Sony vowed a long (long, long) overdue PlayStation Store remake starting this week, and it delivered just that today with launches in Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand. As promised, the PS3 shop’s cleaner design scales more elegantly from standard to high definition, brings more intelligent searching and makes it easier to find everything related to a given game. We still wouldn’t be too eager to dive in just yet, as there’s been hiccups early on — the sheer amount of traffic has reportedly brought the new store to a crawl, on top of teething issues with adding funds and recognizing PlayStation Plus memberships. Sony has promised fixes, but we’re suddenly not feeling so bad about having to wait for that October 23rd North American launch.
Traveling is great — nay, amazing. And travel that requires a passport can be even more fulfilling for those willing to open their minds to new cultures (and, perhaps, deal with entirely too much security screening). But here’s the thing — travel is a lot better, generally speaking, with an internet connection within arm’s reach. Things are never more likely to go awry than when you leave your comfort zone (or, you know, home nation), and we here at Engadget have been investigating the best methods for maintaining a connection whilst abroad for the better part of our lives. To date, you’ve got a smattering of options: rent a MiFi from XCom Global, pick up a rental SIM from iPhoneTrip, pray that you can find a shop that rents data SIMs upon your arrival or pony up for whatever absurd roaming fees that your home operator deems fit.
All of the above options have their pros and cons, but the good news here is that your choices are expanding. As the market for ubiquitous connections continues to grow, another player has recently entered the market. Tep Wireless began as a hotspot rental service that mainly looked after those traversing the United Kingdom, but recently, it expanded its coverage umbrella to include some 38 countries across Europe and 50 nations total. This here editor recently had the opportunity to cross through four of those on a single journey, with a Tep hotspot in hand the entire way. Care to see how things turned out? Let’s reconvene after the break.
Rdio already has a number of stamps in its passport, Canada, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand amongst them. But, the current focus for the streaming music service is Europe, where it’s already launched in Germany, Denmark, Portugal and Spain. While we still don’t have any solid dates, Scott Bagby, the company’s VP of partnerships and internationalization, told paidContent:UK that a pile of new nations are on deck for the coming months, with hopes of covering the entire continent. With licensing deals already struck in the UK, we’re pretty confident England will be part of this next batch of rollouts, but Rdio has no intentions of confining itself to the western world. Bagby said in the interview, “we already have a guy on the ground in Asia,” so look for the service to go live in a few more locales across the pacific. No time frame was given for the Asian launches but, if the company is serious about establishing a foothold there, it should do so sooner rather than later. As Bagby points out, Rdio is “a couple of years behind others in terms of expansion.”
If you don’t own a BlackBerry yourself, chances are you know somebody who does. And if that person lives in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America or South America, they’re probably quite unhappy with RIM at the moment. This week’s service outage began with a server failure in the UK, and spread like wildfire to Africa and the Middle East, before continuing on to parts of Asia, the US, Canada and a good portion of South America. This is only the latest BlackBerry service outage for RIM, bringing email, BBM and web browsing services to a halt. But with BlackBerry services playing a critical role in real-time business and government communications, any interruption is unacceptable, and costly for all.
Sure, we love it when phones and spec lists leak out into the wild, but there’s nothing like an official announcement to set the record straight. When we last saw the Huawei Honor, it claimed to have a single-core 1.4GHz processor, a 4-inch FWVGA (854×480) capacitive screen, and a radio primed for European and Asian bands. The official word? It’s got all of that, but it’s also packing an 8 megapixel rear facing camera (2MP up front), 512MB of RAM (with 4G ROM memory, and expandable up to 32GB) and a hefty 1900mAh battery. The Gingerbread powered handset is a hair thicker than we expected as well, measuring in at 10.9mm at its thinnest point. What else is new? Oh, just a handful of new frequencies, including GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 /1900 and the WCDMA/HSPA+ 900 / AWS / 2100 bands (compatible with T-Mobile’s US 3G). No word on price just yet, but the DLNA-certifiedpowerhouse should be hitting Asia-Pacific, China, Russia, and the Middle East in “Classic Black” the fourth quarter, with more colors (and hopefully, regions) dropping sometime during the Christmas season. Want the full PR and official spec list? Skip on past the break.
