Nice is a pretty overused word and not necessarily the one I’d use to market my own app, but it’s probably about as commonplace as “gorgeous” and “beautiful” when it comes to App Store descriptions.
taskList ($1.99) looks to be another one of the many apps that tries to help you manage your life better. It’s above the basic level of an app like Do It (Tomorrow), but it’s certainly not as powerful as a full fledged task manager like Things. taskList makes it easy to create and group tasks, but not much more than that.
I’m not jumping the 2Do ship to give taskList a try, but maybe one of our dear readers may find it, well, nice.
The Motorola Charm was announced for T-Mobile almost two months ago.
Since then, a few things have happened. It was apparently delayed, then slated for an August 25th release (which, as it turns out, was true). There was also some info on pricing, but thankfully that $189.99 price tag turned out not to be true. And, just one week ago, Telus launched it in Canada before T-Mobile did in the US.
But the day when you can get a Motorola Charm on T-Mobile has finally arrived. If you choose to buy direct from TMo, the Charm will set you back $75 (after a $75 mail-in rebate) with a new contract.
However, you can currently get it from Wirefly for free with a $59.99 per month contract. Strangely though, if you already have a T-Mobile contract, Wirefly will sell you the Charm for $50, and you’ll still have to renew your service agreement.
If you wish to buy the phone unsubsidized (without any contract involved), it will cost you $270 from T-Mobile and $330 from Wirefly.
So if you’ve been anxiously waiting for this rather interesting square-ish candybar touchscreen QWERTY Android-powered handset to become available in the US, now is the time to go grab it.
- T-Mobile’s Motorola Charm possibly delayed?
- Google Nexus One pricing: $180 with contract, $530 without
- Motorola FlipOut to be launched by Orange UK. Motorola Charm in the wild
- Motorola Dext / Cliq previewed. Low price apparently confirmed
- T-Mobile’s Motorola Renew shows its green face
‘Be A Part of the Revolution’
Armed with the iPod on my iPhone, I am almost always enthralled by this device. I hardly listen to music any other way. Being a huge music fan, I am always open to music suggestions. Since I decided to break the chain and explore beyond the boundaries of music I knew growing up, I am constantly seeking ways and means of discovering new music.
What better way to do so than on a device I can hardly leave the house without when I am on the move.
A UK based Company Frimby Limited recently released such an app with a very cool and unique description: ‘A GeoSocial Music Discovery’
Ever been in a cafe, bar, public space or subway and seen someone walking around with their white ear buds and thought: I wonder what their listening to? Your problem is solved.
WITH SongStumblr, you can ***discover*** what nearby people are listening to and ***share*** out your own music to the people near you: social music on a personal level.
Geosocial music discovery allows users to discover what nearby people are listening to and to share their music to the people in their surrounding. This concept has finally come to the iPhone and iPod Touch, but with a different twist.
Read the rest of Review: SongStumblr v1.0 For iPhone – GeoSocial Music Discovery
A method to gain root access on your shiny new Motorola Droid 2 has been made available by the ever resourceful folks over at XDA-Developers. However, it’s not simple.
Also, unlike on the Droid X, there have been no successful attempts to boot a custom recovery image onto the Droid 2. That effectively means that custom ROMs are out of the question, at least for now. Which isn’t much of a surprise really, since Motorola are guarding their bootloaders like they’re filled with gold or something.
So why would you root? Well, to be able to use certain apps which require such privileges. Or to get rid of bloatware, although the XDA folks advise you not to uninstall any preinstalled apps just yet, but wait for a custom recovery image first. Because if by any chance you break something, that all but guarantees your device won’t boot.
Back to the root procedure. ADB knowledge is required, so this method certainly isn’t meant for newbies. Also, as always with these things, there’s a risk that you may brick your device. And if that happens, you’re pretty much on your own.
If you’re comfortable trying, here’s the forum thread you should be following.
If you aren’t, just have a bit more patience. Easier root methods are bound to come at some point, and who knows, we may even get to see custom ROMs on the Droid 2, in spite of Motorola’s best efforts.
- Motorola Droid X custom recovery image booted, custom ROMs on the way
- Motorola Droid X and Droid 2 won’t brick themselves after all, they’ll just get stuck in Recovery Mode
- HTC Wildfire gets soft root access
- Motorola Droid X and Droid 2 will brick themselves if you mess with their bootloaders
- Motorola to lock Droid X and Droid 2 bootloaders
Google has just announced that you can now call phone numbers from within Gmail’s chat system.
