Sunday, February 28, 2010

Android 2.1 Update Coming to All US Android Phones

Taylor Wimber, the skipper over at Android And Me, has posted and article stating that Google is working with carriers to release the Android Eclair 2.1 update to all of today's existing Android powered smartphones.
"After talking with several inside sources familiar with the matter, I would like to report that every Android phone currently released in the United States will be receiving an upgrade to Android 2.1."
Now for the bad news. Mr. Wimber writes:
"Now let me cut to the bad news. Select Android phones will require a wipe when they are upgraded to Android 2.1. I actually only know of phones that will require a wipe, so it could include all of them (minus the Droid which is already on Android 2.0.1)."
Mr. Wimber goes on to state that he believes that the update will be rolled out to Android customers in late Q2, 2010. (Translation = Could be as late as the end of June or July)

Ok, so is a hard reset really that bad? I'm guessing that if your an Android gear head that you would rather have the official update on your phone and a reset won't be the end of the world.

I'm playing with a work issued Verizon HTC Droid Eris running Android 1.6 (Donut) and would like to have the newer OS so that I don't have to worry about compatibility issues with new application software over the next 24 months.

So how about it, Android fans? Are you ready for some "Google Goodness?"

[Via AndroidAndMe.com...]

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Verizon to Bring Skype to Popular Smartphones

At the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Verizon Wireless and Skype today announced a strategic relationship that will bring Skype to Verizon Wireless smartphones in March. The new Skype mobile™ product enhances Verizon Wireless’ smartphones for users who have data plans by offering a new way to call around the globe, while also giving hundreds of millions of Skype users around the world the opportunity to communicate with friends, family and business colleagues in the United States using Verizon Wireless.

The two companies have created an exclusive, easy-to-use Skype mobile offering for 3G smartphones. Verizon Wireless 3G smartphone users with data plans can use Skype mobile to:
  • make and receive unlimited Skype-to-Skype voice calls to any Skype user around the globe on America’s most reliable wireless network

  • call international phone numbers at competitive Skype Out calling rates
    send and receive instant messages to other Skype users

  • remain always connected with the ability to see friends’ online presence.

Initially, Skype mobile will be available on millions of best-selling Verizon Wireless 3G smartphones with data plans, including the BlackBerry® Storm™ 9530, Storm2™ 9550, Curve™ 8330, Curve™ 8530, 8830 World Edition and Tour™ 9630 smartphones, as well as DROID by Motorola, DROID ERIS™ by HTC and Motorola DEVOUR™.

John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless, said, “Skype mobile on Verizon Wireless changes the game. For Verizon Wireless’ more than 90 million customers, Skype mobile adds great value because we’re effectively giving customers with smartphones and data plans the option to extend their unlimited calling community to hundreds of millions of Skype users around the globe. And you’re not limited to using a single type of phone; we’ll have nine smartphones ready right at launch in March.”
Josh Silverman, chief executive officer of Skype, noted, “People want to take their Skype conversations with them wherever they go, whether it’s on a PC, TV or increasingly mobile phones. Verizon Wireless will give U.S. consumers the best Skype experience on mobile phones and will truly change the way people call their friends and family internationally.”
Customers interested in learning more about Skype mobile for Verizon Wireless smartphones can visit www.verizonwireless.com/skypemobile. Additional information about the service will be available next month.

Visit www.verizonwireless.com for more information about Verizon Wireless. Learn more and download Skype at www.skype.com.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7 Series

Earlier today, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer showed off the next generation of Microsoft's mobile operating system: Windows Phone 7 Series.

BARCELONA, Spain — Feb. 15, 2010 — Today at Mobile World Congress 2010, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the next generation of Windows® Phones, Windows Phone 7 Series. With this new platform, Microsoft offers a fresh approach to phone software, distinguished by smart design and truly integrated experiences that bring to the surface the content people care about from the Web and applications. For the first time ever, Microsoft will bring together Xbox LIVE games and the Zune music and video experience on a mobile phone, exclusively on Windows Phone 7 Series. Partners have already started building phones; customers will be able to purchase the first phones in stores by holiday 2010.
“Today, I’m proud to introduce Windows Phone 7 Series, the next generation of Windows Phones,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “In a crowded market filled with phones that look the same and do the same things, I challenged the team to deliver a different kind of mobile experience. Windows Phone 7 Series marks a turning point toward phones that truly reflect the speed of people’s lives and their need to connect to other people and all kinds of seamless experiences.”
Designed for Life in Motion

With Windows Phone 7 Series, Microsoft takes a fundamentally different approach to phone software. Smart design begins with a new, holistic design system that informs every aspect of the phone, from its visually appealing layout and motion to its function and hardware integration. On the Start screen, dynamically updated “live tiles” show users real-time content directly, breaking the mold of static icons that serve as an intermediate step on the way to an application. Create a tile of a friend, and the user gains a readable, up-to-date view of a friend’s latest pictures and posts, just by glancing at Start.

Every Windows Phone 7 Series phone will come with a dedicated hardware button for Bing, providing one-click access to search from anywhere on the phone, while a special implementation of Bing search provides intent-specific results, delivering the most relevant Web or local results, depending on the type of query.

Windows Phone 7 Series creates an unrivaled set of integrated experiences on a phone through Windows Phone hubs. Hubs bring together related content from the Web, applications and services into a single view to simplify common tasks. Windows Phone 7 Series includes six hubs built on specific themes reflecting activities that matter most to people:

  • People. This hub delivers an engaging social experience by bringing together relevant content based on the person, including his or her live feeds from social networks and photos. It also provides a central place from which to post updates to Facebook and Windows Live in one step.

  • Pictures. This hub makes it easy to share pictures and video to a social network in one step. Windows Phone 7 Series also brings together a user’s photos by integrating with the Web and PC, making the phone the ideal place to view a person’s entire picture and video collection.

  • Games. This hub delivers the first and only official Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including Xbox LIVE games, Spotlight feed and the ability to see a gamer’s avatar, Achievements and gamer profile. With more than 23 million active members around the world, Xbox LIVE unlocks a world of friends, games and entertainment on Xbox 360, and now also on Windows Phone 7 Series.

  • Music + Video. This hub creates an incredible media experience that brings the best of Zune, including content from a user’s PC, online music services and even a built-in FM radio into one simple place that is all about music and video. Users can turn their media experience into a social one with Zune Social on a PC and share their media recommendations with like-minded music lovers. The playback experience is rich and easy to navigate, and immerses the listener in the content.

