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Samsung Charge…on Verizon's LTE Network is Superfast

11 May

I have been using the Samsung Charge for over a week now. This is the first LTE phone that I have used. I primarily used the phone in the Puget Sound Area and also in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here is why I like the Charge:

  • LTE – The fastest “True” 4G phone on the market
  • Camera – 8 MP  and its video conferencing capabilities are truly amazing
  • Processor – Faster than my iPhone 4G
  • 4.3″ Display

I prefer the Samsung Charge to the HTC Thunderbolt on Verizon because of the form factor and the ease of use. The HTC phone may have a few more bells and whistles but the Charge is newer and I know that the Charge provides faster access to Verizon’s LTE network given the history that Samsung has with Qualcomm (chip supplier and 3G/4G technology developer).

Verizon and Samsung have priced the phone at $299 with a 2 year contract. Naturally, I expect the price of the phone to drop to $199 within 3-6 months.

For the customer that need the super fast Internet connectivity that LTE offers, I recommend the Samsung Charge.

How To: Watch CWG closing ceremony on your phone

14 Oct

After the spectacular opening ceremony for the Common Wealth Games in New Delhi, everyone is waiting with bated breath for tonight’s closing ceremony. And to make matters more interesting, you can (or so the organisers claim) watch tonight’s ceremony live on your phone. Yup, it will be streamed live and it is being claimed that it would work even on EDGE networks. If the Asian Games of 1982 brought colour TV to India, the government is hoping that Games will mark the advent of 3G. Lucky if you have a 3G connection or else we’d suggest you find yourself a Wi-Fi hotspot with decent browsing speed. Once that is taken care of, direct your phone’s browser to m.zoomi.com m.zoomi.in, where we are told the ceremony will be streamed. We will give it a shot for sure, but we’d keep a backup (our beloved television set) handy.

Binatone launches Rs 9,000 Android tablet

19 Sep

There is yet another player in the Indian smartphone/tablet market, Binatone. Many remember the brand as being associated with televisions and other consumer electronics in the nineties. Well, they are back and now are betting on tablets and smartphones running Android.  And they are fighting big on price. Most impressive of their offerings is a rather natty looking HomeSurf 8″ Touch tablet, which is almost as slim as the iPad, runs Android 1.6, has an 8 inch resistive screen, Wi-Fi, 2 GB onboard storage, 128 MB RAM and is powered by an ARM 11 667 MHz processor. But the killer is the price: Rs 9,000, which is less than half that charged by other Android tablets in the market today. We might just be looking at the first attempt to make the tablet mainstream, even if it does depend on an older version of Android!

In a presentation mailed to us, the company made a pretty stiff argument favouring the Android platform and also showed off its Android-based HomeSurf range of smartphones, MIDs, netbooks and tablets.  What is not as good is the fact that the company has opted to go with an archaic version of the OS – 1.6. Still, we guess that if it brings the prices down, there will be takers, which should in turn, pull down prices of other products (witness what Micromax has done in the cellphone market). Interesting times!

Vapourware, eh? $35 Android tablet arriving in January 2011

8 Sep

This could be India’s ultimate tech achievement. If the Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal surprised all us cynics by actually showing the world a prototype of the $35 7-inch Android tablet, there are numerous reports coming in that that the device might actually see the light of the market in January 2011 will go a long way in blowing away the “vapourware” speculation surrounding the device. According to the reports, the contract for manufacturing the tablets has been awarded to one of India’s leading tech companies, HCL, and the first batch of tablets will be seen in the market as early as January 10, 2011. Interestingly, no mention has been made of the price at which these tablets will be made available to students and the general public, but even if the price tag is double that of the proposed $35 one, it would be one heck of an achievement.

Yes, we were cynical about it. Yes, we are longing to eat humble pie. Bring it on, HCL.

Vlingo takes on Google Voice Actions, goes free – and does not need Froyo!

15 Aug

All right, we literally love the sound of this. Vlingo, the folks who have given us some really super voice to text software, have made their Android application free. What’s more, unlike Google Voice Actions, you do not need a Froyo-running phone to use it – it works just dandy on Android 2.1 and 2.0. The decision comes within a day of Google releasing Voice Actions, ensuring that the Android platform is set to see quite a battle in the sound-to-text sphere.

While Dave Grannan, President and CEO of Vlingo, congratulated Google on Voice Actions on the official Vlingo blog, he also tactfully pointed out the advantages Vlingo offers over Google’s offering:

“For all the appeal of Voice Actions, we think we still have something compelling to offer the market by virtue of Vlingo being an independent provider of voice-enablement: namely we don’t have to preference any particular content. So just as our product runs across all smartphones (iPhone, Android, RIM BlackBerry, Nokia Series 60, Windows Mobile), we also mash up with content other than Google content. Our current Android product leverages Facebook and Twitter for example (and here’s a hint—look for more such mash ups coming out very soon in our Vlingo for Android product). And of course we also have other features not yet present in Voice Actions, such as our SafeReader feature that reads your incoming text and email messages to you.”

In case you have been living on a really non-appy planet (Vlingo is also available for the iPhone and BlackBerry), Vlingo is an app that lets you send texts, mails, dial numbers, update Twitter and do a few more nifty things by just speaking into your handset. Well, it actually works. So well that if you have an Android handset running version 2.1 or above, we are going to mark you down for suspected insanity.

