Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sony Cyber-shot T 500

We got a look at Sony's new HD-shootin', 10.1 megapixel Cyber-shot T500 today, and it seems to do what it says on the box. There was no Memory Stick in the display version, so we couldn't test out any HD recording, but the touchscreen interface did seem responsive, and mode switching from stills to video is a snap. Perhaps it was the lighting we were under, but the large LCD did seem to flicker a bit, and wasn't stunningly bright either, but otherwise we're big fans of the build quality of the device. Fashioncam this is not -- there's some heft, bulk and sharp edges here that will keep it away from your skinny jeans -- but the T500 is a fine entry from Sony, and at $399 it's pretty well priced for what it can do.

Friday, February 6, 2009

HTC Shift

HTC Shift Unvield

The lucky lovelies over at managed to acquire (let’s ask no questions) a pre-production HTC Shift for five days, and proceeded to examine it both from the perspective as a compact, Vista-running UMPC and as a large, Windows Mobile-running PDA. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the Shift although impressive doesn’t manage to succeed 100% in both categories; what is surprising, though, is that it appears HTC have made some bizarre concessions which in certain cases render the Shift less useful than a far cheaper device.

Vista, it seems, has been HTC’s main priority, and in that capacity the Shift functions as expected. With an 800MHz processor and 1GB of RAM it’s never going to be accused of running too fast, but the 40GB drive is healthy and the screen - running at a native 800 x 480 - clear and bright. What’s less impressive is the PDA flipside: the Shift runs a pared down version of Windows Mobile 6 that doesn’t even take advantage of the VGA screen, chopping off the sides with black bars (as in the image above). Similarly bizarre is that while in WM mode the only connectivity method is HSDPA - Bluetooth and WiFi, accessible to Vista, fail to show up in the connectivity manager. That means you could be in your office, surrounded by rich, syrupy WiFi, yet unable to connect because cellular signals don’t reach you.

Of course, it’s possible that one or more of the confusing decisions HTC has made will be changed in the production version; as it is, the Shift looks to be a passable UMPC but not the dual-mode, best-of-both-worlds device we were initially promised.

Serenata music mobile phone

Samsung and Danish Audio equipment manufacturer, Bang & Olufsen have joined forces to bring us the Serenata music mobile phone. They seem to have managed to put together a unique and stylish mobile with music quality that we can just hope lives up to their brand names. This phone is going to be all about the music.

"Since we started our first co-operation with Bang & Olufsen, we have only been confirmed in our belief that both companies share a passion for innovation and consumer-focused technology. Serenata is another example of new ways to think of the mobile phone. I'm proud to say that our customers can see a true innovation of music player and mobile phone as we have opened a new era of mobile phones with Serene two years ago", says Geesung Choi, President of the Telecommunications Network Business in Samsung Electronics.

"We have high expectations to Serenata, as it is a result of our joint vision to constantly push the boundaries, and bring unique and exciting products to our customers", states Torben Ballegaard Sorensen, CEO of Bang & Olufsen.

The Serenata is built as a contrast between cool aluminum and a warm soft touch lacquer that gives an impression of elegance, slimness and craftsmanship. It uses a scroll wheel system for accessing menus and options. And in case you're a first time user of the phone, which you obviously will be, the companies have incorporated a 4 minute simulation to help you get accustomed to the usage of the phone. The Serenata has an integrated loudspeaker system and you can also listen to your tunes via the dedicated stereo EarSet 3. This mobile is capable of reading formats that include MP3, WMA Lossless 9.1, AMR and AAC. It uses an application called BeoPlayer that can access and organize all music files on the PC and transfer them to Serenata. Also through the Samsung PC studio, the users can synchronize the contacts, calendar and to-do list from their computer onto Serenata via Microsoft outlook.

Samsung's Serenata is a GSM handset that is 3.5G enabled with HSDPA connectivity and has 4GB of internal memory. It weighs in at 136g and has a 2.26 inch TFT-LCD display with a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels and 256k colors. It is Bluetooth enabled, although we have no confirmation on if it is A2DP compatible, but judging from the kind of music capabilities and the manufacturers themselves, I'm quite sure it will be. For PC connectivity it uses USB v2.0 high speed.

The price and availability of the Serenata is yet to be disclosed.