Voice calls (and video chat) were possible before from Gmail, but only between two people connected to Gmail via a computer. What changes today is that instead of calling a Google account holder, you can call any phone number worldwide.
If you’re in the US, that is. And if this feature has been rolled out for you, as it is being done in stages.
Furthermore, calls to numbers in the US and Canada will be free for the remainder of this year, which is a neat marketing idea from Google to get people talking about this new feature. It’s been ages since I’ve seen any decently priced VoIP service offer calls to the US and Canada for more than $0.01 per minute, so, while free is free, the amount you’d save by switching to Gmail’s solution isn’t that dramatic. Except if you spend your entire day talking. But then, the people you call may get upset, since these North American markets still charge for incoming calls.
As for international calls, the full price list is here. After having looked up a few popular destinations, I can say that it seems that Google’s service is usually cheaper than pre-paid Skype calls, but more expensive than some other international calling VoIP solutions. That said, your mileage may vary, depending on where you call, of course.
Also, one big advantage that competitors still hold over Google in this space is that they’re generally available no matter where you are. Also, Skype and some notable others do have some mobile clients, that don’t require you to be hooked to a computer to make a call.
Google seem intent on turning Gmail into much more than an email client, with Buzz, video chat and now this. It may be a good idea, but I can’t help but remember the web ‘portals’ of years past. Most tried to be too many things to too many people and failed. Hopefully Google will know when too many features on top of Gmail is too much, or have a way to keep its design as simple as it is today.
More info on calling phones from Gmail is available here.
- Over 1 million calls placed from Gmail already
- Google testing Gmail SMS Chat in Labs
- Skype Expands Their Unlimited Calling Subscription Options
- Google Sync now has push Gmail support for iPhone, Windows Mobile
- Fring finally comes to Android, available for download now
What we have here is a new model in what is now the Quench range of Android-powered smartphones from Motorola, the XT5. Little was previously known about this handset, but thankfully its specs and a couple of pictures have leaked.
So without further ado, here’s what this model is packing:
- OS: Android 2.1
- Band/Modes: WCDMA 900/1900/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps (Category 7/8), EDGE Class 12
- Display: 3.2″ 480×320 HVGA 262k
- FM radio, DivX video playback
- Battery: 1270 mAh
- Dimensions: 56 x 114 x 13 mm
- Weight: 114 g
This is shaping up to be a decent midrange smartphone, perhaps hampered a bit by the battery capacity compared to rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy 3. Of course, if the Quench XT5 were to get a price that is more attractive than its competitors’, things could be looking very good for this effort from Motorola, who seem to be banking everything on Android these days.
The supported bands clearly indicate a European/international release and no love for any of the US operators, but there’s always the possibility that one or more different versions of the phone tailored to AT&T’s or T-Mobile’s 3G bands would come in the future.
Needless to say, there’s no word yet on availability or even a date for the official announcement regarding this smartphone.
- Motorola Quench XT3 with Android gets official in Taiwan
- #MWC10: Motorola Quench Cliq XT (ex-Zeppelin) announced
- #MWC10 Motorola QUENCH/ CLIQ XT hands-on video
- Motorola Quench available in Canada via Rogers, $50 on contract
- Motorola Quench announced for TIM Brazil
Apple has announced another mysterious ‘special event’ – a little earlier than web rumors had anticipated – for next Wednesday, September 1.
As always, there’s tons of speculation about what the focus of the event will be and what new and updated products they’ll be talking about. Given the image used on the invite, some major music-related news is in store.
Read the rest of Another Apple Special Event Coming September 1
HTC has been having a lot of supply chain problems recently, the most famous of which involved them switching from Samsung-produced AMOLED displays to Sony-made SLCD panels for the Google Nexus One and HTC Desire.
It’s been a while since that switch was announced, and now HTC Desire smartphones with the new display tech from Sony are starting to show up in the wild.
And naturally, someone decided to make a comparison video. Aside from the AMOLED-touting HTC Desire of yesteryear, the new SLCD is also compared to a ‘traditional’ LCD in the HTC HD2.
