After a brief stretch in beta followed by some vague teasing, Firefox’s native Android app update is finally set to hit Google Play. While there are a raft of bells and whistles — a new welcome page, curvy Australis tabs, Flash and HTML5 support, for starters — it’s the browser’s newfound speed that is getting the MVP treatment. That rapidity is as good a place as any to start a quick hands-on, especially since the native browser lag on one of our older handsets, a Galaxy S, often makes us want to hurl it through a pane of glass. Mozilla claims it built Firefox to a new benchmark it developed called Eideticker, resulting in an overall browser experience twice as fast as the stock Android one. As advertised, initial loading is quasi-instant, and navigation, zooming and tab switching seemed smooth as well, even on the two-gen-old phone.
Feature-wise, preferences and other desktop settings imported easily with Firefox Sync’s shared password system, and the unfortunately named “Awesome Screen” is the new home page shown above, from which it’s fairly simple to launch your preferred sites. Flash and HTML5 generally displayed correctly despite a few minor rendering bugs, and the curved tabs and other design touches make it one of the more elegant Android browsers we’ve played with. Unfortunately, many sites display in full because they don’t yet detect Firefox as a mobile app, but the installation of the Phony 3.2 add-in lets it impersonate other smartphone browsers, and it seemed to work well. We also didn’t like that tabbed browsing now requires two taps to get to another page, unlike the previous version, but we imagine that was needed for the increased speed. Overall, Firefox is a welcome addition to the Android ecosystem — we bet you’re just as eager to start browsing as we are, so stay tuned for the app to hit Google Play later today, or jump past the break for a quick speed demo from the kind folks at Mozilla.
Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich Android-running hardware has had access to HD resolution YouTubestreams since launch (as seen above), but an update to the app that rolled out yesterday finally brings HD to some devices running Froyo or Gingerbread. The catch is that YouTube HD res won’t work on every Android 2.2 or 2.3 phone or tablet, as we’re told it is set dynamically based on screen size and resolution. Another quirk is that some devices still won’t install the updated version directly from the Market, like our Epic 4G Touch. Still, assuming you can snag the update — through official or unofficial means — if you have the pixels to spare you should see upgraded video quality from now on.
We’ve seen our fair share of pico projectors, so takes a bit to actually get us excited about one, but the Seeser from ESPlus is showing a lot of potential. Inside the tiny black box is a laser-based projection system which, unlike traditional lamps, doesn’t need to be focused and can output a 25-lumen, 800 x 600 image up to 100-inches in size. There’s an SD card slot around the side, which appears to be of the micro variety and it has an integrated 1seg tuner for pulling in broadcasts. All of this is powered by a 1GHz processor running Froyo — so there’s no actual need to hook up an external content source. Sadly it doesn’t appear that it boasts access to the AndroidMarket though, without a touchscreen, you wouldn’t be able to make good use of the apps anyway. The Seeser should be available in Korea soon, but there’s no word yet on how much it’ll cost.
Just a few weeks after the LG Optimus 3D got placed in the hot seat at our European offices, we’re ready to give its American counterpart its fair share of warmth. Better known in the states as the Thrill 4G, this AT&T device is the latest smartphone to follow in the footsteps of the HTC EVO 3D by tossing an extra dimension into the mix. As it so happens, two rear cameras and some fancy special effects are just enough to change a person’s judgement of the device in a split-second.
We get it. Few people want to spend their hard-earned cash on a gimmick. But like any other phone with a defining feature, there’s more to this glasses-free 3D handset than meets the eye (pun intended). And after peering under the hood and seeing what the Thrill is capable of, there’s a possibility this phone can hold its own against the competition in the same price range ($100 on AT&T). How does it differ from its European counterpart? Does the phone’s 3D match up against Sprint’s contribution? And how does this handset perform apart from that extra D? Join us as we dig through all three dimensions to get to the root of the Thrill 4G.
