Today’s no doubt a big day for ASUS: while chairman Jonney Shih is gearing up to introduce the PadFone 2 in Milan later today, we just saw CEO Jerry Shen wowing the crowd with the same phone-in-tablet combo back in Taipei. Just as the recent leaks have shown, ASUS’ surprisingly quick follow-up to the original PadFone is simply bigger and better in many ways, notably with a screen upgrade to 4.7-inch 720p Super IPS+ panel (with up to 550nits brightness thanks to Sharp’s IGZO technology), Qualcomm’s awesome quad-core APQ8064 SoC instead of its dual-core sibling, 13-megapixel f/2.4 BSI sensor from Sony, 1.2-megapixel front camera, and a much slimmer PadFone Station slate — partly because it no longer features a docking bay cover! New owners will be greeted by Android Ice Cream Sandwich, but ASUS promises a Jelly Bean upgrade soon. There’s much more than meets the eyes so read on to find out more.
The Xperia T, formerly codenamed Mint, rumor and leak victim since January, has officially broken cover. Revealing its 4.55-inch face to the crowds in Berlin, the Reality Display packs a 1,280 x 720 resolution and offers what Sony is calling the “best HD experience on a phone to date.” The company claims you can view vids in full 1080p HD quality, though we’re still waiting to receive additional clarification on this statement. (Update: Sony clarified that it was merely referring to the 1080p video recording capabilities of the phone.) The Xperia T runs on Ice Cream Sandwich, but we’re told it will be upgraded to Jelly Bean shortly after launch. It also features a 13MP fast capture camera and boasts a feature Sony is calling Sleep to Snap, which means you can go from a black screen to taking photos in an instant. What else does this new flagship offer? A one-touch function with NFC which you can use to tap to connect to other Sony devices, a 60-day premium trial of Music Unlimited and a new tier called Access which will be available in Europe for 0.99 Euros per month and will deliver full access of the service to PCs and the PS3.
The T — which will be known as the TX in select markets, and should be launching globally over the next few weeks — also sports a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon S4 CPU, pentaband UMTS / HSPA+ radios, a front-facing cam with 720p video capture, MHL connectivity, FM radio, 16GB onboard storage and an 1,850mAh battery. Dimension-wise, the T will weigh 4.9 ounces (139g) and come in at 9.35mm thick. Lastly, the new Xperia flagship will be available in black, silver and white hues (while the TX appears to come in pink as well). Pricing is still an unknown, but as we’ve seen before, it may largely depend on the market anyway. We’ll keep you posted as more details come in.
Sony Xperia Tablet S official: slimmed-down design, Tegra 3, IR remote and Android 4.0, starts at $400
Looks like those leaked slides showing Sony’s Xperia-branded tablet were right about pretty much everything. (Well, everything except the price, anyway). The company just formally announced the Xperia Tablet S and, as rumored, it features a Tegra 3 chip, Android 4.0 and up to 64GB of built-in storage. Like last year’s Tablet S, it has that distinctive folded-over magazine shape, except this go-round it’s made of metal, and measures between .35 and .47 inches thick (the weight, too, has dropped to 1.26 pounds, down from 1.31). Sony also kept the Tablet S’ IR emitter, which allows the tablet to double as a universal remote, and this time you can program shortcuts to do things like watch sports. Rounding out the spec sheet, there’s a full-size SD slot, a 9.4-inch (1,280 x 800) IPS screen and a 6,000mAh battery promising 10 hours of runtime.
As we mentioned, the tablet will ship with Ice Cream Sandwich, but Sony is promising an upgrade to Jelly Bean as soon as it can optimize all its custom apps. And indeed, there are quite a few specialized applications here. For starters, there’s a new Watch Now app that allows for live TV-viewing (cable subscription required), with the option to “check into” shows and share comments on Facebook and Twitter. Meanwhile, Sony added a Guest Mode that lets you create custom user profiles, forbidding the use of certain apps — a handy parental control tool, we say. Naturally, Sony also threw in Music and Video Unlimited, where you can buy content from Sony’s vast movie and song catalogs. Finally, the tablet comes with 5GB of space in PlayMemories, Sony’s new cloud storage service.