  • Marketplace. This hub allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with certified applications and games.

  • Office. This hub brings the familiar experience of the world’s leading productivity software to the Windows Phone. With access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace all in one place, users can easily read, edit and share documents. With the additional power of Outlook Mobile, users stay productive and up to date while on the go.
Availability

Partners from around the world have committed to include Windows Phone 7 Series in their portfolio plans. They include mobile operators AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange, SFR, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telstra, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, and manufacturers Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC Corp., HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Qualcomm Inc. The first phones will be available by holiday 2010. Customers who would like to receive additional information about Windows Phone 7 Series and be notified when it is available can register at http://www.windowsphone7series.com.

To watch the full replay of Steve Ballmer’s press conference at Mobile World Congress, and to experience Windows Phone 7 Series through an online product demo, readers can visit http://www.microsoft.com/news/windowsphone.

Today's Microsoft press release was posted on the Microsoft website.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

HTC Touch Pro 2

The company I work for is continuing it's search to find the perfect smartphone to replace our existing Treo 700p and 755p fleet of phones. This past Friday, I found a new phone to take out for a test drive: the Verizon Wireless edition HTC Touch Pro 2!

The Touch Pro 2 is a Windows Mobile 6.1 powered phone that has one of the largest screens I've ever seen on a Windows Mobile phone. (The last two Windows Mobile phones I've used where the Palm Treo 750 and Palm Treo Pro.)

There are two things that you will immediately noticed as different with the Touch Pro 2 than other Windows Mobile phones. The first is the Touch Pro 2 is has a slider that reveals a roomy landscape keyboard that will make people who complain about cramped keyboards happy. The screen also tilts up toward the user. The second thing that you will notice as being different in this Windows Mobile phone is the the special sauce that HTC has added; TouchFlo. TouchFlo is HTC's customized user interface (UI) that added the much needed "cool factor" to Microsoft's mobile operating system.

To learn more about the HTC Touch Pro 2, visit the HTC website.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Motorola Devour Coming to Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless has announced that their next phone based on Google's Android OS, the Devour, will be arriving in March.

Verizon Wireless and Motorola, Inc. have announced the availability of Motorola DEVOUR in March. Motorola DEVOUR will be the first Verizon Wireless phone to feature MOTOBLUR, Motorola’s unique Android-powered content delivery service created to make wireless phones more personal and customizable.

MOTOBLUR is the first solution to sync contacts from work and personal e-mail services, including Gmail, with posts, messages, photos and more from popular sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. With MOTOBLUR, content is automatically delivered to the home screen and fed into easy-to-manage streams.

Motorola Devour's Key Features
  • Touch-sensitive navigation pad

  • 3.1” capacitive touch screen

  • Pre-loaded Google apps: Gmail, Google Talk, YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps with Navigation.

  • Android Market application store

  • MOTOBLUR Happenings Widget – automatically receive push status updates updates from popular social networking sites.

  • MOTOBLUR Universal Inbox – gathers texts, social network messages and e-mails into one home screen widget.

  • Back-Up and Security – Contacts, log-in information, home screen customizations, e-mail and social network messages are backed up automatically on the secure MOTOBLUR portal. The portal also allows customers to use the phone’s fully integrated aGPS to help locate the phone if misplaced. Remote wipe easily clears information from a lost device.

  • 8 GB microSD™ card pre-installed

  • Supported Bluetooth profiles include: A2DP, HID, HSP, HFP, AVRCP and GAP

Verizon Service Plans

To get the most from Motorola DEVOUR, customers will need to subscribe to a Nationwide Talk or Nationwide Talk & Text plan and a Data Package for smartphones. Nationwide Talk plans begin at $39.99 monthly access, and Nationwide Talk & Text plans begin at $59.99 monthly access. A Data Package for smartphones is $29.99 for unlimited monthly access.

Analysis

What I really like about the Devour is the new keyboard layout. For the Devour, Motorola chose to make the keys bigger and spaced them out more on the keyboard. In my opinion, this gives the user a better typing experience than what is available on the Motorola Droid or on screen virtual keyboards.

The downside is that the Devour is clearly intended to be a consumer device. I'm sure businesses will deploy plenty of the new Android-powered phone, however, without Google's adding more robust support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support, organizations looking to deploy Devour will continue to need third-party tools such as NitroDesk Touchdown.

For more details, visit the Verizon Wireless website.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Android 2.x Coming to Verizon HTC Eris


Now that I have a Verizon HTC Droid Eris attached to my hip, riding shotgun to my Palm Pre, I'm looking for information on when I might be able to get my hands on the latest release of Google Android.

According to SolSie.com, Verizon has come out and stated that they will provide an Android 2.-something upgrade for the Eris before the end of Q1, 2010. Go Big Red!

"Verizon spokesperson Brenda Raney said, "The Droid Eris currently using Android 1.5, can and will be upgraded to newer a Android operating system software in first quarter 2010. The enhancement will allow customers to continue to enjoy the powerful HTC Sense experience while also gaining the additional benefits of Google Maps Navigation."



[Via SolSie.com...]

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Palm Pre Plus, Pixi Plus Go On Sale Today

The new Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, introduced during this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vega goes on sale today for the Verizon Wireless cellular network.

Verizon Wireless, the company with the largest and most reliable wireless voice and 3G data network, announced today that Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus will be on store shelves and ready for purchase. The Palm Pre Plus will cost $149.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, and the Palm Pixi Plus will cost $99.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, each with a new two-year customer agreement. Buy a Palm Pre Plus or a Palm Pixi Plus and get a Palm Pixi Plus free after a mail-in rebate through Feb. 14.

Both Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus come travel-ready with a built-in 3G Mobile Hotspot – a Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared among five Wi-Fi-capable devices. The 3G Mobile Hotspot is the perfect family vacation companion, and at $40 for 5 GB and 5 cents per megabyte overage, it provides an allowance big enough for sharing with the entire family for downloading games, Internet access and more.

Paired with Verizon Wireless’ new Nationwide Talk or Nationwide Talk & Text plans and a $29.99 monthly data plan, Palm Pre Plus is the perfect tool for the busy family manager, while Palm Pixi Plus is the perfect complement to a youngster as part of a Family SharePlan. Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plans begin at $39.99 monthly access and Nationwide Talk & Text Plans begin at $59.99 monthly access. Nationwide Unlimited Talk Plans and Nationwide Unlimited Talk & Text Plans are available at $69.99 and $89.99 monthly access, respectively. Nationwide Unlimited Talk Family SharePlans start at $119.99 monthly access for the first two lines, while the Nationwide Unlimited Talk & Text Family SharePlans are $149.99 monthly access for the first two lines of service.

