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Dec 4, 2009

DLO WallDock iPhone charger shoots for minimalist practicality

DLO WallDock iPhone charger shoots for minimalist practicality


Yesterday's in-wall USB charger hackery might have inspired plenty of you to take up tools and start the USB power revolution, but if you own an iPod or iPhone and just a smidgen of common sense, you might wanna look at this first. The DLO WallDock is a teeny tiny charger that plugs into those familiar standard wall sockets, and its designed so that your iDevice leans back when connected, turning it into a neat (and wireless) substitute for your regular dock. We still wouldn't sacrifice the $25 asking price at the altar of cable freedom, but the more important question is, would you?
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Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 preview: First look

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 preview: First look

Introduction

With the X10 Sony Ericsson have gone from zero to hundred in a split second. While they may know their way around high-end devices, pulling off an undertaking such as the XPERIA X10 must have been a special challenge. And they have yet to get to the finish.
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 official photos
The thing is that Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 is the first Android smartphone by Sony Ericsson. It's also a Snapdragon first for the company, and they've even come up with a first of its kind proprietary Android UI. Making the X10 a reality seems like a long way full of potential pitfalls for a company that hasn't still recovered from its financial woes.
But the XPERIA X10 or Rachael, or X3, or whatever it has been called in the long months of development, seems like a device that's worth all the hard work.
Even more so, X10 will not be a solitary device but more of a high-flying start for a full-blown platform of Android devices with their own distinct interface and user experience. That kinda sounds familiar. A year and a half ago, we were again there listening to Sony Ericsson presenting the XPERIA X1 in much the similar words. Well, let's hope they'll have better luck with starting off and developing this new part of their portfolio this time.
We had the pleasure of attending a very limited press event held in London, at which Sony Ericsson presented their latest and greatest before they showcase it for the general public. Much like attending a press-only movie screener we had the opportunity to gather some first-hand impressions of what is probably going to be the Sony Ericsson flagship next year. But before making our first go at the XPERIA X10, let's recap its features.

Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 at a glance:

  • General: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, UMTS 900/1900/2100 MHz, HSDPA, HSUPA
  • Form factor: Touchscreen bar phone
  • Dimensions: 119 x 63 x 13 mm, 135 g
  • Display: 4" 65K-color TFT capacitive touchscreen, 854 x 480 pixels
  • Platform: Qualcomm QSD8250 Snapdragon 1 GHz processor
  • OS: Android 1.6 (Donut)
  • Memory: 1GB storage, 256MB RAM, microSD card slot, 8GB card included in the retail box
  • Camera: 8 megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash and face detection
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, standard microUSB port, GPS receiver with A-GPS, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Misc: Sony Ericsson custom social networking and media UI, built-in accelerometer
There have been numerous leaks about the XPERIA X10 so chances are you already know most of those specs well enough. As to the few new ones, let us assure you that some of those came as a surprise to us as well.
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 unveiled Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 unveiled Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 unveiled Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 unveiled 
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 presentation for the press
Take the Android OS version, for instance. Despite all the hopes for getting the latest and greatest of the Android crop, Sony Ericsson are serving a cold meal to all the gadget lovers out there. They refused to comment any further on the matter but perhaps all is not lost. Our best guess is they'll have some hard time adjusting their proprietary UI for Android 2.0 (Eclair) so they prefer to stick to 1.6 for the time being in an effort to get the XPERIA X10 out in the market as soon as possible.
And the current plans for the X10 availability say Q1 2010. Yup, missing the holiday season and shipping the handset during the tight-pocketed January and February is certainly the last thing they'd like to do, but proper product development obviously demands it.
Speaking of which, the Sony Ericsson X10 units presented at the event were devilishly fast in all Android tasks and applications, but the proprietary UI by Sony Ericsson clearly needed a lot more work.
But let's not waste any more time and jump into the physical details of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10

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Acer neoTouch review: The dragon within

