Well, it’s finally here. Sort of. It’s been a long and winding road for BlackBerry 10, and as has been RIM’s way, the company continues to out new BB10 details just a bit at a time. As you may recall, we got a good look at RIM’s original Dev Alpha hardware back in May, and were able to swipe our way through a good bit of BB10 a month later. It’s BlackBerry Jam time now, though, and RIM gave us a more thorough look at the OS than ever before, and we got to see it running on a new Dev Alpha B handset. We couldn’t pry loose any details about the hardware inside the new dev phone (other than it’s got a BB10-standard 1280×768 screen), but we did get a few fresh facts about the software running on it. Once again, RIM reminded us that the software we saw was not the final version, but that shouldn’t deter you from reading on past the break and seeing a video of BB10 in action.
At long last, the iPhone 5. We just got our hands on Apple’s latest smartphone following its unveiling in San Francisco, and suffice it to say, it’s a beautiful thing. Some might say we’ve been waiting for this moment since October 4th of last year, but another crowd may say that the real next-gen iPhone has been on the burner for much longer. Indeed, this is the first iPhone since June of 2010 to showcase an entirely new design, but it’s obvious that Apple’s not going to deviate far when it comes to aesthetics.
Apple followers will aptly recall Steve Jobs’ quote in July of 2010 — you know, that one about “no one” wanting a big phone, with current CEO Tim Cook seated just feet from Steve as the phrase was uttered. Now, however, Apple’s inching ever closer to that very realm, with an elongated 4-inch display that enables new apps to take advantage of more pixels (1,136 x 640), while legacy apps can still operate within a familiar space. The phone itself doesn’t feel too much different than the iPhone 4 and 4S; yes, it’s a bit taller, but by keeping the width the same, you’ll utilize a very familiar grasp to hold it.
In typical Apple fashion, even the finest details have been worked over tirelessly. The metal feels downright elegant to the touch, and the same line we’ve said time and time again applies here: there’s no doubting the premium fit and finish when you clutch one of these things. Yeah, the headphone port’s now on the bottom, but avid Galaxy Nexus iPod touch users shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting.
It was only a matter of time before ASUS refreshed its line of Ultrabooks with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge chips, but the truth is, the company needed to improve a little more than just the CPU model number. If you recall, the Zenbook UX31 ushered in a modern metal design and unbeatable speed, but our enthusiasm waned after spending a week with the flat keyboard and temperamental touchpad.
Well, friends, it looks like Chairman Jonney Shih and co. were listening: the outfit is about to bring four of its leaked Zenbook Prime laptops to the US. These include the 11-inch UX21A, which you see up there, along with the 13-inch UX31A, UX32A and the UX32VD — essentially, the UX31A with discrete graphics. Though different configurations are bound to vary, they all bring retooled, backlit keyboards, refined trackpads and, of course, Intel’s third-generation Core processors. And while the lower-end UX32A is stuck with 1366 x 768 resolution, every other model — yes, even the tiny UX21A — will be offered with a 1080p IPS display.
You remember that Galaxy S II? A phone so good they launched it, well, a whole load of times. But after seeing phablet cousins and LTE variants, the true handset sequel is finally here. The Galaxy S III is moments away from being outed in front of journalists and Sammy’s business partners in London, but in advance of the big reveal we were given a few hours to acquaint ourselves with the new star away from the crush of the show floor.
And what did we make of it? In short, Samsung’s tried to bring its Galaxy S series in line with (and in some ways, further ahead of) what its team-up with Google accomplished. It’s added some new quad-core Exynos processing juice, a 4.8-inch, HD Super AMOLED screen and a handful of Galaxy S III-only features in an earnest bid to maintain its place at the top of the Android pile. You’ll find our detailed impressions and a hands-on video just after the break.
You may remember a certain, somewhat anticipated cloud service finally coming in to land in recent days. That wasn’t the only news in nebular computing last week, however: perhaps in anticipation of Google’s long-rumored Drive service, Microsoft made some updates to the Windows Phone app for its own offering, SkyDrive. This comes not long after the release of desktop SkyDrive applications for Windows and OSX, all suggesting that Redmond’s hoping to cut itself as large a slice of the cloud-storage pie as it can, preferably while others are still taking their seats at the table. We spent some time with the latest quiver of tools from Microsoft, to see how they’ve progressed.
It’s been a long time in the making, but the once-mythical cloud storage service known to all as Google Drive is real, and it made its official debut today — and even though Goog’s taken plenty of time to make it available to the masses, our impatience certainly got the worst of us, and we immediately started digging through the new service. So what does this online storage option entail? Will it make you delete your Dropbox and SkyDrive accounts and jump for joy? Or has Google simply waited too long to start playing the game? Read on to find out our first impressions.