In addition, Palm Pixi Plus customers have more options for personalizing their phones with the new color Pixi Touchstone Back Covers. The covers will be available in pink, blue, green, orange and black for only $29.99 each at www.verizonwireless.com and in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rumor: iPhone 4G on Verizon in Late Q2

Today on the AllThingsD.com website, Apple hysteria continues with YAAiR (Yet Another Apple iPhone Rumor). Today's rumor is that Apple will bring a CDMA iPhone to Verizon Wireless for late Q2 or early Q3.
"iPhone OS 4.0. And the iPhone 4G–on Verizon.

That’s the word from Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek, who believes there’s “a good chance” we’ll hear about all three come next Wednesday.

The phone will be carried on Verizon and hence will operate on the CDMA network,” he asserts, adding, “however, it will also support European GSM and HSPA standards. An updated 4GS version that will support LTE is anticipated to arrive in June 2011.”

You're guess is as good as mine as to whether or not Apple will announce that the iPhone is coming to Big Red this summer or not, however, I suspect that Apple wants to:

1. Make more money selling the iPhone to more customers here in the US. Ending AT&T's exclusivity is a clear cut way to make that happen and Apple has already allowed exclusive carrier contracts come to an end in other countries.

2. AT&T is getting battered in the reputation department for having a really crappy network, regardless of whether or not iPhone users are to blame. In the minds of wireless customers, Verizon has a reputation of running a good wireless network.

[Via AllThingsD.com...]

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

FCC Still Looking for Answers from Verizon Wireless

In the on-going back and forth over changes in the fees that Verizon Wireless charges their customers for ending their contracts before the 2-year maturation point, the FCC feels that the wireless carrier still has some explaining do to.

During the CES show, that wraps up today in Las Vegas, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says that he is still looking for more details.

Sinead Carew, a reporter for Reutuers, writes:

"I thought that response raised more questions than it answered. The bureau is looking into that," he said but declined to say what the FCC's next move would be in that case. Verizon Wireless had cited increasing costs for the fee hike.

"There's a very real level of consumer confusion around these areas," Genachowski said.

[Via Yahoo News...]

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Palm CES Coverage

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show is under way in Las Vegas this week and Palm has used the event to make a big splash with the media and their customers. Here's a run down of what Palm has been up to!


Palm 2010 CES Presentation Video and Highlights

PreCentral has posted Palm chairman and chief executive officer Jon Rubinstein's CES presentation for your viewing pleasure if you are like me and somehow managed to not make it out to Las Vegas this year. The highlights of the presentation include:
  • Palm makes the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus official, Verizon only, and with tethering
  • Pre coming to SFR in France
  • webOS 1.4 coming in February with built-in Flash 10.1, Video recording
  • Palm reveals open web distribution of webOS apps
To check the video, head over to the PreCentral website.

New Phones, Wireless Carriers Announced

Many people will be happy to hear that Palm and Verizon Wireless will finally be bringing Palm webOS phones to market. Starting on January 25, Big Red customers will have their choice of the newly reformulated Palm Pre and Pixi smartphones known as the Palm Pre Plus and the Palm Pixi Plus. Why "Plus?" The Plus refers to the refinements over the older versions of the Pre and Pixi smartphones already available on the Sprint network.

The Palm Pre Plus will sport 16GB of RAM and a more streamlined form factor. As far as I can tell at this point, that simply means that the center has been removed from the front fo the Palm Pre Plus. Rather than use the Center button to zoom in/out from card view, you can simply flick up from the gesture area to zoom out of a card and then tap on the card you want to zoom back into full screen. The removal of the Center button is just one less thing that can break on the Pre form factor body and I welcome the change. And unlike the Sprint edition, the Verizon Wireless Palm Pre Plus ditches the glossy back plate battery door for the slick matte finished Touchstone charging battery door. Even if you don't plan on getting the super cool Touchstone charging dock, in my opinion, the matte finish of the Touchstone battery door is much easier to hold than the slippery gloss finish door.

The new Palm Pixi Plus uses the same body form factor as the older Sprint edition, however, the Verizon Pixi Plus will include an 802.11b/g Wi-Fi radio. (Shame on you Sprint for not allowing Wi-Fi in your Pixi!)

Verizon customers will also have access to a new App Catalog application called Mobile Hotspot that will allow the Pre Plus or Pixi Plus to act as a cellular Wi-Fi router allowing other near by Wi-Fi enabled device, like a netbook, to gain access to the Internet over the Pre or Pixi's EVDO cellular connection. Up until now, this was a trick reserved for devices like the Verizon Mi-Fi card. Kudos for Verizon for allowing their customers to share their data connections this way.

Palm will also continue to grow their presence overseas in the second quarter of the year when they bring Palm webOS phones to France on the SFR wireless network.

The last remaining question for US customers is when will Palm webOS devices be launched on AT&T? For right now, there is no official word from Palm on when webOS phones will appear on AT&T, however, Engadget has posted an article stating that AT&T's President and CEO, Ralph de la Vega, has gone on the record claiming that by the middle of the year, they will be carrying two unnamed Palm webOS devices. You'll have to stay tuned for the next few months until more details emerge on the AT&T front.

For more details on Palm's newest smartphones, visit the Palm blog.

Here Come the 3D Games!

Today Palm also unveiled 7 3D games specifically written to take advantage of the special graphics processor, called a GPU, inside the Palm Pre and Pre Plus smartphones. Combining the GPU, the new software development kit, released in beta form, and the software under pinning that are in the recently released Palm webOS 3.5.1 update, Pre customers can now play games on their smartphones that look just and play just as good as the games on Apple's iPhone.

Starting today, and via the Palm App Catalog, you can purchase and download the following 3D games:
  • "Need for Speed Undercover" (EA Mobile)
  • "The Sims 3" (EA Mobile)
  • "MONOPOLY" (EA Mobile)
  • "Asphalt 5: Elite Racing" (Gameloft)
  • "Let's Golf!" (Gameloft)
  • "Glyder 2" (Glu Mobile)
  • "X-Plane" (Laminar Research)
I'm excited about Palm's enabling of the GPU found in the Palm Pre and Pre Plus as it means that Pre customers no longer have to feel like second class citizens in the world of mobile gaming. While I looking forward to playing some of these games (I already purchased a copy of Monopoly this evening), I am still looking forward to playing games like Bejeweled and all of the great card and board games from Astraware, the games division of Handmark.