Willcom D4 - world’s first Intel Atom powered UMPC and runs Vista

Willcom D4 (aka Sharp-built WS016SH) will be the world’s smallest QWERTY device that is capable of running Windows Vista Home Premium SP1, when it’s making its debut in Japan in June this year.

The Willcom D4 measures only 188 x 84 x 25.9mm and weights 470grams. The little device runs on the Intel 1.3GHz Atom processor, making its size so small, with pretty low power consumption and comparatively better battery conservation.

The Willcom D4 features a sliding / tilting 5-inch, 262k color, LED-backlit 1,024 x 600 touchscreen and a 64-key QWERTY keyboard. It’s got 1GB built-in RAM, a 1.8-inch 40GB disk, 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, microSD slot, HD audio codec with mono-speaker, n memory.

It comes with the Opera browser and equipped with wireless connectivities including the Japanese PHS (W-SIM) and 802.11b/g WiFi. And there is an optional Bluetooth companion handset that allows you to make calls over W-SIM.

The little device will be sold in Japan for about $1,254 and you’ll get to pay less if you’re willing to be bound by a 2-year contract. Willcom is reportedly experimenting with Android, so this device would possibly be released in an alternate form later this year or early 2009.


The much maligned Nokia 770 is the subject of our next adventure in reviews. In my years of dealing with technology there is one major truism: no electronic product exists (and probably never will) that meets everybody's needs. This couldn't be more true with the Nokia 770. I hold it in high regard but it has some major limitations. But accepting those limitations and working within them I came to appreciate its functionality even more! On my recent trip to Australia I watched 4 complete movies on my "personal DVD player" (a.k.a. the Nokia 770 + ripped DVD's to MPEG-4 format... yes, I own the movies) on one battery charge. I had no less than 12 other passengers lusting over it simply for that functionality.

Physically the Nokia 770 is a solid beast... the buttons feel good and work well (although I rarely use the hard keys on the front... the touch screen takes care of that). The fit and finish of the product, although not glitzy, is clean and simple. No flash but a very sturdy product. I like the cover for the fact that I felt I could man-handle it without worrying about the large screen getting damaged in my briefcase. The screen is stunning. I have done a fair number of slideshows for people and the images really pop off the screen. The dedicated buttons along the top of the product are great.

They allow you to quickly jump to 'full-screen' mode and to zoom in on a picture or web page... which works flawlessly by actually zooming in rather than rescaling the text only. The touchscreen is great.... remind me why more manufacturers don't use touch screens???? They are so intuitive.

I believe that which makes it strong also hampers it's usefulness. Although it came out with a good basic set of applications, given the appealing form factor there has been an outcry for more functionality. There are some incredible apps that have been written by talented people... a media player, a mapper that will work with a GPS signal (although you must supply the map data) and some pretty fun games. The process to acquire these and maintain them are not consumer-ready.

The Good:
This product excels at a few things. It delivers a clean, quick, true web experience over WiFi (except it's flash version is a bit outdated and doesn't play embedded movies e.g. YouTube). It's screen is very clear and pleasant to gaze upon. It handles a nice variety of media (music, videos, pictures) in many popular formats. Its size is a perfect blend of portability yet big enough to see real content. The VoIP functionality is on par with a PC.

On the Fence: Battery life is approximately 7 hours depending on usage and screen brightness (pretty respectable but borderline.... mainly because if standby time from a full battery is about 3 hours.

So don't walk away from it for a couple days and expect much life from it unless it's plugged in. Open source software is exciting but to raise this product out of the niche of useful device to us geeks and a viable contender to the PMP's and UMPC's of the world the software has to be integrated or brain-dead-easy to install (e.g. Mac OSX software update panel). The current system of repositories is intuitive to those familiar with Linux and few others. Using RS-MMC cards is a bit unfortunate as the current trends it either mini-SD or micro-SD. You can buy them on the web but I would rather share cards with other devices.

The Bad:
Viewing Flash and embedded video on web pages isn't keeping pace with the web. To update the OS you have to wipe your entire system (yes, there is a backup utility but COME ON!). Web only accessible over WiFi or a paired Bluetooth phone connected to the internet via GPS (slow, expensive and pairing of even some high end Nokia's was unsuccessful!). Email and IM is tough without an integrated QWERTY keyboard (yes, I have an external Bluetooth keyboard but it's bigger than the product!) Also, in contrast to Nokia's consumer offerings that work very cleanly and reliably... pre- configured out of the box, the Nokia 770 requires a fair amount of hand holding and reading of the website to take full advantage of the product

Bottom line....
I think this is a great product to have sitting on your coffee table or on your jaunt to the local coffee shop to quickly access info from the web without whipping out your laptop or running back crying to your desktop PC.