Elgato’s been experimenting with live TV on the iPad for over a year now, but until now, that meant streaming programs that were already broadcast online anyway — a mighty large limitation, wouldn’t you say? This week, though, the company announced EyeTV Mobile, a TV tuner that plugs into the iPad 2′s 30-pin connector, allowing it to pull in broadcast television. We just happened to stumble on Elgato’s booth here at IFA and treated ourselves to a short TV break. The tuner, which fits easily in the palm of your hand when the antenna is collapsed, only allows you to draw in signals using the DVB-T standard, so make no mistake this is a product just for our European readers. (Although Elgato says it hopes to release something similar in Japan.) Even more than the hardware or the programming selection (fútbol, anyone?), we remain impressed by the free EyeTV iOS app, whose interface is pretty much the same as the HDHomeRun for iPad app, with the ability to swipe the screen to change channels and, in this case, save your location. It’ll be available across the pond for €99.95 / £99.95 at the end of this month.
Google’s legal woes are piling up in a hurry. French search engine 1PlusV is suing El Goog over alleged anti-competitive practices, less than a week after the Federal Trade Commission opened a formal inquiry into similar accusations levied stateside. The suit, set to be filed in a Paris court this week, claims that Google uses its market dominance to bury rival search results while unfairly promoting those for its own services. According to 1PlusV, Google “black-listed” 30 of its vertical search engines between 2007 and 2010, making it difficult for the firm to compete. The company is also complaining about having to adopt Mountain View’s technology in order to use AdSense and, in total, is seeking €295 million (about $418 million) in damages — the largest damage claim Google has ever faced in Europe. 1PlusV operates the legal search group EJustice.fr and, along with Microsoft, helped spur an EU antitrust probeagainst Google last year. The company says its forthcoming lawsuit represents the “logical” next step in its ongoing antitrust crusade, while Google issued a brief statement, saying it “look[s] forward to explaining this.”
Turns out those leaked shots we saw of Sony’s new VAIO Z laptop were right on the money as the company showed it off officially today for the European press. The specs reveal a 13.1-inch “ultramobile” notebook that comes in at under 1.2kg with a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 1600×900 screen and sheet battery borrowed from the earlier VAIO S for up to 7 hours of computing. Onboard it features only Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 solution but the VAIO Z beats other ultralights with its Power Media Dock, which contributes the power of an AMD Radeon 6650M GPU with 1GB of dedicated memory connected via “the architecture codenamed Light Peak” — Sony can’t call it Thunderbolt — when more polygons have to be pushed. The dock sports one USB 3.0 hookup plus additional USB, VGA and HDMI ports, and a slot for either a DVD or Blu-ray drive. , but it is promised to ship by the end of July in Europe so if the full specs (included after the break) are appealing then you don’t have much time to save up.
Update: Head over to the Sony UK site to configure one yourself — pricing starts at £1,434 ($2,294) with a Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and no PMD. The dock is a £400 ($640) option with no optical drive included, while upgrading to a 1080p 13.1-inch LCD is a mere £40 extra.
Up till now, the ranks of 3D-capable smartphones were neatly organized by territory: Japan had the Sharp Aquos SH-12C, the US had the HTC EVO 3D, and Europe had the LG Optimus 3D. Now it’s all getting a tiny bit messier (and more competitive!) with HTC’s announcement that the EVO 3D has boarded a transatlantic liner and is en route to the green shores of Europa. Available “broadly” across the old continent, this Android 2.3 handset touts a 4.3-inch display with qHD (540 x 960) resolution and an added parallax barrier layer that allows it to deliver a glasses-free 3D effect. We call it an effect because real 3D it ain’t, but at least it’ll allow you to review the three-dimensional pics you snap with the included pair of 5 megapixel autofocus cameras. There’s also a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon purring within for the performance obsessives and a generous 1730mAh battery — perhaps the biggest advantage that we can see for this phone over the similarly specced (but 3D-less) Sensation. Jump past the break for the full spec sheet and PR or hit up our review to learn just how awesome the EVO 3D’s shutter button really is.
You know that microSD card slot that’s been laying dormant in your Motorola Xoom? Provided you don’t reside in the US, that’ll be getting activated soon as part of the tablet’s Android 3.1 update, which is starting to roll out now and should have all of Europe covered within the next few weeks. Motorola explicitly identifies this as a firmware update for “non-US” Xooms, so Canadians would be well advised to check their software update utility, though the big question is why didn’t the American 3.1 update include microSD support as well? What tangled web of intrigue lies behind this selective activation?
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.