To learn more about today's announcement of the new 3D games for the Palm Pre and Pre Plus smartphones, visit the Palm website.

Ready! Set! Develop!

Lastly, Palm announced that the Palm Developer Center is now out of beta status and open to any application developer who wishes to write applications for the Palm webOS platform. Palm also announced that developers will have a choice of selling their applications through the Palm App Catalog or promote their applications by themselves, yet, they can still leverage the Palm over the air (OTA) distribution and installation service.

This is great news for the legions of web developers out there who know how to write HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code because, as I'm told, those three languages make up the bulk of the application development foundation for webOS applications.

For developers who are looking to write games and other applications that take advantage of the 3D rendering hardware and software found in webOS devices, like the Pre and Pre Plus, Palm is making the Palm webOS Plug-In Development Kit (PDK) available for use with the standard webOS Software Development Kit (SDK). According to Palm's press release, "[w]ith the PDK, developers can seamlessly integrate C and C++ code into their webOS apps, enabling new functionality such as 3D games."

Developers who wish to further explore the possibilities of the Palm webOS platform should visit the Palm Developer Center website.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Google's Nexus One Goes Live

Google's Nexus One smartphone has gone live and the details of the new phone have been posted on the Google website. Some of the key features include:
  • 3.7-inch 800x400 pixel WVGA touchscreen
  • 5MP digital camera with auto-focus and LED flash
  • UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA/GSM/EDGE cellular radio
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • 1400mAh removable battery
  • Android 2.1 Eclair mobile operating system
  • 512MB of RAM and Flash memory
  • 4GB microSD card included, support for upto 32GB microSD cards
  • Assisted GPS receiver and digital compass
Pricing and Availability

The new Google Nexus One is available now as an unlocked phone directly from Google for $529.00. You can also purchase the phone from T-Mobile for as low as $179.00 when you subscribe to a qualifying voice and data plan. Google is also reporting that the Nexus One will be coming to Verizon Wireless and Vodafone during the spring of 2010. No specific dates or pricing has been announced for Verizon or Vodafone at this time.

For more pricing and availability, visit the Google online store.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Motorola Enhances Keyboard on New Droid Phone



One of the things that I was complaining about in my recent Motorola Droid review was the way that the keyboard was setup on the Droid. Yes, the Droid has a full Qwerty keyboard, which is still better than an on-screen keyboard in my opinion, but the keyboard was essentially flat and it was hard to feel where one key was from the next.

In a photo that surfaced on Boy Genius Report over the weekend, it looks like Motorola is aiming to please by changing out and enhancing the keyboard in their next Google Android device, called the Motorola Droid Devour, which is headed to Verizon Wireless at some point this year.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com...]

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

CES 2010

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is set to kick off on January 7 in Las Vegas. Since the focus of the show is consumers, CES starts on a Thursday and ends on a Sunday.

According to the CES website, there are over 600 technology companies from the West Coast in attendance and event organizers are expecting 110,000 attendees for the trade room floor and workshop sessions. Tickets to the event are $200.

For more information about this year's CES event, please visit the CES website.

Rumors Aplenty

As usual for this time of year, there is a flurry of rumors about upcoming devices from a number of technology vendors. This year's rumors include: HTC's new touchscreen tablet device, Motorola's expected announcement of two new smartphones, Google's Nexus One smartphone press event on Jan. 5, with the device available from Google and T-Mobile.

Palm will also be at CES this year, however, it is expected that the focus will be on software development, and not on new device launches. However, there are those pesky Verizon Wireless Pre Plus and Pixi Plus rumors to deal with.

Apple won't be at this year's CES or MacWorld Expo events. Instead, it is widely rumored that Apple will hold their own press event on or around January 26th. Speculation is running wild in the face of mounting evidence that they will finally announce the table computer that has rumored to be under development for many years now.


[Via Boy Genius Report, Barron's Tech Trader Daily, Gizmodo, PreCentral]

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

BlackBerry Storm 2 Hands On Review

I have just wrapped up my test drive of the Verizon Wireless BlackBerry Storm 2 9550 smartphone. I’ve been testing out a selection of some of the more popular CDMA phones to help find the phone that will replace the corporate fleet of Palm Treo 755p’s that are in service at the company I work for.

The Hardware

The BlackBerry Storm 2, is Research In Motion’s second smartphone without a physical keyboard. The first was the original Storm. The BlackBerry Storm 2 measures up as being 4.43 x 2.45 x .55-inches and weighs in at 5.5 ounces. In practical terms, it is about the same size as an Apple iPhone. The Storm 2 has all of the standard hardware buttons that you would expect to find on any other BlackBerry smartphone. Unlike the buttons on the Tour, Bold, or Curve, the buttons on the face of the Storm 2 are concealed beneath a smooth sheet of plastic. The green, BlackBerry, escape, and red buttons are part of the bottom of the touch screen and the power and silence buttons are part of the top molding. Another nice touch is that there is a small, clear strip of plastic that protects the Storm 2’s 3.2MP digital camera lens and flash. The Storm 2’s battery door takes up the entire back of the device and snaps into place. Unlike the battery door on the Motorola Droid I recently reviewed, I don’t see the Storm 2’s door accidently being popped off during normal use.

One thing that I don’t like about the Storm 2 is that the bottom extends beyond the top of the device. This gives the Storm 2 a cool, rounded edge look, but I found it hard to reach up with my left index finger to turn the screen on when I was holding the device in my left hand. The uneven edges where less of a problem when I was holding the Storm 2 in landscape mode.


The Touch Screen

The big difference between the BlackBerry Storm 2 and the BlackBerry Tour is that the Storm 2 is a touch screen device. There is no physical keyboard on the Storm 2 and this may turn off some people who have used BlackBerry phones in the past and prefer the hardware keyboard. Part of the reason why I wanted to test the Tour and the Storm 2 was to compare the user experience between the two devices and to see if I could use a Storm 2 for the long haul.