As you can see, some differences are minor, while others could potentially turn into deal breakers for some. The viewing angles are better on AMOLED by far, while the colors seem to look more natural on the SLCD display.
Also, is it just me, or does the plain old LCD in the HD2 perform best in terms of outdoor visibility? That’s a bit strange. No one expected AMOLED to be a performer out there (that’s a job for its cousin Super AMOLED), but SLCD looks as it’s almost as bad.
Anyway, the good news is that you can now see for yourself what the advantages and disadvantages are for each screen technology and thus make an informed purchase decision.
- Sprint admits to HTC EVO 4G shortages. HTC Desire to get Sony SLCD displays
- HTC officially switches to Sony SLCD displays. Nexus One and Desire to benefit
- HTC Desire coming to AT&T, HTC Hero2 (Legend) coming to Sprint?
- Yellowish iPhone 3G screen can be cured by iTunes update
- Black HTC Desire finally available at Orange UK
The latest installment of the mega-successful Tap Tap Revenge series of iPhone music games hit the App Store yesterday – and it’s titled Katy Perry Revenge. If you’re one of the millions and millions of fans of the series, then you know the deal on how the games work – and here’s a little more on what this newest member of the series brings:
Tap the targets flying down your touchscreen to the beats of her biggest hits, and soak in the gorgeous themes and graphics inspired by the albums, videos, fashion, and fun of Miss Katy herself!
Read the rest of Latest Tap Tap Revenge Release = Katy Perry Revenge
We’ve just reviewed the BlackBerry Torch 9800, which has proven to be a great RIM smartphone.
Currently available only at AT&T, the Torch is also coming to Canada, and Bell has become the first Canadian carrier to put it on its website (which means it could also be the first to launch it).
Unfortunately, Bell doesn’t say when exactly you’ll be able to buy the Torch, but you can sign up here to receive updates.
The price of the BlackBerry Torch from Bell is not known at the moment, but it’s worth mentioning that the device costs $199.99 in the US (2-yr AT&T contract agreement required).
In other news from Canada, Rogers (which plans to release RIM’s Torch, too) has launched the Samsung Corby Touch T566.
Rogers’ Corby Touch can be bought online for as low as $39.99 on a 3-year deal. Its features include a 3 inch QVGA touchscreen display, TouchWiz UI, 3G, full HTML browser, and a 2MP camera.
- Samsung Corby Touch T566 coming to Canada via Rogers
- BlackBerry Torch 9800 will be on Vodafone in the UK. Rogers, Bell and Telus will sell it in Canada
- BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300 coming to Bell, Virgin Canada
- Samsung Corby Plus B3410 coming to Rogers for $130 on PAYG
- Samsung Corby Pro coming to Rogers for $70 on contract
A lot of focus is now being placed on Research in Motion’s (RIM) role in the ever-growing world of smartphones and how its phones fit in. With new powerhouses Apple and Google leading the attack on the years-long stronghold RIM has enjoyed with its Blackberry phones, it appears that RIM is losing relevancy at an incredibly rapid pace. The criticism lies in the fact that while Apple and Google continue to innovate with updated software and hardware, RIM has remained rather stagnant, typically releasing new phones that feel as though they should have come out last year.
RIM knows this, and is finally starting to fight back with a brand-new OS complete with new hardware designed to feel much more like its thriving competitors. The main concern is, however, that this new push to retain relevancy in an ever-changing smartphone universe might be coming too late.
Sure, there are still millions upon millions of Blackberry users that have subscribed to the “Crackberry” mentality — one that has been likened unto an addiction by some psychologists — and will continue to use Blackberry products no matter what comes out. But the problem is that very few people shopping for a new smartphone are actually choosing Blackberry over iPhone and Android option.
So with a new flagship product in the Blackberry Torch 9800 along with a large marketing campaign (large displays covered and shrouded in secrecy, for instance), RIM aims to take back its rightful spot in market share that it has enjoyed for so long. Many in the tech industry claim that the Torch is RIM’s last-ditch effort to get back in the game; that the company is looking at the Torch to save it from disappearing off the map completely. After all, RIM execs have labeled the Torch as the best Blackberry so far. That’s certainly saying a lot.