Last time we heard talk of a Sony tablet, the company was confirming our suspicions about
the existence of the S1 and S2, giving the distinctive Android devices a broad global release time frame of this fall. And now we’ve been shown a private note sent from Sony’s marketing group, highlighting an August pre-order and an end of September release date for an unnamed tablet from the company, a timeline that’s right in line with our initial report on the S1. The device, according to the note, will be available through Sony Direct, UK department store John Lewis, and a third still-unconfirmed retailer at launch. Availability will apparently open up after the Christmas holiday. The note doesn’t offer up much info on the tablet, though it does promise that it stacks up well against the iPad and offers up some “unique design features,” which may well refer to the S2′s clamshell — or, for that matter, the S1′s curved back.
The US already knows when Samsung will launch its updated Galaxy Tab models and for how much, but that picture hasn’t been quite as lucid over in Europe. Amazon.de is doing its best to dissipate the mists of unknowing by listing the 16GB Galaxy Tab 8.9 at a price of €606.50 ($852), whether you’re buying the version with a black or white back. That sounds a relatively steep price, but it’s not clear whether we’re talking about the WiFi-only or 3G-equipped model. Notably, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 option is also listed alongside its 8.9-inch brethren, but there’s no price attached to it yet. All we can really say for now is that the wheels are in motion and these Honeycomb tablets look to be on their way to the Euro market at about the same time as they’ll hit the American one. Égalité!
According to a recent report by research firm Garnter, Apple is now in the top five PC makers in Europe, sitting at number five, and making up 6.6 percent of all PC sales in western Europe in quarter one of 2011.
According to the report, Apple sold 966,000 units for the quarter, and increase of 10 percent over the past year, whilst the other PC manufacturers in the top 5 lost up to 29 percent on their sales on the previous year.
“The PC market in Western Europe had not exhibited a decline since the second quarter of 2009,” said Meike Escherich, principal analyst at Gartner. “This quarter’s poor performance was due to excess inventory accumulated at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010 in many countries in Western Europe. The excess inventory was reduced only slightly, as demand came to a standstill. The seasonal growth was also weaker than expected, indicating that the downward trend seen at the end of 2010 continued into the first quarter of 2011.”
Apple’s computers are becoming increasingly more popular here in the UK, with sales up 15 percent on the same period last year, you can find out more details over at Gartner.
Source Crunch Gear
Everyone seems to be getting on board with Square’s iPhone credit card reader — Apple started selling the device in its stores last week, and even Visa has taken a financial interest in the company. However, due to the popularity of fraud-fighting chip-enabled smart cards on the other side of the pond, Square’s offering doesn’t quite fit the bill. iZettle has a similar solution for Europe that includes the ever-so-necessary smart card reader, which the company is launching in Sweden this June. Not only does it enable you to accept credit card payments from friends or customers, the app adds a social twist. Merchants can email a photograph and receipt to buyers, who can then share their latest spoils on Facebook. Of course, if this starts to catch on, it could make explaining that “awesome deal” you scored on a new laptop that much more difficult when it pops up on your significant other’s news feed.
Why can’t our refrigerator fire off an urgent email when the milk has gone lumpy? And the toilet paper dispenser warn us it’s empty – before we sit down? And when will our microwaves run BitTorrent? EUREKA, the European R&D network, knows how badly you crave networked objects, and rather than mock you, it’s moving to help. To that end, it has developed small, inexpensive, battery-powered sensors able to link everything from consumer electronics to environmental monitors to factory robots – creating the much-anticipated “Internet of Things.” But unlike the over-hyped RFID, it’s technology you’d actually use. Instead of knowing whether your keys are indeed on the RFID reader, the network could gently remind you that you left them in your car, which is now 100 miles away with someone else at the wheel, but, luckily for you, low on gas. Gaze into the so-called future of things with EUREKA’s press release, conveniently embedded after the jump.
Toshiba’s focus at CES was glasses free 3D displays, but it highlighted more conventional HDTVs today at an event in Rome. Its new TVs and laptops all tie in to Toshiba Places, which sorts out access to different types of apps for video, social networking, music and other areas and is ready to launch this month. Separating Toshiba from the competition is a slew of new technology and the top of the line 55ZL1 model checks all the boxes: Seven core CEVO CPU for image processing, a Pro-LED512 panel that is the world’s first with 512 zones of dimming among 3,072 LEDs, Personal-TV facial recognition that picks up on which user is watching then personalizes to their preferred settings and active shutter 3D glasses.
The edge lit LED VL863 series will come in 47- and 42-inch versions featuring LG’s FPR passive glasses 3D and four pairs of glasses, while the 32- through 46-inch UL863 drops 3D for built-in WiFi and Personal-TV. The SL863 series is the final step down, nixing built-in WiFi. Prices weren’t listed but the new models should be shipping soon, until then you can find more details in the press releases linked below — no word on the US-bound models yet.