Comcast brings Wi-Fi-only Xfinity TV streaming to iPhone, iPod Touch
May19

Comcast brings Wi-Fi-only Xfinity TV streaming to iPhone, iPod Touch

Comcast’s Fancast service and iPad app (available since February) have offered access to their admittedly impressive onDemand catalog, highlighted by movies and shows from premium networks like HBO and Showtime. Now the experience finally comes to the iPhone. The most recent (v 1.5) update of their Xfinity app now allows iPhone and iPod touch users to join the iPad in streaming onDemand content from Comcast’s servers. Comcast may be under fire for their massive merger with NBC Universal, but one thing that hasn’t yet drawn much negative attention is their Xfinity TV service. Cable companies are racing with each other to get their content out of the living room and into our pockets (as well as stave of Verizon’s FIOS). Now that the cable giants have finally realized that their customers don’t just want to watch their content in their homes in front of their TVs, Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable has found ways to pump their Xfinity TV content into devices that users can take anywhere (with a Wi-Fi connection, that is). The importance of this particular migration to the iPhone is clear: while Apple has done brisk sales of the iPad and iPad 2, the numbers pale in comparison to the number of iPhones in circulation. The main advantage Comcast’s app enjoys over those of their clueless brethren at Cabelvision and Time Warner is that despite the functionality’s Wi-Fi limitations, users of the Xfinity app can use the service over ANY Wi-Fi connection, not just their home network. The number of people who would want or need to watch TV on an iPhone in a home that already has cable service is undoubtedly miniscule, but for those who do, TWC and Cablevision have you covered. No word on where Comcast customers who have 4G service with a mobile hotspot fit in regards to the “Wi-Fi-only” restrictions. iTunes via...

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Sprint HTC Arrive Review
Mar31

Sprint HTC Arrive Review

The very first Windows Phone 7 device has shown up on Sprint’s website and stores (note how I avoided the obvious pun there?), which Microsoft should consider a huge victory for its overall smartphone market share in the US. Now that WP7 is finally available on CDMA, we should see the floodgates open for multiple handsets running the platform on Sprint and Verizon both. This is going to be great for Microsoft, since up until this time the OS was only available on exactly 50% of the major nationwide networks, and it’s only going to continue growing. But before we see any sort of floodgates in action for WP7, let us first reflect upon the HTC Arrive, the phone responsible for leading the charge against the CDMA carriers. With one more OS platform becoming available on Sprint, I love seeing carriers offer more OS choices to their customers. Let the HTC Arrive review commence! Here’s Part 1 of the Video Review.   First impressions and Unboxing Check here for my first impressions of the HTC Arrive immediately after unboxing it, and watch the unboxing video below.   Software of the HTC Arrive Windows Phone 7 devices are the most consistent of any OS platform (with iOS perhaps excepted) currently, which is another way of saying it’s the most boring across the board. Every single device running WP7 has to be running a minimal hardware standard, and the most customizing any OEM or carrier can do on WP7 is restricted to the Hub for that company. It’s a locked-down OS to the max, which makes Microsoft sound a heckuva lot like Apple. My guess is that they have chosen the same closed-OS model as its competitor because they were too worried that an open-sourced or open-to-customization WP7 would easily just spiral out of control, essentially turning into the same exact problem Windows Mobile 6.x ran into. The software of any WP7 device is going to be boring to review, because there’s very little room for each OEM and carrier to innovate and be different from their competitors. The only hope for each WP7 phone to shine is to find a nook or cranny on the software or hardware that makes it look or feel different than the rest. In the case of the HTC Arrive, they were supremely different in 3 things: NoDo pre-installed, Sprint Zone, and a couple new design ideas that had me sold from the first moment I tried the phone. NoDo Update on the Arrive The HTC Arrive is the first to come pre-loaded with the new NoDo update, which is finally now starting to roll...