Cilantro might be the most polarizing thing on this planet. Some people can’t eat a fish taco without it, others cry frothy tears of dishsoap at its mere mention. The same may well be true of the LG Optimus 3D (known as the Thrill 4G in the US). We already felt a little torn about the device when we first got our hands on it back in February. Sure, it packed some extra heft and, ahem, Android 2.2.2. But its stupor-inducing, 3D display (combined with some truly poignant marketing) was just enough to whet our appetites. Plus, after having already scarfed down a bowl of HTC’s EVO 3D, we were more than a little keen on tasting LG’s take on the glasses-free 3D recipe – a young and intriguing smartphone genre. Now that we finally have, we’re ready to tackle a question for the ages: dishsoap or delicacy?
We’re no strangers to SwiftKey here at Engadget HQ, and today TouchType is launching a major new version of everyone’s favorite Android virtual keyboard — SwiftKey Tablet X for devices running Honeycomb, and SwiftKey X for devices running Android 2.x. Both applications improve upon the original by using TouchType’s Fluency 2.0 artificial intelligence engine, a unique predictive phrase system which learns how you write. New features include cloud learning, which analyzes how you type in Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and text messages to predict phrases in your style, plus keypress technology which continually monitors your typing precision and adapts the touch-sensitive area for each key to improve prediction accuracy. SwiftKey now supports 17 languages (with more coming soon) and is smart enough to interpret three languages at once. There’s also a handful of other enhancements, including support for themes which allow users to customize the look and feel of the keyboard. And that split keyboard option we first encountered at CES? It’s there of course, in the tablet version.
We’ve been testing SwiftKey Tablet X on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for a few days now, alongside SwiftKey X on a handful of phones (including the Nexus S and the EVO 3D), and it’s probably the best virtual keyboard we’ve used on Android yet. In fact, it’s now replacing the stock keyboard on all our HTC Sense-equipped handsets. Prediction accuracy improves quickly after you start using the keyboard, and we liked having the option to turn off the spacebar-triggered auto-completion of words and phrases. Another useful feature is the ability to display arrow / cursor keys on the phone version. The supplied themes are attractive (especially Neon), and the layouts are intuitive — although we’d have preferred the numbers to be arranged in a row instead of mimicking a numpad. Both applications are available today only for $1.99 in the Android Market. Regular pricing is $4.99 for SwiftKey Tablet X, and $3.99 for SwiftKey X. Take a look at our screenshot galleries below, and hit the break for our hands-on videos and more.
Have you heard of Evolio? Neither have we, but it might be time we all start paying attention to this Romanian start-up if its grandiose claims of tech stardom prove true. Heralding it as the “most powerful Android tablet” — and the one ring to rule them all — the Neura is a 1GHz dual core Tegra 2 processor-packing, 9.7-inch full HD displaying, Flash-capable slab of Eastern European engineering. Since its been (self-)declared king of the little green robot OS hill, the company’s aiming this market entry squarely at Apple’s iPad 2 — hoping its powers of 1080p and expandable memory can best that category titan. Unfortunately, the company’s proud boast only covers its hardware specs, leaving Froyo to underpower what could be a truly premium experience. A September update to Honeycomb is loosely mentioned, but with 3.2 already rolling out to Xooms, this baby’s starting to look dated. If owning an exotic tablet strikes your cooler-than-thou fancy, get your credit card set to import mode on July 25th. Informational video and its excellent Romanian-electro intro after the break.
If you’re on Android 2.2 or above get ready for an update to your Android Market experience. Google has just informed us that a new version of the app is incoming, a version that will add tabs for easy access to Google Books and Movies. Starting with the more visual purchases, at $1.99 you’ll be able to start watching movies almost instantly, and apparently see whether Chevy Chase will ever take his family on a successful vacation. But, if offline access is key, you’ll also be able to download the misadventures of the Griswold family for later viewing. Books is now integrated too, saving you the hassle of having to launch the books app, which required you to then open the browser to actually buy any digital tomes. Overall the new design looks cleaner, finger-friendlier, and the addition of Editor’s Choice apps should make it easier than ever to get to the good stuff. The update will be rolling out gradually over the next several weeks and, once you’ve been admitted to the club, you’ll be able to download the Videos app as well. Check out the video preview after the break.