I don’t believe the Torch is RIM’s last shot. If the Torch fails, Blackberry products are still everywhere, and they’re still beloved by millions. The issue, however, lies in the fact that if Blackberry products aren’t moving forward in innovation (and if RIM can’t be future-thinking), they’re going backward. Android, iOS, WebOS and even Windows Phone 7 are all updating at a faster rate than Blackberry is. And yes, the argument can be made that Blackberry doesn’t update as often because it’s built on a solid OS and thus doesn’t need fixing. But the masses also want the latest and greatest device with the most modern stuff, and RIM isn’t viewed as having the “latest and greatest”. So if the Torch fails, RIM needs to be ready to follow it up with an even better, more forward-thinking flagship product. It needs to progress.
The Blackberry Torch 9800 is the most forward-thinking handset that RIM has put out in quite some time. The Blackberry Storm was the last major attempt at revolutionizing its lineup, throwing in a unique touchscreen with its SurePress technology, but was not loved by everyone. So with that, we dive into a closer look at this so-called “make it or break it” device, the Torch 9800, and the new Blackberry OS 6.
Unboxing the Blackberry Torch 9800
RIM has built a solid brand in its Blackberry lineup ever since it was first created. No matter how new or old it is, it’s easy to tell a Blackberry apart from any other phone. The company prides itself in keeping a trademark look and feel for all of its devices, and the Torch is no exception. The crazy thing is that this is the first slider phone that RIM has ever made, so it doesn’t look exactly like any other Blackberry, yet just at first glance you can tell it’s made by the same company.
The Torch is presented in a small all-black box that looks like it wouldn’t be large enough to fit all of the accessories Blackberry phones usually come with. Everything is packed in very nicely; each box comes with a 3.5 mm stereo headset, charger/USB cable combo (the charger is just a wall module with USB port, which is the same style being used by most smartphones nowadays; I absolutely love this new trend), battery, 4 GB MicroSD card to complement the 4 GB internal storage, cloth to clean fingerprints off the screen, and included software CD and various quick start booklets. The only thing missing is a standard case with belt clip. I’m curious as to why, since the Bold series came with one. My theory is that it was left out to make room for the MicroSD card which did not come included with the Bold series.
Not only is everything packaged in a classy manner, the phone itself looks very classy as well. Just by looking at the exterior I can tell there was a lot of care put into designing it. But we’ll get into the design in just a moment.
Hardware of the Blackberry Torch
My main concern at first was how a slider phone would hold up, given the type of demands a Blackberry user would have for it. Obviously it has to be a large enough touchscreen to make it worth having, slid on top of a keyboard just about as large as its predecessor, the Bold 9700. But RIM has mentioned that this phone has been 3 years in the making, and I can tell that there has been a lot of preparation involved on this one.
The slide itself is incredibly solid. It doesn’t feel loose at all while sliding, and when slid open it doesn’t feel like it is just randomly going to fall apart. This is always a good sign when using a slider — not having to worry about whether or not it will run right off the slider’s tracks. One other key that shows how solid the slider mechanism really is becomes evident as I try to open the slider with one hand. Unless I grip onto the screen itself tight, it’s practically impossible to open with just one hand. The easier it is to open one-handed, the less comfortable I feel about the phone’s durability. Once the slider opens, you can hear and feel it click into place. One final note on the slider: it doesn’t feel off balance or top heavy when slid open. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The Torch utilizes a 3.2” capacitive touchscreen that does not involve Surepress. Sorry if you are a Surepress fan, but most people I’ve talked to much prefer the ease of use on a full capacitive screen instead.
Colors are black on both front and back, with chrome on the top and bottom and on the sides. The battery cover for the Torch has a very classy look in its display that I’ve been told is like a brushed aluminum. I love the look of all the lines on the back, though whether it adds to the robust nature of the phone has yet to be seen. It just looks tougher.
The keys on the phone very similar to most, if not all, of the Blackberry devices on the market: on the front, underneath the screen, we find the call button, menu button (affectionately called the “freckle button”), trackpad, go back button, and call end/power. The volume adjustment keys on the right side of the phone, right next to the convenience key (which by default is the camera, but I much prefer the voice command feature as my favorite shortcut). The left side only boasts a MicroUSB charging port, and the top part of the phone has screen lock on the left and mute on the right.
When looking at the keyboard, I find it incredibly reminiscient of the Tour and Bold 9700, both in look and feel. The buttons I think are a smidge smaller, and uses the same style where there is no separation between keys and instead opts for slightly raised edges on each individual key. On the first few uses I noticed I wasn’t quite used to the smaller size, thus causing me to smash my fingers on different keys than intended. I adjusted after a short while and got used to the keyboard well enough to make it enjoyable.