The tablet will be available September 7th, though Sony is accepting pre-orders starting today. It will start at $400 for the 16GB model, with the 32GB going for $500 and the 64GB for $600. And yes, as those leaked slides indicated, there will most certainly be accessories. For starters, there’s that optional Surface-like keyboard we heard about, priced at $100. There’s also a three-position stand, with HDMI output and a USB adapter for a charging. That, too, costs $100. Sony is also selling a charging cradle ($40), a plain-Jane stand ($25), a dock speaker ($130) and a carrying case, priced at either $51 or $80, depending on whether or not you get it in leather. We very much expect to get some hands-on time at IFA, so stay tuned for first-hand impressions.
Archos has had its hand in the slate game since the early days of “internet media tablets,” and while its products don’t have quite the same brand recognition as, say, Samsung’s, we’ve found the French company’s devices to be some of the best-value tablets available. Budget-minded prices and innovation don’t usually go hand in hand, but in the case of its new 101 XS Android 4.0 tablet, Archos has a few tricks up its sleeve. The slate boasts a keyboard cover and kickstand, along with a magnetic hinge allowing the lid to attach to the display. Arriving in November for $400, the Archos 101 XS is a productivity-minded take on slates, complete with a full set of keys and a bundled copy of OfficeSuite Pro. Do the hardware and software add up to a killer combo? Read on to find out.
Archos recently dropped a few hints about a Gen 10 tablet, and, just as promised, three weeks later the device is getting its official unveiling. Meet the Archos 101 XS, a 10-inch slate running Ice Cream Sandwich and a dual-core TI OMAP-4470 processor.
Staying true to the company’s budget-friendly rep, the 101 XS will go for $400 when it drops in November, and that includes the tablet’s main attraction: a keyboard dock that also acts as a cover to protect the 1,280 x 800 display. The so-called Coverboard attaches to the tablet’s body magnetically, and there’s a dock for securing the device when you want to type. The Coverboard sports a full QWERTY layout along with home, back and recently open buttons for navigating the Android OS. Speaking of which, Archos says the XS will be upgradeable to Jelly Bean in October. Other key specs include 16GB of internal storage, a 1.3-megapixel, 720p webcam and a 1.3-pound, 0.31-inch-thick design.
To complement its new slab, Archos has also announced several new docks and covers. The Boombox speaker dock will charge your 101 XS while you soak up 32 watts of music playback. If you’d prefer to hook it up to your existing system, the Cradle dock has audio-out ports alongside a pair of USB sockets that can be connected to portable hard drives — and more music. A selection of pouches and sleeves will also be up for grabs for anyone who’s willing to leave that Coverboard behind. Pricing info for these accessories is yet to come.
As mentioned earlier, we’ve just gotten our hands on Qualcomm’s latest development platform to see how its first quad core chipset fares. And boy, that APQ8064 really doesn’t disappoint, but it should be no surprise — we’ve already seen how the top dual core S4 chipsets already beat their quad core competitors in certain aspects, so it’s only natural for the quad core S4 Pro to annihilate them. As you can see in our chart after the break, the APQ8064-based MDP easily beat the Tegra 3-based One X and Nexus 7, as well as the Exynos 4412-based Galaxy S III. And partly thanks to the Adreno 320 graphics core, the MDP even scored an astonishing 132fps in our GLBenchmark test, while the quad core Galaxy S III with Mali-400 graphics came second with 99fps, with the remaining devices lingering around 60fps only.
Obviously, the question remains how big of a trade-off there is on battery life in exchange for those two extra cores and the more powerful graphics chip. That said, we have a feeling that Snapdragon’s Krait architecture and asynchronously clocked cores will again prove that Tegra 3′s 4-PLUS-1 design isn’t the best solution for battery efficiency — as many of you might already know. We shall see when APQ8064-based products become available later this year. For now, take a gander at our numbers and photos.
As Google I/O 2012 rolls along, the YouTube team is updating its Android app to v4.0 with a load of new features, but you’ll need Android 4.0+ to take advantage of them (at least for now, see below). Available in 47 countries, the new app brings a brand new UI with support for channels that reflects the redesign rolled out on the website last year (not the circle-centric look that it is testing with a select few), and it can precache videos from your favorite channels for viewing later. All you have to do is select “preload” in the setting menu and it will pull down videos from your subscriptions and Watch Later queue when plugged in and on WiFi. To actually view them later you will still need to be online, but they’ll load instantly from the device’s storage instead of streaming.