World Cup App Countdown: FotMob

10 Jun

On our football app countdown to the World Cup, we now look at FotMob, a football app for Android. We have downloaded version 5.0  of the free version (ad supported) of the app and have seen plenty to impress us.

First off, a confession – this ain’t really a World Cup-only app. FotMob does have a World Cup avatar too but we went for full app that is designed to give you coverage of most important football matches all over the world. So you can hang on to the app even after the dust settles in South Africa, and use it to track the latest in the Premier League, the La Liga or the Serie A (and a host of others), depending on your tastes and preferences.  For the 2010 World Cup, well, simply select the tournament.

FotMob serves up news about the tournament using FIFA.com’s RSS feed which is detailed enough for those who want to know what is happening.  There is also regular stuff like fixtures and tables and the option to choose favourite teams, but where the app really shines is in its live coverage. Yes, we know the World Cup has not started yet but based on what we have seen of the app in the Premier League, it works very well indeed, giving score and event updates from matches, and best of all, displaying updates on your Android device’s notification bar – push football, here we come. All this is a neat, finger-friendly interface.

Of course, it has flaws. We could not see team profiles or options to include other RSS feeds. And it seems to take forever to start on an EDGE connection, as well as load complete news stories. But if it is live football you are looking for, this app is going to take some beating. Incidentally, an iPhone version of FotMob is available too on the App Store, but heck that costs $0.99 and well, no notification bar. Need we say more?

Original Prince of Persia in App Store, for just $0.99

7 Jun

We have lost count of the number of Prince of Persia titles that have been released on various platforms over the past few years. Heck, there’s now even a silver screen avatar of the leaping, running and sword-waving royal resident of Persia. But for many gamers, the REAL Prince of Persia has always been the 2D platformer that Jordan Mechner developed for the Apple II way back in 1989 (yep, it was THAT long ago). Well, that very game is now back with a bang – in all its 2D platformy, leaping and bounding glory – on the Apple App Store, thanks to the folks at Ubisoft.

You once again get to play the Prince and fight your way through dungeons and guards and all sorts of booby traps to save your beloved princess from the clutches of the wicked Vizier Jaffar – all within an hour. The game is available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. And at just $.099 is a bargain. Play it, and discover that you do not need 3D, cutting edge graphics or fancy sound effects to enjoy a game.

Google Buzz on Android 1.5/1.6 handsets!

14 Feb

We have great news for all those Android 1.5/1.6 users who have been feeling left out of Google Buzz because it runs only on Android 2.0 and above. Well, the fact is that you can Buzz away merrily even on Android 1.5/1.6 devices – and we are not talking of walkarounds like using the Shout Out option in latitude or constantly fiddling with your status messages. Nope, we are talking of buzzing in the purest and simplest sense. Best of all, it costs not a penny. We used it on our HTC Hero (which is alas, still awaiting Android 2.0+ goodness from HTC) and it worked a treat.

All you need to do is download the latest edition of the Dolphin browser, which is available free of cost from the Android Market. Once you have got the browser running, just head over to  http://buzz.google.com, upon which you will be informed that Google Buzz requires Android OS version 2.0+ and iPhone version 3.0+ and that “older OS versions may be able to access some features but are not officially supported” followed by a link saying “Continued on an unsupported device.” 

Just click on the link and you are all set. After a brief Web page-loading period, you will be able to see your Buzzes as well as those of people you are following, set locations for your Buzzes and of course, make your own Buzzes and comment on those of others. We could not figure out a way of  adding links smoothly, but heck, even this is more than adequate for those just looking for simple Buzzes and the option to follow others. Oh, and the links Buzzed by other users open up just fine in the browser. 
Which suits us just fine, even though it ain’t gonna stop us from constantly querying HTC about that firmware update to get our devices upto Android 2.0+

GMaps 3.0: now your friends can see you

4 Feb

Google has updated its mobile maps app and this time the main goody on offer is the fact that you and your friends can see exactly where you are on a map. Yep, get the app going and your friends who are logged into the app at the same time will pop up all over the map, avatars, status messages and all.

The app, in best, Google tradition, remains free and can be downloaded by pointing your phone’s browser to http://google.com/latitude. Of course, it is not available on all phones so do check out if your device is compatible here before getting into download mode. Nope, it ain’t available for the iPhone yet, so we already know at least one thing that’s going to be in the next firmware update.

We are reviewing the app in detail for the magazine so we cannot really reveal too much here. But we will deign to unseal our lips to say that it actually works, and in case you are the paranoid types, you can even manually set your location on the map. You can also hide from certain friends. 

Mind you, there’s no way you are going to be hiding from Google. The company that is dedicated to fighting evil will know exactly where you are every time you log into Google Maps. Now, was that a chill running down our spines?

Google announces image ads for mobile

24 Apr

After AdSense on mobile, Google has announced the release of image ads for mobile Internet. Similar to image ads on Internet, the mobile version will have one image ad per page and will be smaller than the desktop version to fit on the mobile screen. The only requirement is that these image ads should link to a mobile-friendly web page.

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