I give it a 7.5 out of 10 stars. I use mine often and dream of the few tweaks to make it a kick-arse addition to any household and/or mobile lifestyle.

Xda Flint Handheld By O2 For The Education Market

Personally I’m a big fan of handhelds, but I think netbooks are better and these devices already outran them. However, O2 doesn’t think that and they re-branded the HTC Advantage X7510 into the Xda Flint, and now the handheld has a new modern and more stylish design with a detachable keyboard.

The Xda Flint is based on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, and it features an angled 5-inch touchscreen, a 3.0-megapixel camera with autofocus and flash, built-in GPS, 16GB of internal flash memory, Wireless LAN 802.11b & g, Bluetooth 2.0, GSM/GPRS/EDGE Quad-band (850/900/1800/1900), and also HSDPA.

According to O2, the Xda Flint is destined for youngsters & education market, as the handheld can read eBooks, take e-notes, and it has access to the Internet. Also, the re-branded Xda Flint supports Microsoft’s Direct Push Email, Internet Explorer, and Opera 9 browser, which were all well optimized for the touchscreen use.

What do you think? Would you choose this type of handheld over a netbook? Well, for there moment there no words about pricing or availability, but I can’t say that I’m not waiting for the Xda Flint to enter on the market.

Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
Modern, stylish design
Detachable keyboard
Angled 5” screen touch screen
3.0 megapixel color camera with autofocus and flash light
In-Built GPS
MP3 and Video playback
Wireless LAN 802.11b & g
Bluetooth ® V2.0
GSM/GPRS/EDGE Quad-band (850/900/1800/1900)
Supports Microsoft Direct Push Email solution
Internet Explorer and newly-included Opera 9 browser - optimized for touch-screen use
16GB of internal flash memory to hold more files than before

e-Loam F7 UMPC Looks Delicious While Being Functional

It has been a while since I’ve seen an interesting UMPC therefore I’m very glad that I ran onto the Shenzhen e-Loam F7. This handheld has an attractive design, but like always the most important thing about a device is its functionality. The e-Loam F7 UMPC is based on Windows XP, a 1.2GHz VIA C7-M proc, 1GB of RAM, and a 7-inch touchscreen.

The spec list continues with a 0.3-megapixel webcam, WiFi, Bluetooth, 2-in-1 card reader, but I have a couple of doubts regarding the Shenzhen e-Loam F7 – in the product description you can find a “8G BSANISK hard disk” , but I think this is a typo and the handheld features a 80GB hard-drive. The other doubt about the e-Loam F7 UMPC is that I don’t know if it features an optical mouse or not.

I guess there is still enough time to find out about it, and also I would definitely like to hear something about pricing and availability.

Nokia N97 Unvieled

Nokia has just unveiled it’s newest high-end N-series smartphone, the N97. It does have some great features, like the 640×360 3.5-inch touchscreen with tactile feedback, QWERTY keyboard and a slider form-factor.

The N97 features an internal memory of 32GB, expandable to 48GB via it’s microSD memory card slot, it’s connectible via HSDPA and WiFi. The 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss glass camera can capture DVD quality videos at 30fps and take good pictures.

It’s battery can play music for 36 hours continuously, which is good for a smartphone. Unfortunately, like most Nokia cellphones, it does look bulky and it’s really pricy, at almost $700 without taxes and subsidies. Expect the N97 in stores in H1 2009.

Asus eee keyboard

After a not-so-promising start, CES 2009 just kept on getting better and better. I am glad to say this thanks to the Asus HTPC keyboard concept which could represent the best product announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show. Some have called it the “Eee Keyboard”, some have said that this is a netbook, but you can call it “the most functional keyboard ever”.

The Asus HTPC keyboard features a 5-inch built-in display, a 1.6GHz Atom microprocessor, 1GB or RAM, Windows XP Home Edition (yeah, we didn’t understand this either), 16GB or 32GB SSD, Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Wireless HDMI, 2x USB 2.0, VGA, and headphone and microphone ports.