The unique difference with the Storm 2 and other slate smartphones that don’t have hardware keyboards is that the Storm 2’s screen is “clickable.” Take for example the HTC Magic or the Apple iPhone 3G. Both of these devices have touch screens that dominate the face of the phone. When you tap an object on the screen, the screen remains stationary with virtually no tactile feedback. With the BlackBerry Storm 2, when you press down on the screen to tap an object, the entire screen presses down and clicks similar to the tactile feedback you get when you are clicking an icon or hyperlink on your computer with a mouse. You can hear and feel the click. It is a nice gimmick, but does it really help when you are trying to use an on screen keyboard?

After having played with the Storm 2, the Tour, and the Motorola Droid recently, I have found that the spacing of the keys on the keyboard are more important to me than whether or not the keyboard is virtual or not. I have found that keyboards on the Palm Treo Pro and Pre are very easy to use. Similarly, the keyboard on the BlackBerry Tour was a little too close – however, the shape of the keys did help improve my accuracy. For the Storm 2, Research in Motion decided to pack in four flavors of the virtual keyboard. They are: Qwerty portrait, Qwerty landscape, two-key portrait, and three-key portrait. I found the two and three-key portrait keyboards completely unacceptable. While I completely refuse trying to peck out a SMS or email message by pressing the same key two or three times to type a letter, the younger crowd who might buy the Storm 2 as their first smartphone may find these keyboard modes familiar, more comfortable even, if they are moving up from a flip phone. With the other two Qwerty keyboard modes available for use, I see professionals selecting the formats that more closely resemble the keyboards on their desks that the ones that resemble those found on flip phones.

After using the Storm 2’s Qwerty keyboards, I can say that I prefer the landscape keyboard the most. It offers the largest key cap clickable area of all the keyboards and the clickable screen did a good job tricking me into thinking that I was pressing a key on a physical keyboard. That isn’t to say that I didn’t make any typing mistakes, but I think that the Storm 2 offers the best on screen keyboard of all the smartphones I’ve tested so far. My one basic gripe about the landscape Qwerty keyboard is that when it is displayed, it takes up a significant portion of the screen; which can severely limit the space on the screen to see what you are doing.

The Software

The BlackBerry Storm 2 runs BlackBerry OS v5.0.0.320 (Platform 4.2.0.124), yet I didn’t find any noticeable difference from the BlackBerry Tour running BlackBerry OS v4.7.1.61 (Platform 4.1.0.81). One welcomed difference is that the Storm 2’s application launcher screen shows you the name of the application just below the icon. To see the name of an application on the Tour, you had to use the scroll ball to highlight the icon for the name to appear at the bottom of the launcher screen. For the most part, I didn’t see any major differences in the software bundled between the two BlackBerry’s I tested for this evaluation.

Conclusion

I have always stated that the decision to purchase a smartphone is very much a personal one. What works for me may not work for you. The BlackBerry Storm 2 is a capable BlackBerry smartphone that has many of the features made popular by Apple’s iPhone and you won’t have to jump ship from Verizon to AT&T to get a cool looking touch screen phone. As a BlackBerry, the lack of a physical keyboard may be a deal breaker for some corporate types, while others may welcome the increased screen realestate that comes from not having the keyboard. From a software standpoint, I found little difference between the Storm 2 and other recent model BlackBerry smartphones.

The BlackBerry Storm 2 is available now from Verizon Wireless for $279.99 when you purchase a qualifying two year service agreement. If you order the Storm 2 from the Verizon online store, Verizon will knock an additional $100 off the price tag. For more information about the BlackBerry Storm 2 9550 smartphones, please visit the BlackBerry website.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The FCC Isn't Happy With Verizon Wireless

In what was sure to take some of the "Merry" out of "Merry Christmas", DSLReports.com is reporting that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has responded to Verizon's explination of their early termination fees (ETF) for smartphones and charges of $1.99 for "phantom" web browser access without a data plan.

Karl Bode wrote the following for DSLReports.com:
"The problem is, the strange fee [$1.99 for simply launching the browser on a smartphone] has been documented for months by several customers, a number of newspapers, and even a Verizon whistle blower, who claimed Verizon knew about the junk fee but has done little to stop it because it generates millions in additional annual revenue. So Verizon's letter to the FCC denying all of this is raising a lot of eyebrows, as is Verizon's claim that a new $350 ETF for smartphones was to aid the poor (no, we're not kidding). In a response (PDF) posted this afternoon to the FCC website, [FCC Commissioner Mignon] Clyburn says Verizon's answers were "unsatisfying" and "in some cases, troubling".

The FCC document reads, in part:
"I am also alarmed by the fact that many consumers have been charged phantom fees for inadvertently pressing a key on their phones thereby launching Verizon Wireless's mobile Internet service. The company asserted in its response to the Bureau that it "does not charge users when the browser is launched" but recent press reports and consumer complaints strongly suggest otherwise. These issues cannot be ignored."

I'm glad to see that the FCC appears to be looking out for consumers. It is no secret that when you are dealing with the likes of the phone company or cable operators, or insurance companies for that matter, the consumer is on short end of the stick. Hopefully, the FCC will help balance the scales for consumers when dealing with not just Verizon Wireless, but also the other U.S. wireless carriers too.

You can read the full article on DSLReports.com.

"Can you hear me now?"

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com...]

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BGR: BlackBerry Tour 2 Hands On

The folks over at BGR have gotten there hands on another BlackBerry. This time we get to eyeball the upcoming BlackBerry Tour 2 9650, which is a CDMA phone from RIM that will likely replace the BlackBerry Tour on Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

The big changes for the Tour 2 seem to be a track pad and a speed bump. I really like the look of the Tour 2, however, I like the keyboard layout of the BlackBerry Curve 8530 better. Still, the Tour 2 is a nice upgrade for CrackBerry owners who haven't upgraded to the Tour platform yet.

Get all the details over at the BGR website.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com...]

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Research In Motion: YANO - Yet Another Network Outage

In case you missed it yesterday afternoon, CrackBerry users where all in a tussle because there devices temporarily transformed into door stops. Turns out that there was some more trouble at the BlackBerry network operations center (NOC), the massive data center where most BlackBerry Internet traffic is routed from.

CrackBerry.com provided a running commentary of what was going on:

"* Update 1: OK, preliminary word coming in is that it's a partial outage affecting North American carriers: BlackBerry Messenger and things like the web browser and apps that use a data connection.