Another new feature is integrated remote functionality to control playback on connected TVs and other devices. This apparently extends to more than just Google TV, as we’re told to “expect more updates later” on how this feature will become broadly available. If you’re not rocking the latest Android software don’t freak out yet, as the team indicates these features will come to more devices later. Developers should be excited too as there’s a slew of new YouTube APIs available, hit the source links below to check them out or download the app yourself.
The Xperia miro’s moved up its coming-out party a whole nine days thanks to Sony Mobile’s Facebook campaign. Loaded with ICS, the phone is outfitted with a 3.5-inch display, 5-megapixel camera, a front-facing “chat cam” and comes in shades of black, gold, pink and silver. Integrated Facebook features and customizable illuminations are also promised, but the lid hasn’t been lifted on more detailed specs. As of now, the social-minded phone is only slated for release in Europe, but look out below for some additional glamour shots or head past the break for the video unveiling.
It wouldn’t be Computex without some KIRF Apple products. And what we have today isn’t quite a MacBook Air. But it’s amazingly close. The N2-A, as it’s known in the OEM underground, is one of the most impressive MacBook Air lookalikes we’ve seen — and one of the cheapest. $74,500 will net you 500 of these lovely 13.3-inch bundles of almost-Mac goodness, which comes out to just $149 apiece. The THD (Thread Technology Co.)-made clamshell comes complete with an LED-backlit 1366 x 768 LCD, 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, 1 gig of DDR3 RAM and 8 gigs of SSD storage. There’s also built-in 802.11b/g/n WiFi (we’re a bit devastated about the lack of 802.11ac), and the option to add a 3G dongle or Ethernet adapter via the pair of USB 2.0 ports. As you may have gathered from the image, there’s a full-size QWERTY keyboard and a familiar, yet incredibly mediocre trackpad, along with a 2-cell 4200 mAh battery (rated to 8 hours), an SD card slot, a not-so-MagSafe 110-240-volt AC adapter, a headphone out, mic in and an HDMI port.
Sony Xperia GX packs 13-megapixel camera and 4.6-inch HD display, joined by Xperia SX to offer LTE in Japan
Sony’s announced its first two LTE-capable phones for its Japanese customers — and there’s two of ‘em. The Xperia GX is up first, with a 720p 4.6-inch display squeezed in alongside a new 13-megapixel camera — a first for Sony’s mobile family, and presumably its new CMOS sensor. A 1.5 GHz dual-core processor ensures it should all tick along nicely, while the hardware design follows the curves of last year’s Xperia Arc, this time with a matte finish. The camera upgrade and huge screen makes a good case for this to be Sony’s new flagship device — mere months since the Xperia S debuted in Europe — and before the Xperia Ion has even had chance to launch in the US.
It’s joined by the Xperia XS, which Sony claims is the world’s lightest LTE capable handset, weighing in at just under 100g. It packs a smaller 3.7-inch screen with the same Mobile Bravia engine found on its bigger brother — and the rest of Sony’s recent handsets. It’s joined by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor (although there’s no specifics on what type just yet), a more standard 8-megapixel camera and it wouldn’t be a Japanese phone without infrared connectivity, mobile wallet and a mobile TV — they’re all built-in. Both phones will launch in black and white, and Android fans can rest easy, as they’ll both arrive with Android 4.0 installed when they hit stores in Japan this summer.
It’s still only available for Ice Cream Sandwich, but those not bound by an older OS can now download a fairly significant update to Google’s Chrome for Android web browser. In addition to some added language support and broader availability, it brings with it the ability to select desktop versions of websites, save bookmarks to your home screen as a shortcut, and download files to your device, plus options to choose which apps handle certain links. As before, it remains a beta, and it’s tailored to suit both Android smartphones and tablets.
What was the exciting new collaboration that HTC and Sprint’s bigwigs just couldn’t wait to tell us about? Anyone who’s been following the smartphone scene at all as of late surely won’t be surprised to find out that the one-time Nextel bedfellow is getting a member of the One family to call its own. It’s just the precise name of the device that wasn’t too predictable.