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.
Olympus has embraced the camera designs of yesteryear for several generations, from its first Micro Four Thirds models to last year’s E-P3. But now the Japanese camera maker is stepping up its retro game, announcing a brand new line of Micro Four Thirds cams. Meet the OM-D. A dramatic departure from the more modern-looking PEN cameras, this new line of mirrorless models, specifically the E-M5, in many ways duplicates the design elements of the 1970s-era OM System. The first consumer camera in that SLR lineup, the OM-10, served as clear inspiration for the slightly boxy, black or silver and black magnesium alloy digital model we have today. We were able to spend some time with the Olympus E-M5 before tonight’s announcement, and were very impressed with what we saw. Jump past the break for our impressions and an Olympus-guided video walkthrough, and thumb through the gallery below for a detailed look at the company’s answer to the Fujifilm X-Pro1.
The Samsung Series 9 debuted at an odd time, before “Ultrabook” was a buzz word, and when a 2.8-pound laptop was novel enough to warrant a $1,649 price tag. A year later, it returns at an even more pivotal moment: Ultrabooks are cropping up by the dozens, and while their specs are similar to what the original Series 9 had to offer, they cost hundreds less. So with that as the backdrop, Samsung just announced a pair of slimmed-down, redesigned Series 9 laptops: a 13-inch remake, priced at $1,399 and up, and a new 15-inch form number that will cost $1,499-plus when the two go on sale next month.
Though consumers are likely to draw comparisons between that 2.5-pound 13-incher and the umpteen other ultraportables hitting the market, Samsung isn’t positioning the Series 9 laptops as Ultrabooks, but rather, premium, top-tier machines. Still, for something that’s not an Ultrabook, the brothers Series 9 certainly look the part: both pack Core i5 processors, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSDs, six-hour batteries and backlit keyboards — Ultrabook-like specs if ever we’ve heard them. Even the 15-inch model is missing an optical drive, and isn’t much larger than the last-gen Series 9.
What separates them from your garden-variety $900 box, though, is a solid unibody aluminum design and a heartbreakingly beautiful display: a 1600 x 900 panel with a matte finish (!) and 400 nits of brightness. But is that worth shelling out an extra few Benjamins? We’ve just spent weeks playing with an early, pre-production version of the 13-inch model, and while we’re going to withhold final judgment until we review a production-grade system, we already have quite a bit to say about the design. So grab a warm beverage, settle into your comfiest chair and meet us past the break for an in-depth preview.
Kiss that old “New Xbox Experience” goodbye — the Xbox Dashboard just went full Metro. Microsoft teased the console’s latest overhaul back at E3, promising to “change living room entertainment forever.” The following months saw leaks, previews and betas, all leading up to today, the eve of the Xbox 360′s Fall Dashboard update. Is the new dash the game-changer it hopes to be? Hit the break, and we’ll find out together.
It’s been a long time coming, but the patience has paid off with Sony’s A77 finally getting its first pro review. Sure, the $1,400 cost of entry (body only) will weigh heavily on even the most enthusiastic cameraman conscious. But, what’s a few hundred dollars when it comes to a camera that Popular Photography says has “radically changed the world of DSLRs”? It seems only the rival Canon 7D holds a candle to this would-be king, besting Sony’s latest when it comes to noise and performance at higher ISOs. However, the A77 wins on its all-around charm, with a 24.3 megapixel Exmor APS-C sensor, articulated LCD screen, world-first OLED EVF and impressive video-shooting chops. Video-wise, that top dollar gets you a high-end performance of 60fps at 1920 x 1080 with the fast phase-detection auto-focus we’ve also seen on its predecessors, the Sony A55 and A33.
Popular Photographydoes add a single caveat to the largely very positive conclusion: video enthusiasts should probably hold tight to see what Canon and Nikon counter with. Especially if you’re in possession of multiple lenses. Aside from that, what’s stopping you? Dig in to all the nitty-gritty details below, and we’d advise cutting down on those impulse eBay purchases — this magnesium-alloyed beauty will certainly make a financial dent when it lands, if not a physical one.
Autumn is fast approaching — and you know what that means: it’s round about time for an Xbox Dashboard update. Sure, we got a peek of Microsoft’s upcoming harvest back at E3, but the good folks from Redmond invited us to take a closer look at what they’re calling the “most significant update to the Dashboard since NXE.” Senior project Manager Terry Ferrell was on-site to walk us through an early engineering beta and show us how an updated Metro UI, Bing search and deeper Kinect integration is going to change the way folks manage their entertainment content.