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 Hands-On at CTIA 2011 (video)
Mar23

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 Hands-On at CTIA 2011 (video)

The Galaxy Tab 8.9 was the worst-kept secret of CTIA 2011. Then again, it’s not like Samsung really tried that hard to keep it one; the teaser site made it clear enough that another Tab was in the plans for the US, one that was in between the 7-inch and 10.1-inch versions. Samsung is trying hard to offer as many options as possible, and has done the best at giving a diverse lineup of tablets. Every other OEM has come out with only one tablet each, with the exception of Apple — and even then, the iPad and iPad 2 are still the same exact size, not really offering diversity. But when Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab 8.9, the company also re-announced the 10.1 version and gave it a couple new fresh twists to make it worth hearing about: a revamped Touchwiz UI that went right over Android 3.0 Honeycomb with some new features, and a much thinner form factor at 8.6 mm thin. Both models, the 8.9 and 10.1, will have the same form factor and look virtually identical with the exception of size. Both will use the TouchWiz UI as well. The only difference between the two will be its size (although I suppose price is another difference as well). Pricing was announced for both versions, with WiFi-only being the only connectivity option for now; however, during my hands-on with both devices, I noticed a SIM card slot on both, giving me the impression that there will be a good chance we’ll see it show up on AT&T or T-Mobile eventually (or at least globally on any GSM network for that matter). The pricing for both models are definitely competitive and could do very well. The 10.1, for instance, is priced at $499 for 16 GB and $599 for 32 GB (available beginning June 8); the 8.9 is priced at $469 and $569 for the same storage options (available sometime in early summer). I’ve included the videos for both the 8.9 and 10.1, as well as some comparison shots. One thing I noted in the videos was the carbon-fiber material on the back that allows for better gripping, but I had the chance to go back later and handle the “real, closer to finished” models hiding under glass; these models didn’t have the grippy material on the back but rather a slick non-glossy plastic. Since it was also the official 8.6 mm thinness (the hands-on models were 10.9 mm), I do believe this is the model closest to being final. (In the above shot, this is a comparison between the Galaxy Tab 10.1 announced last month at...

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T-Mobile G2X Hands-on at CTIA 2011
Mar22

T-Mobile G2X Hands-on at CTIA 2011

Having a sliver of time in between press conferences today, I managed to swing by the LG booth and get a few minutes of one-on-one time with the T-Mobile G2X, an LG phone that is known globally as the LG Optimus 2X. The T-Mobile version is basically a pure vanilla Froyo experience with a little T-Mobile flavor thrown in (in other words, bloatware). In fact, there were a few UI changes that LG had made on the Optimus 2X to make sure it fit its style, and T-Mobile appears to have taken those out and bring it back to the basic vanilla. The G2X will also run on T-Mobile’s 4G (or, as Dan Hesse just called it today, “faux G”) HSPA+ network, though it will max out at 14.4 Mbps and will not be able to upgrade up to T-Mobile’s new max of 42. It uses the Tegra 2 dual-core processor with a 1 GHz clock speed to make it the fastest device on T-Mobile at present time. The G2x should be upgradeable to Gingerbread, and according to LG this should be relatively soon. We’ve heard “soon” before, and won’t believe it until we see it. In the meantime, it’s still at least running Froyo so you have access to Flash Player and a decently fast browser. We anticipate seeing the G2x arrive on T-Mobile shelves sometime in April, and while the price has not yet been disclosed, we should be seeing it at no more than $199, most likely. Check out my pics and video below!...

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Verizon-Branded Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Seen at CTIA 2011, We Go Hands-on (Video)
Mar22

Verizon-Branded Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Seen at CTIA 2011, We Go Hands-on (Video)

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is nothing new on the trade-show floor, but a Verizon-branded version of it is. We caught some footage and pics of the Xperia Play and had some good play time with the device here at CTIA 2011. We found the Xperia Play to be running on Android 2.3 Gingerbread; specifically, it was running 2.3.2. In fact, it is almost completely vanilla Android, with a few tweaks here and there to make room for the specific Xperia Play experience; for instance, when opening the slider, you’re automatically taken to the Xperia Play section, which lets you choose between several games already installed or pre-loaded on the device and the option to download new games. There’s really no other surprises to the Verizon-branded Play besides the obligatory bloatware, but even that isn’t much of a shocker. I do enjoy the fact that Sony Ericsson kept this phone relatively free of UI overlays, unlike other members of the Xperia lineup. Sony Ericsson representatives on hand could not specify a date or pricing yet, but the firmware on the Play looks pretty close to final; no bugs could be seen, and all of Verizon’s usual apps and bloatware are already on it. Look on below for the full video showing off the Xperia Play, with some extra pictures....