For the moment we only know that it’s going to be available in the next 3 to 6 months as Asus wants to make sure that there is nothing wrong with their keyboard. The pricing remains undisclosed, but we expect it to be just a little too high. I guess it remains to wait until Asus makes an official annoucement about pricing and availability.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

i-mate Ultimate 6150 (PDA phone)


Windows Mobile 6.0
520Mhz Processor
2.0 MP Video/Camera
FM Stereo Radio
256 ROM/128 RAM


Width: 2.3 inches
Length: 4.6 inches
Thick: .7 inches
Weight: 5.3 oz
Screen: 2.8 inches


GSM Unlocked
Quad-band Phone
3G 850/1900/2100
Bluetooth 2.0
Wifi 802.11b/g/e/i
Micro SD


Pocket Word
Pocket Excel
Pocket Powerpoint
Pocket Outlook
Pocket Explorer
Media Player
Voice Notes

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Asus Boasts 9.5-Hour Battery Life In Latest Netbook

By Wahid Polin
February 3, 2009 05:00 AM

Asustek on Monday introduced an Eee PC netbook that the company claims offers a faster Intel Atom processor with the ability to run 9.5 hours on a single battery charge.

Asustek is taking preorders for the 1000HE through its Facebook site, which requires a membership to the social network to access. People who order through Asustek's group get $25 off the system's manufacturer suggested retail price of $400. The computer maker didn't say when the system would ship.

Startup Transera provides on-demand contact centers
According to Asustek's promo site, the 1000HE is powered by an Intel Atom N280, which has slightly better performance than the previous N270 chip. In addition, the chip consumes a maximum of 2.5 watts, which contributes to the longer battery along with an LED backlit LCD screen.

The system has a keyboard that's 92% the size of a standard keyboard and sports a 10-inch display. The machine weighs 3.2 pounds and ships with Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi support. The 1000HE also comes with a 160-GB hard disk drive and 10 GB of online storage at no additional charge.

The new mini-laptop includes Asus' Super Hybrid Engine, which allows people to control the CPU to lower performance to conserve power. To achieve 9.5 hours of battery life, the user would likely have to lower CPU performance, dim the screen, and turn off the system's Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and camera, according to the gadget blog Gizmodo.

Asustek launched the netbook category with the release of its first Eee PC in the fall of 2007. Since then, every major computer maker, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Lenovo, has begun offering competing products.

Netbooks are the fastest-selling segment of the PC market. Shipments of the lightweight, ultraportables are expected to quadruple to 139 million units in 2013 from 35 million this year, according to ABI Research. The mini-laptops typically have screens of 10 inches or smaller, run either Windows or Linux, and cost less than $500. Many machines cost as little as $300.

Monday, February 2, 2009

BlackBerry Strom

Fetures availavle:

Wireless email
Camera (3.2 MP)
Video Recording
BlackBerry® Maps
Media Player
Built-in GPS
Corporate data access

Size and weight:

Size and Weight 4.43"/112.5mm (Length)
2.45"/62.2mm (Width)
0.55"/13.95mm (Depth)
5.5 oz/155g (Weight)

Data Input/Navigation:

SurePress™ touch screen
On screen keyboard: portrait SureType® and Multi-tap, QWERTY landscape

Voice Input/Output:

3.5mm stereo headset capable
Integrated earpiece/ microphone
Built-in speakerphone
Bluetooth® v2.0; mono/stereo headset, handsfree, phone book access profile, and serial port profile supported
M3 (Rating for hearing aids (PDF))

Media Player:

Video format support: MPEG4 H.263, MPEG4 Part 2 Simple Profile, H.264, WMV
Audio format support: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, WMA ProPlus


High resolution 480 x 360 pixel color display
Transmissive TFT LCD
Font size (user selectable)
Light sensing screen


Polyphonic/MIDI ringtones
MP3 ringtones
Vibrate mode
LED indicator

Approximate Battery Life:

Up to 15 days (Standby time)
GSM: 5.5 hours, CDMA: 6 hours


Expandable memory – support for microSD™ card
1GB onboard memory
128 MB Flash (flash memory)


RIM® wireless modem
Tethered modem capability

Email Integrations:

Works with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Microsoft® Exchange
Works with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for IBM® Lotus® Domino®
Works with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server for Novell® GroupWise®
Integrates with an existing enterprise email account
Integrates with existing personal email account
Integrates with optional new device account

