor once again.
[via TechCrunch]

China’s HTC Sensation Variant First to Use ST-Ericsson NovaThor SoC

At first glance, the HTC Sensation Z710t doesn’t differ much from the phone first introduced last spring, but underneath the familiar exterior lurks the new ST Ericsson NovaThor SoC. The handset is headed for China Mobile and couples the 1GHz Nova A9500 dual-core application processor with the Thor M6718 mobile for connectivity to the carriers TD-SCDMA network. The pairing is designed for speed on all fronts.
Otherwise, the Sensation remains largely the same with a 4.3-inch qHD display and 8MP camera. Pricing an release date for the handset are currently not available.
Powerful New ST-Ericsson Platform makes Debut in HTC Sensation Z710t
China Mobile’s latest TD smartphone based on state-of-the-art NovaThor™ platform
Geneva, September 26, 2011 – China Mobile and HTC have launched the first smartphone to be based on ST-Ericsson’s powerful new NovaThor platform. The Sensation Z710t offers consumers immersive 3D graphics, fast web browsing, high-definition multimedia and the ability to run several advanced Android applications simultaneously with exceptional performance and battery life.
Underneath the hood of the HTC Sensation Z710t are ST-Ericsson’s Nova™ A9500 dual-core application processor, running at 1GHz, and ST-Ericsson’s Thor™ M6718 modem, which can connect to China Mobile’s extensive TD-SCDMA network, enabling consumers to get online at broadband speeds across much of China. The HTC Sensation Z710t also sports an eight megapixel camera and a 4.3 inch display.
“ST-Ericsson’s new NovaThor platform has enabled us to develop a world-class Android smartphone for China Mobile’s TD network,” said Matthew Costello, Chief Operating Officer of HTC. “Consumers are going to be captivated by the fast and responsive multimedia experience delivered by the HTC Sensation Z710t.”
“The launch of this exceptional HTC smartphone highlights both the capabilities of our NovaThor platform family and our wholehearted support for China Mobile’s drive to bring world-leading smartphones onto its TD network,” said Pascal Langlois, senior vice president, chief sales and marketing officer of ST-Ericsson. “Consumers and Android application developers alike will relish the raw power and 3D graphical capabilities of the HTC Sensation Z710t.”

Asustek and Acer join Tizen project, HTC said to be evaluating its decision

Just a day after news that the MeeGo operating system had met its demise and a new Samsung and Intel backed Linux OS called Tizen would rise to take its place, both Asustek and Acer have reportedly joined the project, with HTC “currently evaluating its decision”, reports Digitimes.
Tizen will be hosted by the Linux Foundation and will be jointly-created by Intel and Samsung, supporting multiple device categories including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-car devices.
MeeGo, the predecessor to Tizen, was put on deathwatch the minute Nokia announced that it was to invest heavily in Microsoft’s Windows Phone ecosystem. The company did release one MeeGo-powered device, the Nokia N9 – which launched to favourable reviews – but the company distanced itself from development of the platform as it looked to solidify its smartphone presence with the backing of Microsoft.
The platform will focus on HTML5 and other web standards, opening APIs that will “cover various platform capabilities” including messaging, multimedia, camera, network, and social media.
Digitimes adds:
Application stores will also merge the current resources of Intel’s MeeGo and Samsung’s Bada. Tizen has already won support from Panasonic Mobile Communications, NTT DoCoMO and SK Telecom, and a software development kit (SDK) is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2012.
Following Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, many of the top smartphone vendors have begun evaluating their reliance on the Android platform to ensure they remain competitive should Google shift its approach with the operating system. Samsung has said it will continue development of its Bada platform, with HTC also declaring it has been looking into either buying or developing its own OS.

Skype v2.5 adds video calls to Galaxy Tab 10.1, more

Skype has updated its Android app to add video calling to more  smartphones and tablets, with v2.5 adding support for 14 more models. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Google Nexus One and Motorola DROID 3 are notable models, though the ATRIX and LG Optimus 3D also make an appearance.

In addition to the new devices, Skype has also added the ability to switch between portrait and landscape orientations while within a call, as well as zooming by tapping the display. Bluetooth headset support has been improved, and the app as a whole should be more bug-free and faster.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  • HTC Nexus One
  • HTC Shooter
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Live with Walkman
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V
  • LG Optimus Black
  • LG Optimus 3D
  • LG Optimus 2x
  • Motorola Photon
  • Motorola Droid 3
  • Motorola Bionic
  • Motorola Xoom
  • Motorola Atrix
  • Acer Iconia
On the downside, Skype has introduced advertising with this release, just as on the desktop versions for PC and Mac. You can bypass the adds if you have some Skype credit, however. Skype for Android v2.5 is a free download from the Android Market.

HTC Explorer delivers Android on a budget

HTC has announced its latest Android smartphone, the HTC Explorer, targeted at entry-level users hoping to step up from their featurephone. Replacing the altogether underwhelming HTC Smart, only with Android 2.3 Gingerbread and HTC Sense 3.5 this time rather than BREW, the Explorer packs a 3.2-inch HVGA touchscreen, 600MHz processor and 512MB of RAM.

Connectivity includes 3G, WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0, while there’s a microUSB port and a microSD card slot to augment the minimal 483MB ROM. The 1,230 mAh battery is hidden behind a soft-touch, rubberized rear cover, initially available in black or blue though HTC tells us they’ll have alternative colors soon.
The camera is a mere 3-megapixel unit, further example of what HTC told us was a “focus on device expectations, not specifications” but what’s really more likely to be the result of building to a strict budget. Pre-pay users and cash-short students are the expected audience, with HTC adding a “data monitor” app which can keep track of how much data, SMS and calls you’ve used. Unfortunately – for the user, at least, not the carrier – the app won’t actually pop up and warn you when a limit is about to run out, you’re expected to check it manually, and there’s no homescreen widget at this stage.
Otherwise the only app of note in the updated Sense 3.5 is “Best Deals”, HTC’s interpretation of the local deals market. Unfortunately we weren’t able to test that in our pre-briefing with the Explorer.
The HTC Explorer is expected to go on sale in Europe and Asia from October 2011. Pricing will depend on market.
Update: Vodafone UK tells us they’ll be offering the Explorer, though still no word on how much.
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