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Even back when it was just a sketch we were suitably intrigued by Sony’s Tablet S. Then it was the “S1,” a name that, indistinct as it was, still had more character and mystery than the unfortunately generic moniker it will ship with. Still, a dull name can’t obscure the most distinctive design we’ve yet seen in an Android Honeycomb slate, an aerofoil-like shape inspired not by a flying machine, but a rather more pedestrian folded magazine.
But, the result is a tablet that’s considerably thicker than the current king of the Android hill, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (not to mention the iPad 2), a chunky design that isn’t always as hand-friendly as it looks. Is this the glossy, perfectly-paginated future of tablet design, or is it just a misshapen slate with a broken crease and shattered dreams? Read on to find out.
Note: at this time Sony was able to provide a device with final hardware, not software. So keep in mind this preview covers only the hardware, and that discussions of software and performance are liable to change.
Something big’s been brewing over in Carlsbad, and the time has finally come for it to be revealed to the world: the Razer Blade. The onyx aluminum beaut before you is the culmination of over three years of work by a stealth team of engineers — many of them absorbed from the former OQO team. Despite being only 0.88 inches thick (thinner than another 17-incher we know…), the svelte number still packs a punch with a 2.8GHz Core i7-2640M CPU and GeForce GT 555M graphics replete with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory. All that graphical horsepower will splay your exploits on a 17.3-inch LED 1920 x 1080 full HD panel with an HD webcam nestled above. Rounding out the package is 8GB of RAM, three USB ports (one of the 3.0 persuasion), HDMI-out and a 60Wh integrated battery. And it could all be yours for $2,799 when it debuts in Q4 of this year.
That’s dandy, but we’re more stoked on the 480 x 800 LCD trackpad just to the right of the backlit keyboard. It works either as a multitouch-enabled input device or as an additional display for in-game info when the urge to slay demons with an external mouse strikes. North of that hotness lie ten fully customizable buttons, both in appearance (courtesy of a separate LCD) and in function. The keys and trackpad were last seen on a keyboard in a galaxy far, far away, and are running a custom Switchblade UI — inspired by the company’s oh so sexy Switchblade concept that we saw at CES. And just like the concept, Razer’s used a custom lighting panel to ensure you can see those keys clearly from an angle — people don’t look straight down at their keyboards, after all. Follow on past the break for more impressions, video and PR.
When it comes to cameras, digital SLRs are a breed all their own. Many DSLR owners don’t upgrade their bodies often — if at all — and even fewer would consider a switch to a competing camera system, especially after investing in a handful of high-end lenses. Manufacturers need to push innovation even further to target this segment of the market — when some cameras cost thousands of dollars and already offer excellent performance, simply releasing a body with more megapixels and HD shooting options won’t prompt photographers to pull out their credit cards. With its excellent 24.3 megapixel sensor and high-res OLED electronic viewfinder, however, Sony’s $1,399 Alpha A77 may just be the DSLR upgrade you’ve been waiting for. We spent a few days with a pre-production A77 paired with Sony’s brand new 16-50mm f/2.8 lens ($1,999 in an A77 kit), and were very impressed with what will undoubtedly be a worthy successor to the well-received A700. Jump past the break for our initial impressions, along with plenty of still photo and HD video samples.
Make no mistake, Microsoft isn’t playing coy in the smartphone market any longer. The folks in Redmond are making a significant jump forward in the mobile arena, announcing that the upcoming version of Windows Phone, codenamed “Mango,” will be heading to a device near you in time for the holidays. As its competitors have raised the bar of expectations to a much higher level, Microsoft followed suit by adding at least 500 features to its mobile investment, which the company hopes will plug all of the gaping holes the first two versions left open.
We received a Samsung Focus preloaded with the most recent developer build (read: not even close to the market release version) and we had a few good days to put it through its paces. It’s still far from completion, as there were several key features that we couldn’t test out; some weren’t fully implemented, and others involved third-party apps that won’t be updated until closer to launch. Yet we don’t want to call this build half-baked — in fact, it was surprisingly smooth for software that still has at least four months to go before it’s available for public consumption.
At the risk of sounding ridiculously obvious, we’re mighty interested in seeing the final result when all is said and done this holiday season. As a disclaimer, we can’t guarantee that the stuff we cover here will actually look or act the same when it’s ready to peek out and make its official introduction in Q4; as often happens, features and UI enhancements are subject to be changed by the Windows Phone team as Mango gets closer and closer to release. Let’s get straight to brass tacks, since there’s a lot of details to dive into. It’d be best to grab a large beverage (we’d recommend a Big Gulp, at least), find your most comfortable chair, and meet us after the break.