* Update 2: BlackBerry data is no more. No emails, no web browsing, no BlackBerry messenger for it's North American users. Estimated time for a fix to come through is 3 hrs to a day, yes..a day."

At about 6:30pm last night, I had four "dead" BlackBerry phones in my house and four BlackBerry addicts roaming around the house in a daze. We where seeing the data outage on the Verizon Wireless and Sprint networks. Based on what CrackBerry.com was reporting, no carrier was spared in North America. The good news was that my Palm Pre was still working!

You can read the full article on CrackBerry.com.

[Via CrackBerry.com...]

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Friday, December 11, 2009

CW Opinion: Droids in the Enterprise

As you know, I'm currently working with a team to select the next smartphone for our corporate mobile phone fleet. One of the devices we are reviewing is the Motorola Droid for the Verizon Wireless network.

Computer World ran an opinion piece last month about some of the corporate short comings of the new Google Android 2.0 device. Author Michael Gartenberg writes:
"While there's a lot to like about the Droid, it's not the phone that most businesses are going to turn to. The hardware is good, including a lovely high-resolution screen, but the keyboard is definitely something you will want to try before you buy. For me, the keys are way too close together and much too flat to promote good typing. (Oddly, the virtual on-screen keyboard works much better for me)."

Mr. Gartenberg also has some issues with the Droid's built-in Microsoft Exchange support (via Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync), remote management, and device security.

You can read the full opinion piece on the CW website.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time: Droid Bests iPhone 3GS for Gadget of the Year

Ok, I really wasn't expecting the iPhone 3GS to get knocked off it's perch by a publication, especially by the likes of Time Magazine.

Apple fan site AppleInsider is reporting that Time has named the Google Android powered Motorola Droid the top gadget of 2009, beating the iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre.
"The Droid is a hefty beast, a metal behemoth without the gloss and finish of the iPhone, but you don't miss it," the magazine said. "The Droid's touchscreen is phenomenally sharp and vivid, it has an actual physical (not great, but good enough) keyboard, and best of all, the Droid is on Verizon's best-of-breed 3G network. It's Android's first credible challenge to the iPhone."

Not to worry iPhone fans, the 3GS ranked number four on the list. The Palm Pre didn't even make Time's list.

You can read Time's full Top 10 Gadgets of 2009 list on Time.com.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

BlackBerry Tour Hands On Review

As with the Motorola Droid that I recently reviewed, I had the opportunity to take Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Tour 9630 out for a few days for a test spin. The following is my hands on review of the Tour.

The BlackBerry Tour 9630 is a CDMA/GSM “world phone” that works on popular wireless networks both in the United States (CDMA and EVDO Rev A) and aboard on 3G networks (GSM/GPRS/EDGE). The Tour is currently available on the Verizon Wireless and Sprint networks. My demo unit is from Verizon and has been loaded with a Verizon/Vodafone SIM card. As far as I can tell, the Verizon and Sprint handsets are the same, however, the service terms will likely vary. There is also a version of the Tour available for sale without a digital camera.

The Hardware

The BlackBerry Tour is a candy bar styled smartphone similar to the BlackBerry Curve. The Tour’s dimensions are: 4.4 x 2.4 x 0.6-inches and weighs in at 4.58 ounces. To put that in perspective, it is slightly thinner, taller, and wider than the popular BlackBerry Curve 8330. The Tour has a half VGA+ 480x360 pixel display; which I found very easy to read; and is powered by a removable 1400 mAh battery.

All of the familiar BlackBerry hardware buttons can be found on the Tour. Just below the screen, is the button bar that is home to the call send/end buttons, the BlackBerry button, and the escape button. Nestled in the middle of the device is the trackball. After spending a few days using the trackball on the Tour, I thought it felt much sturdier than the one on my Curve. That said, I have heard reports from a local cellular retailer that their store has had a number of returns of the Tour early on in its distribution run due to faulty trackballs. The review unit that I used had no such trouble with the trackball. Below the button bar is the hardware Qwerty keyboard. Since this BlackBerry is slightly narrower than the one I’m used to using, I found the keys to be tight initially. The keys on the Tour, for all intents and purposes, have no space between them. After using it for about a day, I had gotten my keyboard bearings and was happily emailing away.

Walking around the smartphone, you will find the camera convenience key and the volume up/down buttons, the 3.5mm headphone jack, and the microUSB charging port. On the top of the Tour, is the ringer silence and screen lock button. On the left of the Tour is the voice command activation button and the speaker. On the back of the phone you will find the 3.2MP, auto focusing digital camera lens and flash. The phone’s mic is located on the bottom left of the phone.

Inside the Tour is 256MB of RAM, a microUSB card slot, a Bluetooth v2.0 radio supporting A2DP, and a GPS receiver supporting assisted, autonomous, and simultaneous modes. The GPS module also supports e911 and digital camera image geo-tagging.

Interestingly, unlike the Apple iPhone and Motorola Droid, the BlackBerry Tour does not feature a capacitive touch screen or a Wi-Fi radio. This could be a deal breaker for some, however, in my opinion, you get much better battery performance without those two features.

The Software

The BlackBerry Tour 9630 runs RIM’s Java based BlackBerry OS 4.7.1.61 (Platform 4.1.0.81). If you have used a previous BlackBerry running OS 4.3 or 4.5 you will have little trouble using OS 4.7, however, for this edition of the OS, there is a wire frame style to all of the icons. They are easy enough to figure out and the icon’s name appears at the bottom of the screen when you use the trackball to highlight and icon. Personally, I liked the old style icons better. The good news is that there are literally tons of themes for BlackBerry available for download from the Internet.



I was able to quickly and easily connect all of my Google Gmail accounts with the Tour. I was also able to use Notify Corp’s NotifyLink 4.5 client without trouble on this BlackBerry. If you want to sync the BlackBerry’s calendar with anything other than Microsoft Outlook, or a corporate messaging system like Microsoft Exchange using a BlackBerry Enterprise Server or Notify Corp’s NotifyLink Enterprise Server, you will need to get a third-party tool like GooSync for your Google calendar. Mac OS X users will need to download the BlackBerry Desktop Software for Mac or purchase Mark/Space the Missing Sync for BlackBerry.

Research In Motion has also opted to bundle DataViz Documents To Go Standard Edition on the Tour. Unlike the view only editions that come bundled with the Palm Pre or the Motorola Droid, the BlackBerry Standard Edition allows you to view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. You can also transfer files to and from the smartphone using the BlackBerry Desktop Software. I was able to read and update the same files that I used during my Motorola Droid test.