If a physical keyboard isn’t your thing, the Torch gives you access to an on-screen keyboard as well. On a 3.2” screen, the buttons aren’t very large; I definitely recommend going to landscape mode if you are doing any heavy typing and refuse to use the physical keyboard for some reason.
Other aspects of the phone’s hardware design are a mixed bag. Some are huge improvements to the Blackberry lineup (the 512 MB internal flash memory doubles that of the 9700) and remain competitive with the other big boys; some aspects are downers in that they stay the same as older devices. No progression equals a loss of significant ground to Android and iPhone.
For instance, much has been said about the Torch’s lackluster screen resolution. At 480×360, it’s not terrible. But when compared to Retina Displays and Super AMOLED screens available en masse now, the Torch’s screen doesn’t hold a candle. To me, this could be a major disadvantage of planning 3 years out; obviously in 2007 the Torch’s screen quality would have been rivaled by none other. Now, it’s just mediocre. Still lovely to look at, but there’s no “wow factor” there. And these things may seem little, but are in reality important enough differences that will likely affect the decision of many customers.
Let’s go on to Blackberry’s new OS 6.
User Interface of the Blackberry Torch
OS 6 certainly has the same cool modern look to it as its predecessor, and is optimized to work well on a touchscreen like the Torch. Everything on it is just as customizable and much easier to access your favorite apps and settings since everything you need is on the screen in front of you.
When first turning on the screen you’ll notice the usual date/time and profile information on top, with a whole lot of nothing else underneath with the exception of a arrow at the bottom of the screen pointing up. Clicking the arrow (or sliding your finger up) reveals a full app tray. The kicker is that this app tray is actually one out of five panels you can choose from; sliding your finger left or right ala iPhone or Android style will show the other four panels. The panels are broken down to Favorites, Downloads, Media, Frequent, and All. Each panel takes up the majority of the screen real estate, but you can slide your finger downward part of the way to minimize the panels down to your top selections (Remember how every other Blackberry uses the basic screen with just the top row of apps and you have to hit the menu button for the rest of the apps to show up? Same kind of idea for this one).
Get tired of the menu button that Blackberry users have grown to rely on so heavily over the years? Try holding down your desired icon and a little pop-up menu will appear, giving you options such as move, hide, mark as favorite, switch app, and more. This makes a huge difference to me in how I personalize and access various items on the Torch.
The notification bar is located between the date/time section and the app tray, and is a large improvement over the previous method of notifications. On earlier OS versions, you could see a notification showing that you have a new message, but spend a half hour looking through all sorts of subfolders trying to find a random browser service message that you never knew you had. OS 6 eliminates this hassle by letting you click on the notification bar, and a new tray slides down underneath showing off every detail of each one and letting you access that notification directly from that screen. What kind of notifications can you see? Messages, calendar appointments approaching, Facebook and Twitter updates, and more available from other apps. I absolutely love this feature.
Blackberry has also improved its search capabilities by introducing “Universal Search”. The concept is simple enough: touch the magnifying glass on the top right, start typing in whatever you’re looking for, and you’ll find search results from anywhere in the device. For example, by typing in “Bob” you’ll find all of your contacts by that name, any web search history with the word Bob in it, music from your Bob Marley collection, your friend Bob’s Facebook account, and more.
Speaking of Facebook, OS 6 also features extra social networking opportunities by including a Social Feeds app. In it you can peruse your favorite RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, and many more types of social networking. You can also opt to use the dedicated Twitter, Facebook and MySpace apps instead. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it is refreshing to see Blackberry jump on the Social bandwagon and offer it to its users.
Included on the software CD, Desktop Manager 6 is a very robust piece of syncing software and is my favorite DM so far. The interface has a very minimalistic look to it and syncing contacts, applications, organizer and media couldn’t be easier. It’s almost as though the DM team took a few notes from iTunes and other third-party software. One interesting feature I haven’t seen before on a Blackberry is syncing over WiFi; by having the DM pulled up on the computer I can use my WiFi connection to wirelessly sync over fresh music without having to plug the Torch into my computer directly. With the WiFi sync enabled, in fact, my computer’s entire music library shows up listed on my Torch with all unsynced music grayed out. It’s easy enough to click on one of the grayed-out icons and the Torch will automatically sideload it into the phone’s library for you.