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Verizon HTC Thunderbolt 4G Unboxing and First Impressions
Mar18

Verizon HTC Thunderbolt 4G Unboxing and First Impressions

We knew the moment was going to come eventually, but Verizon and HTC sure made it a suspenseful ride for us the entire time. The HTC Thunderbolt is now available in stores for $249.99 with contract ($179.99 through Amazon or go through Wirefly and Use Coupon Code THUNDER0321 for $25 off) and we got sent a unit to play around with. You may have heard already, but the Thunderbolt is the very first LTE smartphone to show up on Verizon’s superfast 4G network. This 4G network is different than the other 3 major carriers; Sprint uses WiMax, and T-Mobile and AT&T are currently on HSPA+. However, LTE has the highest capacity of them all in terms of overall network speeds and reliability, and the aforementioned carriers are all either planning on building out their LTE network, or at least highly considering it. We could very well see all 4 carriers using LTE at some point over the next few years. As of this writing, Verizon claims speeds of 5-12 Mbps download and 2-5 up using the HTC Thunderbolt. I haven’t been able to thoroughly test the LTE network, though I will be taking the Thunderbolt to Orlando for CTIA, where Verizon has LTE up and running, and giving it a good thorough testing. I’m very excited about the Thunderbolt because not only does it offer the 4G speeds, it also comes packed with every other spec imaginable. This 4.3-inch WVGA phone comes with 8 GB internal storage space AND a 32 GB MicroSD card pre-installed. I don’t think I’ve reviewed a phone yet that has come with 40 GB storage in the box. It also has the latest generation of Snapdragon 1 GHz processors (single-core, not dual) and 768 MB RAM, 8 MP rear camera and 1.3 MP front camera with 720p HD video, and 802.11n WiFi. It runs on Android 2.2 Froyo and uses HTC Sense. The phone actually reminds me a lot of the Inspire 4G in many ways. You can also use the HTC Thunderbolt as a mobile hotspot and tether that 4G connection to up to 5 other wireless devices. The kicker on all this is that Verizon is offering free tethering on the Thunderbolt until May 15, before they begin charging you $20 per month. This is another reason to get the phone as soon as possible, so you can start taking advantage of that deal. The Wirefly offer for the $25 off, by the way, is only good until March 21. So you have 3 more days to take advantage of it! Use Coupon Code THUNDER0321 for $25 off the HTC ThunderBolt  ...

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Sprint HTC Arrive Unboxing and First Impressions
Mar17

Sprint HTC Arrive Unboxing and First Impressions

Sometimes I find it too easy to make puns out of phone names. The HTC Arrive on Sprint is one of the easiest, so I will do away with the usual puns. I can understand the choice of the name this time, however, because the Arrive is the very first Windows Phone 7 device to operate on CDMA, and it certainly won’t be the last. With the HTC Arrive being the “arrival” of WP7 on CDMA carriers, I imagine we’ll see a wave of new CDMA WP7 devices rolling out not too far from now. Hopefully we’ll even have a few to report on at CTIA next week. This device in particular is a full horizontal slide-out with physical QWERTY keyboard included, much like the LG Quantum, with one exception — the keyboard tilts up for easier viewing. It comes with 3.6″ WVGA display. But the other big reason the Arrive fits its name well is because it’s the very first WP7 device to come with the latest update, aka NoDo, and it’s pre-installed. This brings the much-awaited copy and paste functionality to Windows Phones as well as a few other minor enhancements. My first impressions? I dig it. I love the look of the phone and it feels about the same as the EVO Shift 4G in my hand: heavier because of the full keyboard, but designed well enough to feel comfortable holding it. I have typically been a fan of HTC’s designs. In fact, I’m absolutely fond of the tilting mechanism the phone uses. When you see the video, you’ll get a better idea of it, but here’s a brief picture. I really enjoy the keyboard because first and foremost, it is a 5-row keyboard which means it includes a number row at the top. Far too many phones leave this option out in order to make the phone as small as possible. The keys are separated and just a little bubbly, which means there’s enough give to provide feedback for your fingers, yet not so bouncy that it feels like you’re typing on a trampoline. In our unboxing today we will get some first impressions of the phone with its keyboard, copy and paste, and any other goodies we can find. So check out the video below to see the HTC Arrive, making its way into Sprint stores on March 20 for $199 on contract. In addition there will be a $10/month premium data charge required. Here’s the full video of my unboxing and first impressions:...