If you plan on using Documents To Go on your BlackBerry, you will want to install the free maintenance release from version 1.006 to 2.0. Heavy users will want to consider purchasing the Documents To Go Premium upgrade to gain access to the stand alone Documents To Go desktop synchronization application, native Adobe Acrobat viewing, the ability to create new Microsoft Office documents directly on the Tour, the ability to spell check Word documents, and additional document formatting features. One thing that I did find annoying about the upgrade process to version 2.0 of Documents To Go was the requirement to uninstall the bundled version and reboot the phone prior to the upgrade. While it isn’t the end of the world, it bugged me to have to leave the browser, uninstall the phone, and then return to the upgrade web page. (You did remember to bookmark the upgrade page before uninstalling Documents To Go, right? See how annoying that is!) Documents To Go 2.0 Premium for BlackBerry retails for $69.99, and is on sale for $29.99 until December 20, 2009. For more information about DataViz Documents To Go for BlackBerry, visit the DataViz website.

Just for the Fun of It

All work and no play is boring. So I also played with some of the fun aspects of the BlackBerry Tour. Social media junkies will be happy to hear that the Tour comes included with a Facebook and My Space clients. (Facebook users will want to upgrade to the latest mobile client version right away.) The camera took nice pictures at a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. The music player application worked well and I was able to watch Iron Man which I converted from DVD to an Mpeg-4 file.

I also installed some other free applications from the BlackBerry App World, including USA Today Mobile, The New York Times Global Edition, Google Maps, TweetCaster, UberTwitter, The Weather Channel, and Fictionwise eReader. (Fictionwise eReader can be downloaded from the eReader.com website.)

Conclusion

The BlackBerry Tour is a great upgrade for previous BlackBerry owners. If you are looking to upgrade from another smartphone platform to the BlackBerry, you will want to sync your old phone to Microsoft Outlook before making the jump to BlackBerry to ensure that all of your data makes it over. The BlackBerry Tour, like most other BlackBerry phones does not have a touch screen. That detail, and the lack of Wi-Fi may be a deal breaker for some, however, you will be repaid with longer battery life. If I don’t charge my Palm Pre, or the Motorola Droid I was testing every night, I would wake to find two phones with dead batteries in them while the Tour was still ready to work with about 45-50% battery life left in it.

The BlackBerry Tour is a solid business smartphone, however, if you are using a Microsoft Exchange email server, you will need to install a BlackBerry Enterprise Server or other third-party middleware server such as Notify Corp’s NotifyLink Enterprise Server since the BlackBerry does not support the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol as do most of today’s other smartphones.

Pricing and Availability

The BlackBerry Tour 9630 is available now from both Verizon Wireless and Sprint for $149 with a qualifying 2-year service agreement. For more information about the BlackBerry Tour, visit the BlackBerry website.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BlackBerry Tour On Deck


Following closely behind the Verizon Motorola Droid, I have gotten my hands on a BlackBerry Tour 9630!

The BlackBerry Tour is currently available from both Verizon Wireless and Sprint. Unlike the other CDMA/EVDO smarphones in their line ups, the Tour is considered a "World phone" because it also has a GSM radio and SIM card slot. The demo unit that I have from Verizon was shipped out with a Vodafone SIM card in it.

Just like the Moto Droid, I'll be testing this phone out as a replacement phone for my company's fleet of Palm Treo 700p and 755p smartphones. I'll have a short review of the BlackBerry Tour 9630 ready at the end of my demo period.

If you are interested in digging into all the details about the Tour 9630 now, you will want to check out the BlackBerry website.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Verizon Motorola Droid Hands On Review

The Motorola Droid is the latest Google Android powered smartphone being offered by Verizon Wireless. The Droid went on sale back on November 6, and joins Verizion’s other Google Android phone, the Droid Eris, in their smartphone line up.

The Droid is the first Google Android smartphone that I’ve used and I was interested in seeing what this phone is capable of doing and to see how it would measure up to other smarpthones that I’ve used in the past.

The Hardware

The Motorola Droid is a 6oz 2.4 x 4.6 x .5-inch slider smartphone. The face of the Droid is dominated by an expansive 3.7-inch 480x854 pixel WVGA display, that is formatted to support 16:9 widescreen video. (I watched about 15 minutes of Iron Man on Droid and the display looked crisp and clear.) The capacitive TFT touch screen is both bright and easy to read. Along the top of the device are a standard 3.5mm headset hack and the power on/off button. On the left side is the microUSB port used to charge the phone or connect it to your computer as a USB mass storage device. On the right side, you will find the volume up/down buttons and the camera application button. Below the screen is the mic, and on the back you will find the 5.0MP camera sensor and the speaker.

Moto Droid next to a Palm PixiTucked away inside the Droid are the EVDO Rev. A, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, and a Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g radios. The Droid also sports an assisted GPS receiver. Powering the smartphone is a 1400 mAh removable battery. There is also a microSDHC card slot at the top of the battery compartment where you will find a 16GB microsSDHC card pre-installed. If you plan on swapping out microSDHC cards or batteries regularly, or if you tend to toss your phone in a pocket, purse, or messenger bag for example, you will want to keep an eye on the battery compartment door. Unlike other smartphones I have used in the past, the Droids battery compartment door does not latch lock into place. I can see a lot of people loosing their battery doors and Verizon should be keeping their spare parts inventory well stocked.

Similar to other recent smartphones, Motorola has included an accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and an e-compass.

The Droid features a physical keyboard which I prefer over on screen keyboards like those used on the Apple iPhone and BlackBerry Storm 2. That said, the keys are, for all intents and purposes, completely flat. In my opinion, this makes the keyboard harder to use than it needs to be. I much rather have a physical keyboard that has raised or rubberized keys like those on the BlackBerry Curve, the Palm Treo, or the Palm Pre. At the end of the day, the best keyboard layouts and orientations are a personal choice. I would recommend that you stop at a local Verizon retail outlet and play with the keyboard before you buy so you know you will be able to live with this phone for the next two years.

The Software

The Motorola Droid, as stated earlier, is powered by the Google Android 2.0 operating system. Because the operating system was written by Google, it should come as no surprise that Droid supports most of Google’s web services, including: Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Talk (Instant Messaging), Search and Search by Voice, and YouTube. Support for Google Voice is not included on Verizon’s phone.