Acer neoTouch review: The dragon within

Introduction

It must be sweet October for Microsoft, with the launch of WinMo 6.5 on the 6th followed by the desktop Windows 7 on the 22nd. Acer are quick to sneak into the spotlight and make the most of the primetime coverage. Their neoTouch is leading a small PocketPC fleet, all powered by 6.5.
But it's the flagship of course to focus all the attention and the neoTouch should be conscious of its task. If you want it all you need to be prepared to take it - all the glory and all the enemy fire. The neoTouch is riding on the wings of a dragon but entering a territory long claimed by others.
The Acer neoTouch is not just the next in the growing line of Windows Mobile 6.5 handsets. It's the top device of a company that's determined to enter the mobile phone game with a bang. The 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU is a great way to start and the other ingredients look quite on par: complete connectivity options, spacious high-res screen and something becoming fairly typical for smartphones these days - a 5 megapixel snapper.
Acer neoTouch Acer neoTouch Acer neoTouch 
Acer neoTouch official photos
Today Windows Mobile is all about handset manufacturers customizing the OS with their own proprietary interface, such as the popular TouchFLO by HTC, Samsung's TouchWiz and the LG S-Class. Acer have given the neoTouch their own homescreen, brand new Phonebook and Organizer app (called Agenda), along with a neat Preferences menu and Communication manager.
But first, let's go over what the Acer neoTouch does and doesn't do. PocketPC spec sheets are quite a reading but potential deal breakers won't be overlooked either.

Key features:

  • 3.8" 65K-color resistive TFT touchscreen, WVGA 480 x 800 pixels
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 with Acer Homescreen, Contacts, Agenda and Gallery
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor, 256MB RAM, 512MB ROM (300MB user available)
  • 5 megapixel auto focus camera with LED flash, geotagging, image stabilizer
  • VGA video recording @ 30fps
  • Quad-band GSM support
  • Tri-band 3G with HSDPA (7.2Mbps) and HSUPA (5.76 Mbps) support
  • Wi-Fi with DLNA technology
  • Built-in GPS with A-GPS functionality
  • microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
  • FM radio with RDS
  • Bluetooth and USB v2.0
  • 3.5mm standard audio jack, TV-out functionality
  • Ambient light sensor, proximity sensor for screen auto turn-off
  • Accelerometer sensor for automatic UI rotation
  • Smart dial
  • Office document editor (but no PDF viewer)
  • Full Flash support in the web browser (IE)
  • Top-notch audio output quality

Main disadvantages:

  • Not enough user interface customization
  • No camera lens cover
  • Poor photo and video quality
  • microSD slot is under the back cover
  • No DivX/XviD video support out-of-the-box
  • No navigation software, even Google Maps is not preinstalled
  • No active stylus
  • High-gloss body panels are a fingerprint magnet
  • Poor ringing volume
The neoTouch is the first Snapdragon device we're reviewing but the bigger debut is Acer themselves. Since February 2009 - when they made headlines at the Barcelona WMC - Acer have released 4 handsets all in all that have no corresponding entry in the Eten glofish lineup. (It was the acquisition of Eten that put Acer on the mobile phone map.) And we're looking at one of them making a strong claim to challenge the big ones in the PocketPC game.
Acer neoTouch Acer neoTouch Acer neoTouch Acer neoTouch 
Acer neoTouch in our office
The Acer credentials as leading laptop manufacturer will have the neoTouch - and the phones to follow - held to a rather high standard. We're dealing with a debut but it looks bold enough at least on paper. And we won't mind another keen compatriot rivalry along the lines of Samsung and LG. Of course, HTC are well ahead at this point but Acer look like they should be taken seriously.
But much like every other Windows Mobile smartphone out there, the Acer neoTouch has it strong and weak points. You can be sure we will explore both of them, on the pages to follow.

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Nokia 6760 slide review: Compact messaging

Nokia 6760 slide review: Compact messaging

Introduction

One of a kind would be a massive overstatement but there's something about the Nokia 6760 slide that's clearly against the usual run of things. Full QWERTY keyboards are an increasingly common sight on Symbian smartphones so this can't be it. However, the Nokia 6760 slide is a generic messenger - noting to do with Nseries, Eseries or even XpressMusic.
Secondly, the 6760 slide was first seen and used in the US as Nokia Surge. It usually takes quite a while for Nokia handsets to cross the pond and that makes the 6760 / Surge concept interesting enough. Whether it was custom made for AT&T and then given a go at home is irrelevant. Nokia now have a smart messenger ready to roll in the lower midrange.
Nokia 6760 slide Nokia 6760 slide Nokia 6760 slide Nokia 6760 slide 
Official photos of Nokia 6760 slide
The new 6760 slide (we'll use its European name from now on) is ultra compact and the full-QWERTY keyboard is backed by no numpad on top. The Internet and Messaging shortcuts up front are quite handy though and make perfect sense in both portrait and landscape hand hold. The neat messenger is trying to balance features, looks and ergonomics to offer all-round experience within budget. The absence of Wi-Fi support is a letdown, but the rest of the features are from the top drawer.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM support and 3G with HSDPA
  • 2.4" 16M-color TFT display of 320 x 240 pixel resolution
  • Full QWERTY keyboard
  • Very compact, friendly weight and shape
  • Fast and responsive interface
  • Built-in accelerometer, UI auto-rotate, turn-to-mute
  • 3 megapixel fixed focus camera, QVGA video recording @ 15fps
  • Symbian 9.3, S60 FP2
  • GPS with A-GPS support
  • Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP, microUSB
  • microSD card slot with microSDHC support
  • Stereo FM Radio with RDS
  • Balanced audio output quality
  • Large capacity Li-Ion 1500 mAh (BP-4L) battery