Features of the Blackberry Torch
One huge feature that should not go overlooked on the Torch is its included WebKit browser. Anyone who has used a web browser on a Blackberry knows how much of a pain it truly is to navigate and surf with, and has probably become well aware of easier browsers like Opera. Browsing no longer has to be a pain in the neck because WebKit allows true HTML browsing complete with tabs and pinch-to-zoom. In fact, the Torch is actually named after the company RIM acquired in order to develop WebKit capabilities on its new devices.
Blackberry devices are well known for ease of email setup and use, and the Torch follows the tradition well. When I booted up the Torch for the very first time, I was greeted with a setup screen that gave me several choices, including email setup. I point this out as another improvement in OS 6 that replaces the old style that forces you to go through each individual setup screen before finally letting you skip ahead to using the phone.
Email also works wonderfully on the Torch using touchscreen gestures. When in an email, using a left or right sliding gesture will navigate you through all of your emails, and it’s easy to get HTML emails to show up as well.
The music player performed well. The player has a nice interface that keeps everything minimal but still manages to throw in all the necessities. For instance, the music player shows the cover art with album and track info as well as the controls on the bottom of the screen, but the cover art is displayed in a fashion very similar to Cover Flow on the iPhone. It’s easy to scroll back and forth to whatever other songs you want to play. Options available via menu button will allow for different EQ settings. Using my Skullcandy headphones I was able to get great audio quality out of the music player.
We find a camera with 5 MP resolution and VGA video recording abilities. One thing I enjoyed on the Torch was the included LED flash. I think the flash should be included on every handset that offers a higher-end camera, even though I don’t use it a whole lot. It’s difficult to use in darker areas just because every picture turns out over-exposed, but typically it looks great in medium to low light situations instead. Video VGA recording is rather disappointing when you consider all of the newest powerhouse phones are equipped with 720p HD video recording. Still, the video recording is decent at 23-24 fps and is one of the best for Blackberry devices, but not for the competition.
I like the newly included Podcast app in the media section. I found it to be easier to use than the native iTunes app located on the iPhone, because it was simpler UI and I could find most podcasts that I normally subscribe to on a normal basis. I enjoyed how pleasant it was to download the latest podcasts that I have subscribed to.
The address book and calendars can be synced wirelessly through Google Sync if preferred, though you can take advantage of AT&T’s new Address Book service which allows you to back up your address book into AT&T’s servers and have it available to you if you begin using a different phone. Fortunately you have several methods at your disposal, as you can use these options on top of the typical Exchange or Enterprise accounts.
App World has been updated to 2.0, which has several improvements. The major difference between the two is the opportunity to set up new Blackberry login codes, much like iTunes accounts; but instead of being restricted to PayPal payments only, credit cards are now accepted when downloading a paid app. It also throws in a top 25 section, showing off the most popular paid and free apps in the App World currently. Not finding what you need in App World still? It’s easy to download third-party apps through special websites or other related means. Don’t ask me why this can’t be done with Android phones on AT&T, but Blackberry phones can use third-party apps anytime.
Performance of the Blackberry Torch
As Blackberry devices are planned out years in advance, it’s no surprise that we still haven’t seen one crack the 1 GHz CPU barrier yet. The Torch, with as top-of-the-line that it is, still runs a 624 MHz processor. This doesn’t mean it’s slow. Far from it, in fact; I would argue that RIM’s excellent memory management definitely helps keep the Torch speedier than most smartphones packing the same processor. The CPU worked plenty fast for me, quickly and easily getting me into all the apps and using all the gestures I would need.
Battery life is a well-known strength of the Blackberry lineup, and continues to delight us with the 1,300 mAh battery in the Torch. Heavy users will notice the battery lasting most of the day, even with constant emailing, texting, calling and using the phone for other various activities such as Facebook or Twitter. Light users? Definitely two full days of use. It’s better than most Android phones out there, and outlasts the iPhone 4.
The signal was great on the Torch, as it’s also another Blackberry advantage (notice a trend here? Turns out the Blackberry is great for performance, overall). I didn’t drop any calls, I consistently noticed it getting 1-2 bars better service than my iPhone 3GS, and sound quality was above average. I do wish the speakerphone was louder, however.