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AT&T HTC Freestyle Unboxing
Mar09

AT&T HTC Freestyle Unboxing

HTC has been a critical partner this past month in shaping AT&T’s future. First, the Inspire 4G was the company’s first venture into Froyo and the “4G” world and in essence marked the beginning of the post-iPhone-exclusivity era (PIE for short? I coined it!). And the HTC Freestyle also bagged some other firsts for AT&T: the first Brew MP-powered handset on the network, and the first phone that is more of a smartphone/Quick Messaging Phone hybrid that doesn’t require a data plan. The Freestyle is just the beginning of a new strategy that AT&T has been developing as a way of transitioning all of its customers into smartphones. The premise is that it’s much easier for a customer to transition from a Freestyle to an Android device than it is for a customer to go from a basic phone like the Pantech Breeze. This sharp transition causes a dramatic increase in phone returns and a loss of customer interest in getting future smartphones. The idea is to introduce customers to budget-friendly devices that still look and feel like smartphones, but without all the extra functionality commonly found in them. Brew MP is the featurephone OS that AT&T plans to stand behind, stating at CES 2011 that it expects to have 90% of its QMP lineup running this platform by year’s end. By creating an entire lineup of phones that run universally on Brew MP, developers will be much more inclined to build applications for these phones, making them more desirable. As it currently stands, most Quick Messaging Phones on AT&T are all powered by proprietary (and rather junky, might I add) OS platforms that simply don’t offer much selection in personalizing your phone. The Freestyle is the beginning of a new generation, so join us as we unbox it and get some hands-on time with the OS. Watch our video below! Get the HTC Freestyle on Amazon for one...

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AT&T HTC Inspire 4G Review
Mar08

AT&T HTC Inspire 4G Review

Though AT&T has offered several Android smartphones on its lineup for a year now, they haven’t offered anything that stands out above the crowd. Any Android phone on the network up until this point has been a “me too” device, something that was only offered as a way of appeasing the few smartphone owners that weren’t interested in iPhones. It also gave them a bragging point that they had a lineup that featured a phone with every single smartphone OS platform (Apple, Blackberry, WebOS, WP7, Symbian, and Android). Now that iPhone exclusivity is gone, the game has changed and AT&T knows this. Thus we are now seeing a whole lineup of 4G-capable Android phones with top-of-the-line specs and reasonable prices getting launched, so AT&T can be truly competitive with the other networks. After all, now the network has to rely on other things to keep its numbers up. So without further adieu, we intro the HTC Inspire 4G on AT&T, the very first phone that the network is attaching the “4G” moniker to. Everyone has their own ideas about what 4G actually is, and if the current AT&T network can even be considered real 4G. The answer is yes, it IS technically 4G, but it’s not going to be running on the LTE network that’s slated to come out later this summer. On top of the 4G debate, is the Inspire 4G actually worth considering? Is it a legit post-iPhone contender that will likely be butting heads with the likes of the EVO 4G and HTC ThunderBolt? Let’s find out. Unboxing the Inspire 4G We had the opportunity to unbox the Inspire 4G and get some good first impressions of the device in the video below. Overall, my first impressions of the phone were good, though the 4.3” screen is not for everyone. Small hands need not apply, that’s for sure. Otherwise, a very solid phone with a battery cover (door?) that is nearly impossible to open and close without worrying that you’re going to break the cover.   Design and Hardware of the Inspire 4G Since the Inspire 4G — a revamped US version of the Desire HD — will be the first one on AT&T to bear the name of the high-speed network it is using, there’s a lot of pressure on the landmark handset to get it right. In terms of overall design, for starters, HTC sure did get it right. HTC excels at phone design by sticking with what works, and branching out for unique unibody aluminum exterior with the classic industrial silver and gray look is a wonderful design choice that’s both elegant and...

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T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S 4G Unboxing
Mar04

T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S 4G Unboxing

With the launch of several Galaxy S smartphones in the fall of 2010 as well as the announcement of the lineup’s sequel, the Galaxy S2, the newly-released Galaxy S 4G seems almost out of place, as if it’s between homes. It doesn’t feel quite comfortable hanging out with its older siblings, but yet seems too old for the new kiddies on the block. The Samsung Galaxy S 4G is also known as the Vibrant 4G, for good reason. It is in many respects an exact replica of the Vibrant, only with 21 Mbps download speeds, a cool new silver casing and a front-facing camera for video chats. Not only are these some great specs to throw in as a way of refreshing an already good phone, it helps make the phone look better, sleeker and more modern. Not to mention the 21 Mbps makes the Galaxy S 4G the only one on T-Mobile’s network that can go that fast; all other 4G phones like the myTouch 4G and G2 max out at 14.4 Mbps instead. Let’s play with the phone now. Get the Samsung Galaxy S 4G on...

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