The army of high-speed broadband phones is actively seeking new recruits to join its rapidly-growing force, and the LG Revolution is the latest to graduate from boot camp. We’ve witnessed the emergence of three Verizon LTE handsets in as many months, beginning with the HTC Thunderbolt and the Samsung Droid Charge a few weeks later. As if this wasn’t enough choice to tempt your tastebuds already, the LG Revolution — the entertaining climax to the classic 4G trilogy — was born one full moon after that. With three options, all so close to each other in dimension and features, it’s natural to compare all of ‘em and make the call on which one is the best of the bunch. Is LG’s first crack at Verizon’s LTE network truly a game-changer, as its name suggests? Or does this Revolution fail to even get its feet off the ground? Read on after the break to find out.
The long wait is finally over! Joining the likes of HTC EVO 3D and Sharp SH-12C is LG’s very own Optimus 3D aka Thrill 4G for AT&T, which we first got our hands on back in February and again in March. The specs for this Android 2.2 device (yeah, we know) have remained untouched since we last checked: here we have a 4.3-inch glassessless 3D LCD with 800 x 480 resolution, a 1GHz dual core TI OMAP4430 processor, 512MB of speedy dual channel RAM, a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, and a couple of 5 megapixel cameras on the back that can capture 3D 1080p video at 24fps, or 3D 720p at 30fps. Other tidbits include 14.4Mbps HSPA+ connection, an HDMI-out port, and a removable 1500mAh battery, all inside a 5.93 ounce package. Alas, no date’s been mentioned for the phone’s US launch, but the lucky Europeans will get to pick up this phone first, followed by the rest of the world “over the next several weeks.” Stay tuned while we keep our eyes peeled open for further news.
Motorola hopes to rescue its tarnished MOTOBLUR UI with a name-change. We, however, think the rust runs deeper than that — and it seems we’re not alone. Virgin Mobile has decided to give its prepaid customers the “true Android experience” from now on, which means you’ll find no proprietary shell whatsoever sitting atop its new Motorola Triumph handset. Aside from a few bits of Virgin bloatware, the Triumph escapes with a relatively standard install of Android 2.2. Meanwhile, MOTOBLUR will still be foisted on pay-monthly customers who buy a Photon 4G or XPRT from Sprint, Virgin Mobile’s parent company. Some of them might like the shell and its add-ons, but others will be better off without such OS contamination.
We’re live here at Motorola / Sprint’s press event in New York City, and while most of the folks are swarming around the newly minted Photon 4G, we wanted to give some love to the Motorola Triumph, the first Moto handset to land on Virgin Mobile’s network. While the 4.1-inch, Froyo-packing phone and its 2GB of storage might seem ho-hum to spec junkies, it’s a shockingly solid option for a prepaid carrier. And it comes Motoblur-free! How many Photon 4Gs have that to say for themselves? Take a stroll past the break for a tour, and see why we think the Triumph could actually be a pretty solid score for those who detest strings and fine print.
Does that bulky black plastic surround look familiar? It’s becoming standard uniform for Android tablets at the $250 price point like the Nook Color and now ViewSonic’s latest offering, the ViewBook 730. Basic specs also look pretty similar — the ViewBook has a 7-inch screen (albeit with a 800×480 resolution, lower than the Nook’s), 8GB of internal storage and an SD card slot. But the 730 does have some significant advantages over its older rival: notably a front-facing VGA camera and a faster 1Ghz Cortex-A8 processor (versus 800Mhz on the Nook Color) that claims to handle 1080p video and output it via an HDMI port. Plus there’s full Android 2.2 instead of the Nook Color’s walled-off ecosphere. Interestingly, the ViewBook also tries to distinguish itself with stylus support for note-taking — akin to the HTC Flyer. Goes to show you can’t judge a multi-function e-reader by its bezel. Hit the PR after the break to see if this budget tablet will tick your boxes when it arrives at the end of June.
Would a Droid X by any other name smell as sweet? When we reviewed that phone last year we found it to be a solid performer in a solid chassis. In short: a very good phone. Now it’s back with a new name, or a revised one at least, the Motorola Droid X2 offering the same basic design as its predecessor but packing a lot more heat on the inside — a dual-core dose of Tegra 2, to be specific. Will it tickle your olfactory sensors just like the first X?