My Final Thoughts on the Blackberry Torch
I had a very enjoyable experience on the Blackberry Torch 9800, especially in comparison to most of the device’s predecessors. I think RIM did a great job putting together a solid phone with decent components and a fresh OS that seems to make a large difference in the user experience.
It doesn’t have the best components or specs compared to the other powerful smartphones coming out this Summer. It’s hard for Blackberry to compete with the HTC Incredible or Samsung Galaxy S series or any of the other juggernauts we’ve seen this year because it’s not releasing the Torch with the state-of-the-art specs as we would all hope for. But let’s get something straight: RIM knows darn well how to make a good smartphone that performs great.
If you are looking for a fresh new smartphone with full physical keyboard, I fully recommend the Torch. The real competition there is in the Palm Pre Plus, but the Torch outshines the Pre Plus in overall performance and has a much nicer keyboard to use as well. For a touchscreen, though, it’s not any different than any other smartphone on the planet.
The Torch will mostly draw loyal Blackberry customers that won’t turn to anywhere else, and perhaps a small few will consider the Torch over the other powerhouse phones. It’s not going to turn heads or immediately put Blackberry back on top, but it’s a huge step in the right direction, one that can only be followed up with another, more powerful step. And if RIM keeps going at this pace, it may find itself back in the race for market share. The Torch alone won’t do it, but it’s a start.
- BlackBerry Torch 9800 shows up in AT&T stores
- AT&T’s BlackBerry Torch (9800 slider) with BlackBerry OS 6 gets official
- Pantech Pursuit For AT&T Peeks Out and Says Hello at #CTIA 2010; Specs Included
- AT&T’s Samsung Impression A877 Review
- First BlackBerry Thunder live pics surface
We knew that the Sony Ericsson Vivaz would come to AT&T since back June, and now the smartphone has been finally announced by the second-largest US carrier – not long after the Xperia X10 was launched.
Unlike the X10 (which, of course, runs Android) the SE Vivaz is based on Symbian^1 – and OS that’s not exactly popular in the US.
Anyway, what’s nice about AT&T’s Vivaz is that it costs only $79.99 with a 2-yr contract agreement (after a $50 rebate). For that kind of money, you get a smartphone that features a 360 x 640 pixels touchscreen display, HSPA, GPS, Wi-Fi, and an 8.1MP autofocus camera with HD video recording.
AT&T says you’ll be able to buy the Vivaz starting September 5, in two color versions: Galaxy Blue and Venus Ruby (the latter will be available online only for a limited period of time).
I don’t think there will be many users wanting to buy the Vivaz, not with all those new Windows Phone 7 smartphones coming soon, but… we’ll see.
Via Press release
- Sony Ericsson Vivaz (Kurara U5) gets official earlier than planned
- Sony Ericsson Vivaz now also in pink
- Vodafone UK announces the Sony Ericsson Vivaz, Qik mobile video service
- Samsung Galaxy S on pre-order at Vodafone UK, ships on June 15
- Sony Ericsson Vivaz U5a approved by FCC, AT&T 3G bands included
Customizers rejoice: the latest experimental build of Dropbox now respects your installed icon set. This means users no longer need to manually replace them with theme-akin replacements.
“We have changed the names of our tray icons and made them completely themeable. So if you want to use your own tray icons the suggested method is to add your icons to .icons or to /usr/share/icons/ for all users (in an appropriate theme folder such as hicolor/22×22/status) and to leave the ones in .dropbox-dist alone. The icons in .dropbox-dist will only be used if no icons are found in other locations.”
Those wishing to take start including Dropbox icons within their theme sets should note that the new names for the icons are: -
As someone sans a working DVD drive let alone something to burn or copy I have been largely unaware of a bug plaguing Brasero users during the last few releases: it fails to copy audio and data CD’s and, for some, burning is also borked.
Thankfully a fix is available - albeit via a 3rd party PPA. To install the patched Brasero (chances are this ‘bug’ will remain in Maverick) open a terminal via the applications > accessories menu and enter the following two lines carefully: -
- sudo add-apt-repository ppa:renbag/ppa
- sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
Samsung has reportedly confirmed it would launch the world’s first LTE phone next month (September).