Device Security:

Password protection and screen lock
Sleep mode
Support for AES or Triple DES encryption when integrated with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server
FIPS 140-2 Compliant (FIPS Validation in Progress)
Optional support for S/MIME

Wireless Network:

North America: 850 MHz GSM®/GPRS networks
North America: 1900MHz GSM/GPRS networks
Europe/Asia Pacific: 1800MHz GSM/GPRS networks
Europe/Asia Pacific: 900MHz GSM/GPRS networks
Dual-Band: 800/1900 MHz CDMA/Ev-DO networks

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Smartphone From Dell? Just Maybe

Published: February2, 2009

The compact keyboard of Research in Motion’s BlackBerry turned mobile e-mail messaging into an addictive pastime. The slick touchscreen on Apple’s iPhone turned consumers on to phones as pocket-size Web portals.

Richard Drew/Associated Press

The Axim by Dell suffered from lackluster demand.

Now Dell and other personal computer makers face a major test as they contemplate entering the mobile phone market: can they come up with that next great feature that will turn their products into the latest object of desire rather than the latest flop from a clumsy PC maker grasping at a new market?

For months, rumors have swirled that Dell — like its rivals Acer, Lenovo, and AsusTek — will jump into the booming market for sophisticated smartphones. While brutally competitive and fashion-conscious, the mobile phone market holds an obvious attraction for PC makers: high growth at a time when computer sales are expected to decline for just the second time in the last 20 years. In addition, the devices could open opportunities for PC companies, weighted down by low margins, to team up with telecommunications companies on profitable business and media services.

Computer firms, however, have suffered a string of defeats when it comes to consumer devices. And even savvy phone makers like Nokia, Motorola and Palm have struggled in the smartphone arena, which is dominated by R.I.M. and Apple.

Phones “are very different and much tougher than PCs,” said Ed Snyder, a telecommunications industry analyst with Charter Equity Research. The small devices place a premium on engineering and require attention to unfamiliar details like the inclusion of sensitive, always-on cellular radios. “It’s a much more difficult engineering problem, especially on a mass scale,” Mr. Snyder said.

Dell has been working on phone prototypes for months and evaluated both Google’s Android software and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system to run it. Recently, some reports have suggested that company, which is based in Round Rock, Tex., will unveil a smartphone next month at a prominent mobile technology conference in Europe.

But people knowledgeable about the company’s plans say the company does not plan to announce a product anytime soon. Dell continues to debate whether its current design, said to be based on an ARM processor like the one in the iPhone, will prove unusual enough to impress consumers and worthy of putting into the market.

Meanwhile, the company is also exploring how to create a more powerful product that could ship in 2010 and introduce new features capable of challenging rivals. For example, Dell could put its Zing music software, originally intended for use in a line of portable music players, onto a smartphone.

Dell’s consumer device efforts are led by Ronald G. Garriques, who used to run the mobile device division at Motorola, and Dell has a team in Chicago, made up in part of former Motorola executives, dedicated to making smaller devices like netbooks, a popular type of bare-bones laptop.

Dell declined to comment Friday on “rumors and speculation.”

It is unclear if Dell could make a ground-breaking move in the mobile phone market, although the company has shown off several sleek new computers, including one of the thinnest laptops ever made. Dell’s new attention to design has helped it gain ground in the consumer market.

Dell’s previous struggles with consumer devices have become the stuff of legend. It shipped a hand-held digital assistant called the Axim, but dropped the device because of lackluster demand. The company entered and exited the television market in short order.

Dell has also ventured into the market for MP3 music players. Its first device, the Dell DJ, was a bigger dud than the Zune from Microsoft. A second player, based on Zing, was sent to product testers last year but was never commercially released. “Dell has been nursing along a digital music effort for a long time that did not bear fruit,” said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, which analyzes the technology industry.

Phones present a fresh challenge.Dell may have an edge over its PC rivals, however, given that a vast majority of its existing computer sales go to large corporations and government customers, said Roger Entner, an industry analyst with Nielsen Research. The phone could be tied to Dell’s computers and other services like e-mail management.

“If any PC manufacturer can come into the phone market, it’s Dell,” Mr. Entner said. But it will not be easy. “Dell has to show on the business side the same level of integration that Apple has shown on the consumer side.”