Main app launcher screenAndroid Phone appDroid software stackThe Android contacts and calendaring applications worked as you would expect them to and I did not experience any problems using them. On the demo unit that I was working with, I did not see a dedicated tasks or memos application. Since the Droid is the first Google Android phone that I’m using, I’m not sure if Google just didn’t include those applications, tucked the functionality into the email and/or calendar applications, or whether or not Verizon chose to not include those applications. A quick search of the Android Market provided me with a number of free and commercial replacement tasks and memos applications. I just find it odd that these applications aren’t included by default on the phone.

I was happy to see that Android 2.0 supported not only Google Gmail accounts, but also POP, IMAP, and Microsoft Exchange accounts. Additionally, you can also sync the Droid with a Google or Microsoft Exchange calendar. There are a few things that I though where confusing and annoying about email and calendaring on Droid. The first is that the Droid has two email and two calendar applications. The application “Corporate Calendar” is the application that you use to configure a Microsoft Exchange server calendar using Exchange ActiveSync. You use the “Calendar” application to access your non-Exchange calendar. For this test, I used one of my Google Calendars. I was surprised to learn that I was unable to add a second or third personal calendar. I have three calendars that I look at throughout my day: business, personal, and family. I configured the Droid to primarily sync with my “business” Gmail account and Android automatically linked the same account’s calendar to the phone. I was able to add additional Gmail and POP email accounts, but I was unable to add a second or third calendar. Researching this issue in online Android discussion forums, it appeared that this could be a bug in the calendar application. I would like to see Google fix this limitation in the near future.

I’m a heavy user of email, calendaring, web browsing, and word processing. The browser that has been included with Droid rendered pages as well as Safari on my iPod touch with iPhone OS 3.1.2 and my Palm Pre with webOS 1.3.1.

DataViz Documents To Go 2.0 for Android

No Smartphone Fanatics smartphone review would be complete until I take DataViz Documents To Go out for a test drive.

Docs To Go launcherDocs To Go File menuDocs To Go File Open windowUnlike other smartphone platforms that you may have used in the past, Motorola’s Droid does not ship with Documents To Go pre-installed on the device. You will have to use the Android Market to download and install the free Viewer Edition of Documents To Go. The free version of Documents To Go allows you to view any recent Microsoft Word and Excel documents that you receive as an email attachment or side load on your microSD card. When you step up to the Full Version of Documents To Go 2.0 for Android, you gain the ability to view Microsoft PowerPoint documents and Adobe Acrobat documents. You also gain the ability to create and edit Microsoft Office documents. DataViz gives you the flexibility to choose the file format for your new Office documents: Office 97-2003 or Office 2007. (The file format selection is an application preference that effects new documents and is not selected when you perform a File > Save As… command.)

Another nice feature included in the Full Edition of Documents To Go is DataViz's implementation of predictive word look ups. Typing ‘fi” in a new Word document causes Word To Go to pop open a small row of possible words that start with the letters “fi” and I can quickly pick “first” form the list of words that I wanted to type. I like this implementation because the possible word selection list is not popping up in front of what you are typing to type. In other words, in my opinion, this is a much cleaner, less annoying way to work with predictive word look ups. The Full Version of Documents To Go also did a fantastic job of loading and rendering my test Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Acrobat documents. You can purchase the full version of Documents To Go for $29.95 in the Android Market, however, after registering the free Viewer Edition, I received an email from DataViz inviting me to upgrade to the full version for $9.95. If you are going to be using the Motorola Droid to work with Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents, you will want to purchase this upgrade. At $10, the full featured version of Documents To Go 2.0 is a bargain price for all the functionality you get.

All the Rest

I also spent some time playing with the fun aspects of Droid. The 5.0MP digital camera takes some nice pictures once you get used to the auto-focus feature. The picture viewer and music players worked well. I was able to play all of the non-DRM’ed iTunes purchased tracks that I loaded on the Droid's microSDHC card. (I sided loaded the music. If you want to sync playlists right out of iTunes, you will need to install a third-party application like DoubleTwist.)

I also loaded some of the free news applications like The New York Times, USA Today, and The Weather Channel; all of which worked well. Android comes pre-loaded with a native Facebook client (I didn’t test Facebook) and a free Twitter client, TwitterTweet, kept in up to date on all of the mobile computing Twitter-ers that I follow. I also downloaded and installed the free WiFi OnOff widget which saved a lot of time, and screen taps, to turn Wi-Fi on and off quickly. And lastly, avid readers will be happy to learn that the Fictionwise eReader Pro application works on the Android 2.0 platform, however, you will need to manually install the software from the eReader.com website, not the Android Market.

Conclusion

After spending a little more than a week getting to know the Motorola Droid and the Google Android 2.0 mobile operating system, I feel that the Droid is on par with the Apple iPhone 3G/3G s, BlackBerry Storm or Storm 2, and the Palm Pre. Based on the way I used the phone, I feel that it could tackle all of my business, personal, and social mobile computing needs. Google Android 2.0 is easy enough to use and the installation of third-party applications over the air (OTA) from the Android Market worked without any trouble at all.

Pricing and Availability

The Verizon Motorola Droid smartphone is available now at Verizon Wireless retail locations, online from the Verizon Wireless website, and through corporate inside sales reps. Consumers should expect to pay $299.99 with a new 2-year contract or with a 2-year contract extension. If you order the Droid from the Verizon Wireless website, you will receive a $100 discount. You may be able to find even better pricing from Amazon or Best Buy if you are willing to put the time in comparing online and brick and mortar retail location pricing.

For more information about the Motorola Droid, please visit the Motorola website. For pricing and service contract information, please visit the Verizon Wireless website.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Consumerist Calls Verizon Droid Packaging "Cheap"

The Consumerist, the online extension of the Consumer Reports magazine, has an article up on their website titled, "Cheap Package Design Tricks People Into Dropping Motorola Droid On Floor". I didn't get to unbox the Verizon Droid that I'm currently testing. (The box, with the phone inside it, was handed to me horizontally.)

One customer is writes about their experience to The Consumerist:

"I got my new Verizon Motorola Droid last week. But when I opened the box, the Droid fell to the floor. Apparently I had the box turned the wrong way. There is now a dent in my phone. It's not a major dent. The phone still works. But it's still not cool that because of a design flaw, I have to live with a damaged phone right from the get-go."

Read the full post on The Consumerist website...

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