Computex 2011 is fast approaching here in Taipei, and today Shuttle introduced a trio of Android-based tablets to complement its fleet of small form factor computers. The 10-inch (WXGA) N10CN12 and 9-inch (XGA) N09CN01 models are both based on NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 CPU paired with 1GB RAM, and target the consumer market. The 8-inch (SVGA) V08CT01 — a ruggedized tablet for education — features an 800 MHz Texas Instruments Cortex A8 processor and 512MB of memory. Pricing and availability are still up in the air — no surprise considering the Froyo-running devices we handled still felt very much like prototypes. Take a look at our hands-on gallery below and hit the break for the full press release.
It wasn’t that long ago that we were jonesing for a Nexus One on Verizon. What HTC gave us instead was the Droid Incredible, with the same 1GHz Snapdragon CPU and gorgeous 3.7-inch AMOLED display — not to mention a better camera (8 megapixel vs. five), 8GB of built-in flash storage, an optical trackpad, HTC’s Sense UI on top of Eclair, and a dash of funky industrial design. The Incredible was an impressive phone with a lovely camera, marred only by questionable battery life and lack of supply, forcing HTC to build a Super LCD-equipped model to satisfy demand. Judging by the popularity of the Incredible, it came as no surprise that following HTC’s announcement at MWC, the Incredible S eventually became Verizon’s Droid Incredible 2. With a 4-inch Super LCD display, global CDMA / GSM radio, front-facing camera, updated internals (including 768 MB of RAM), trick capacitive buttons, and a Froyo-flavored serving of Sense, the Incredible 2 seems like a worthy successor to last year’s Incredible. Does it live up to our expectations or is it just another fish in the crowded sea of Android? Does it significantly improve upon the original formula or is it merely a refresh? Hit the break for our review.
We’re just getting into the swing of spring, flowers blooming and skeeters biting, but already it’s been a great year for Samsung — if we ignore the whole lawsuit thing. Just a few weeks ago the company delivered to us our highest scoring Android phone yet, the Galaxy S II and, while that handset has not appeared on American shores, we were graced with the Droid Charge, which offers LTE speed, strong battery life, and an on-contract price that slightly exceeds its design.
Not so with the company’s latest assault on American carriers. It’s the Infuse 4G, it’s $199 on-contract, and it has a decidedly high-end feel. It even looks a little like the S II — if you squint. This is its own phone, though, a giant 4.5-inch screen setting it apart from its predecessors, and a giant battery inside giving it plenty of life. But is it really as good as it looks?
If you asked us to design our ideal Android phone, it might well end up looking like LG’s Optimus Black. The handset that was once known under the codename “B” features a clean, elegant and exceedingly thin exterior, which is garnished with a 4-inch IPS display capable of generating 700 nits of brightness. There’s the usual litany of added features, too, like a 5 megapixel shooter with the ability to record 720p video, a special G-Key for motion controls, and Wi-Fi Direct for peer-to-peer file transfers. Of course, looks and headline features are just the tip of the iceberg that is user experience, so if you want to know about the mountainous whole, join us after the break for a deep dive with LG’s latest Android phone.
It took ‘em long enough, but it seems as if The Now Network has managed to snap up Motorola’s Droid Pro… just seven months after Verizon Wireless did so. For whatever reason, Sprint’s dubbing its version the XPRT, with the same 3.1-inch HVGA touchpanel, full QWERTY keyboard, 1GHz CPU and Android 2.2 loaded. It’ll go for $129.99 on a two-year contract starting June 5th, but giving that the Pro hit the bargain bin long ago, we’re having a hard time believing anyone will pony up for Sprint’s iteration. Moving right along, the Titanium gets off on the wrong foot by shipping with Android 2.1, and while it’s hailed as the first iDEN device to combine Nextel Direct Connect and Eclair, the G’zOne Commando has somehow managed to show its brawn while stepping up to v2.2. For those interested nonetheless, there’s a 3.1-inch touchscreen and a chassis that’s built to MIL-SPEC 810G for dust, shock, vibration, low pressure, solar radiation, high temperature and low temperature. She’s unpriced for the moment, but the full release can be found just after the break.