Featuring a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a touchscreen display and a 3.2MP camera, the Samsung Craft is not a smartphone and uses Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. The handset should cost $300 free of contract – this price is not confirmed, though.
One of the markets where MetroPCS will offer LTE services this year (likely starting September, since the Craft some out then) is the Las Vegas metropolitan area.
Verizon will probably be the second US carrier to launch an LTE phone – this should happen in 2011.
Via Yonhap News
- Samsung Craft (r900) LTE phone for MetroPCS pictured
- Verizon’s first LTE phone to come in mid 2011
- MetroPCS first to deploy LTE in the US? May have BlackBerry onboard already
- LTE Samsung phone announced by MetroPCS for 2010
- Samsung r900 LTE phone announced for MetroPCS
Fastar! is today’s Free App A Day freebie! We reviewed Fastar! a couple weeks ago and loved it. It’s a brilliant distillation of the Japanese RPG genre, an action game in which you kill enemies to make money to upgrade your skills to kill more enemies as quickly as you can. It features a boatload of game types, online leaderboards, a great sense of humor, and fast and fun gameplay. If a dollar was too much for you then, perhaps free will loosen your download finger?
Get it here!
Seen last week in a handful of live photos, the WP7-based LG C900 will definitely not be launched under this name by AT&T.
The name “LG Pacific” was mentioned by a Microsoft official in an interview earlier this year, so this could indeed be the handset’s final moniker. We’ll see if this is true or not when AT&T announces the device.
The C900 has just been approved by the FCC, and some sources say (based on info found at the Bluetooth SIG) that it could be launched around September 28. I wouldn’t bet on that, though, since the SIG is often wrong when it comes to launch dates.
Apart form the LG C900 Pacific, other three Windows Phone 7 devices are bound to hit AT&T soon: LG GW910, Samsung Cetus i917, and HTC T8788. It’s not clear if all of them will be available this year, but some of them are certainly coming this holiday season – otherwise, AT&T couldn’t be the “premier Windows Phone 7 carrier” in the US.
- AT&T’s LG C900 with Windows Phone 7 and QWERTY keyboard leaked
- Samsung i917 Cetus will run Windows Phone 7
- Windows Phone 7 LG handset coming in September?
- AT&T Samsung i917 Cetus live pics emerge
- The world’s first LTE phone (Samsung Craft for MetroPCS) to be launched in September
With the UI and feature freeze just about to fall into place for Ubuntu 10.10 a few subtle changes to the default ‘Humanity’ icon set have landed – and just in time!
Unlike previous releases and/or updates to Humanity chances are you won’t notice a dramatic shift in style. Instead this update brings many previously ‘not-quite-right’ icons into line whilst adding many more which were previously missing or not included.
There are new directional and toolbar buttons for Nautilus and, as you can spot below, a new ‘home’ icon: -
There are new icons for various hardware devices such as iPod touch, Motorola Droid & even the humble hard-drive.
There are literally hundreds more but most, as noted above, are updated rather than brand spanking new so expect differences to be subtle rather than shouting.
There’s nothing worse than an application sitting in the notification area of your system panel and sticking out like a sore thumb on the cohesive hand of your desktop.
Or something more poetic.
Below sit five such apps and some Lucid-loving replacement icons. Installation instructions can be found at the respective links but, as a rule of thumb (what is it with the hand metaphors today?), most require running nautilus as root (ALT+F2 > gksu nautilus /usr/share/icons) then navigating to the respective icon folder, replacing the offending pixels and restarting the application in question.
JDownloader Icon by aleixosk
Parcellite by ~Ramzea
Last.FM by ~half-left
GMoteServer by ~AndroMan28
Tucan (twitter app) by javierpsilocybin
With a new 2-yr contract agreement, the AT&T Captivate is only $0.01, while the T-Mobile Vibrant can be yours for $69.99 (not long ago, the Vibrant was only $0.01, too – it’s probably selling too well for Amazon to offer it for free).
At the moment I’m writing this, the Captivate and the Vibrant cost $199.99 each at AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s websites, so Amazon’s offering is more than tempting if you plan to get any of the two handsets.
- Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant and Captivate coming to Canada this month
- T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant Galaxy S also available starting today
- Samsung Vibrant (Galaxy S) confirmed by T-Mobile USA
- HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant launched in Canada (by Telus, Bell)
- T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant (Galaxy S T959) shows up