When the handset goes on sale sometime in Q2 for $199 it’ll be saddled with the decidedly unwieldy moniker HTC EVO 4G LTE — a rather clunky title for such a svelte device. What the name does offer, however, is a direct connection to the original EVO 4G. That phone, which arrived in consumer hands way back in June 2010, was branded as Sprint’s first “4G” handset, courtesy of the carrier’s WiMAX network. It’s understandable, then, that its spiritual successor would carry that redundant 4G LTE moniker. The companies also clearly wanted to retain some of those happy memories, while setting the phone apart from those other One handsets on the market. How’d they do such a thing? Meet us after the break where we lay it all out.
Just when we thought our favorite Android virtual keyboard couldn’t get much better, TouchType decided to prove us wrong by launching SwiftKey 3 Beta. If you’re one of the product’s 30,000+ VIP users, you’ll want to get your hands on the company’s newest creation right now, for free. What’s new? The space bar is no longer required, for one — Smart Space detects and corrects “miss-typed or omitted spaces across whole phrases.” Paradoxically, that same space bar is now wider, just in case you’re feeling nostalgic. Smart punctuation further enhances the UI, with language-specific improvements in tow. In fact, SwiftKey 3 offers support for seven new languages — Korean, Estonian, Farsi, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian and Serbian (for a total of 42). Finally, you’ll find two lovely new themes, Cobalt and the Ice Cream Sandwich-inspired Holo. We’ve been playing with TouchType’s latest and greatest for a few hours now on both our HTC One X and our Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and we’ve stopped using the space bar completely. Did you notice? Wedidn’tthinkso. Check out the gallery of screenshot below, hit the break for a demo video and the full PR, then follow the More Coverage link to sign up as a VIP.
Toshiba has shown off a new Android tablet in Germany, the Toshiba AT330 which comes with the latest version of Google’s mobile OS, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
The Toshiba AT330 features a 13.3 inch multi-touch touchscreen display that has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, although this hasn’t been confirmed as yet.
Splashtop is one of the premier remote desktop apps out there and, at CES, we got a pretty sweet demo of it pushing full screen games and HD video from a Windows 7 PC to a Tegra 3 tablet. Now that version (THD) is available for download in the Android Market for $6.99. Of course, you’ll need a Tegra 3 slate running Ice Cream Sandwich to take advantage, while playing Skyrimin full screen has the added requirement of PC sporting a GeForce GPU. Once you’ve gotten those basic requirements out of the way you’ll still want to make sure you’ve got a solid and quick wireless connection — all the processing power in the world won’t be able to compensate for a lack of bandwidth. Check out the video after the break to see it in action and hit up the source link to buy it yourself.
When it rains it pours. Hot on the heels of last week’s fabulous white Nokia N9, we just received Samsung’s freshly minted “chic white” Galaxy Nexus thanks to our friends at Negri Electronics. This handsome phone — which is spec-wise identical to the HSPA+ version we reviewed last year — sheds the default gunmetal gray skin for a lovely satin white finish. Further differences include a chrome camera pod (instead of black) and a much smaller dot-pattern on the textured battery cover. The handset, which is running Android 4.0.2, goes by the name “yakjuxw”, meaning that unlike its official “yakju” cousin, it won’t be getting software updates directly from Google. Still, the bootloader is unlocked, making it relatively painless to switch ROMs. What’s most intriguing about this particular unit, however, is that it shipped with a North American charger instead of the expected UK adapter. Is this an unannounced US / Canadian market device? Go ahead and ponder that while you savor a taste of vanilla-flavored Ice Cream Sandwich in our gallery below, then watch our unboxing video after the break.
So, Google is finally making the move we’ve been expecting for some time now and bringing Chrome to Android. Now, you’ll need a device running Ice Cream Sandwich to get the new mobile browser up and running but, thankfully, we happened to have a Galaxy Nexus on hand. As you might expect, mobile Chrome (much like its desktop sibling) is fast — a little buggy perhaps, but fast. It isn’t, however, the fastest browser for the platform. Chrome Beta holds its own, but the standard Android browser, the stable version of Firefox and Dolphin HD all edged it out in SunSpider. Numbers don’t tell the whole story though, so head on past the break for more.