Main disadvantages

  • Clattering slide hinge, loose battery cover
  • No Wi-Fi
  • No alphanumeric keypad: impossible to dial with the keyboard closed
  • Basic fixed focus camera, no extra features (not even geotagging)
  • No USB charging
  • No smart dial (3rd party solutions are available)
The Symbian-driven Nokia 6760 slide has a responsive and fast user interface and offers various social networking integration. The good web browser and robust messaging should be welcomed by users with a solid data plan.
We called it a generic messenger and there's nothing really impressive about the idea behind this device - unless you've never seen or heard of E75 or 5730 XpressMusic. Not to mention the N97 mini.
Still, an ultra compact Symbian smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard seems to make sense. The 6760 slide certainly misses on some features but it does well to position itself as a typical carrier's handset. Fast data, solid messaging and friendly size will perhaps convince enough users they can live without WLAN. Plus, the 6760 slide styling seems to be trying to find middle ground between the too executive Eseries and too juvenile XpressMusic.
Nokia 6760 slide Nokia 6760 slide Nokia 6760 slide Nokia 6760 slide 
Nokia 6760 slide live shots
We called it ultra compact too and we mean it. It's hard to believe the 6760 slide is a Symbian smartphone to begin with. A formidable PocketPC like the Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO makes it look almost toy-like.
Nokia 6760 slide Nokia 6760 slide Nokia 6760 slide Nokia 6760 slide 
Friendly size is one of the Nokia 6760 slide key assets
If you find yourself interested in the new kid on the block, go ahead and take our guided tour of the Nokia 6760 slide. Symbian has little to no surprises perhaps but let's see how this little messenger handles and what it can do for you.

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HTC HD2 review: Portrait of a rockstar

HTC HD2 review: Portrait of a rockstar

Introduction

Quietly brilliant is what HTC like to call themselves and they've been giving enough proof lately. But allow us to disagree. The last thing to call the HD2 is quiet - the monster of a PocketPC simply screams rock'n'roll.
We just got a glimpse of the Snapdragon-powered giant in the preview we posted a few days back. It's now time to let it off the leash and hope we can keep up with its speed. The HTC HD2, a.k.a. Leo, is the company's first Snapdragon-based device and also the first Windows Mobile smartphone ever to have a capacitive touchscreen (read: super thumb-friendly).
A capacitive touchscreen on a PocketPC? No way? Well, you'd better get used to it because they are just going to keep on coming. The HTC HD2 may be the first of its kind but the next ones are just around the corner. And what's even more important, a capacitive screen gives WinMo unmatched and absolutely unexpected user friendliness. With the large screen, icons are big, almost huge, and you can easily thumb your way around the menu and apps.
HTC HD2 HTC HD2 HTC HD2
HTC HD2 official images
We've met the HD2 already and we guess it's ok to cut the civilities short. It's a device that likes to be in the thick of action and we're not paid to keep it idle either. The HD2 promises an exciting ride and it sure has horsepower to spare.

Key features

  • Huge 4.3" 65K-color WVGA glass-covered capacitive touchscreen
  • Multi-touch input
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional OS with Sense UI
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 1 GHz CPU and 448MB RAM
  • Quad-band GSM support
  • 3G with HSDPA 7.2Mbps
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS support
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and touch focus
  • VGA video recording at 30fps
  • microSD card slot
  • Standard microUSB port and Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • Great audio quality
  • MS Office Mobile document editor
  • Opera 9.5 web browser
  • YouTube client, Facebook and Twitter integration
  • Excellent video playback performance
  • Good battery life

Main disadvantages

  • It's a pretty large phone
  • Poor sunlight legibility
  • 65K color limitation of display has color gradients banding
  • Card slot under the battery cover
  • Disappointing photo and video quality
  • No dedicated camera key and no lens cover
  • No DivX/XviD video support out-of-the-box
  • Preloaded CoPilot Live navigation software is a trial version
  • No secondary video-call camera
  • No voice dialing
  • No handwriting recognition
  • Dodgy web Flash support
The HTC HD2 may be a tad smaller than the monstrous Toshiba TG01 but that's nowhere near compact. And it all comes down to one simple thing: the 4.3" display. The huge touchscreen is an absolute treat but may be not that simple in the end. In tablet terms, the HD2 is sweet to use landscape but not every user will be happy with singlehanded operation and actual phone calls. But then you look at how thin it is, what it's packing inside and perhaps it doesn't seem so big. You know you'll adjust and get used to it in the same way that people got used to the less than compact size of the iPhone.
HTC HD2 HTC HD2 HTC HD2 
HTC HD2 live shots
And while we're at it, a side by side comparison of both devices may not be enough to convey the size issues of the HD2. In all fairness, a phone this size is not the most comfortable to hold next to your year but it's an impressive package that's worth the inconvenience. Against the iPhone, the HD2 has a much larger and higher-res touchscreen, as well as a faster processor, multi tasking and a 5 megapixel snapper with dual LED flash. HTC have also done a lot to transform TouchFLO into their new Sense UI, but it still lags slightly behind the user interface of the iPhone.
HTC HD2 HTC HD2 HTC HD2 HTC HD2 
The HTC HD2 is probing tablet boundaries
One thing's for sure, the HTC HD2 is trying to widen the PocketPC horizon and remove the stigma of WinMo unfriendliness. We've seen very few phones that could possibly live up to the scale of that task. So, it's time to open the box and meet the handset in person. We're back after the jump with unboxing, design and construction. It's HD2 time.

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Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO review: Pro toolbox

Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO review: Pro toolbox

Introduction

Now that we have the B7610 OmniaPRO running on the much-awaited Windows Mobile 6.5, we're finally up to speed. Omnia smartphones have a pretty wide reach already and they are known for their WinMo customizations and feature-rich specs sheets. The B7610 OmniaPRO however was the first family member to sport a full hardware keyboard and by the looks of it, Samsung have done a great job.
Side-sliding or not, the B7610 OmniaPRO is definitely a capable device in both hardware and software equipment. The QWERTY keyboard however is a convenience tool usually reserved for the competition's high-end offerings, so you can bet the OmniaPRO will have to tackle some really capable contenders. But you can easily tell, it a tough nut to crack as well.
     
Samsung B7610 Omnia Pro official photos

Key features:

  • Quad-band GSM support and 3G with HSDPA
  • 3.5" 16M-color (65K effective) AMOLED display of 800 x 480 pixel resolution
  • Work & Life mode switch key
  • Full side sliding QWERTY keyboard
  • 800 MHz processor with dedicated graphics accelerator
  • 5 megapixel auto-focus camera with dual-LED flash and D1 video recording at 30 fps
  • Windows Mobile 6.5 fully skinned with TouchWiz UI
  • Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP, standard microUSB port
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • 2GB built-in storage, 256 MB RAM, microSD (up to 32GB), 8GB card included
  • Wi-Fi with DLNA
  • GPS receiver with A-GPS
  • Built-in accelerometer for UI auto-rotate and turn-to-mute
  • TV out functionality
  • Nice audio output quality
  • Large capacity Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery

Main disadvantages:

  • Bulky and heavy
  • 65K color limitation of display has color gradients banding
  • Poor sunlight legibility
  • Comes with OmniaLITE-grade HSDPA speed, and no HSUPA support
  • microSD card slot under the battery cover
  • The display and back pannel are finger print magnets
  • Performance under WinMo 6.5 not a good as it was under 6.1
  • No preinstalled SatNav software
  • No voice dialing
  • No web Flash support
  • No stereo speakers
Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO Samsung B7610 OmniaPRO 
Samung B7610 OmniaPRO at ours
Who is the OmniaPRO is a multiple choice question. And there is more than one correct answer. The original Omnia has produced such an offspring choosing names became a problem. They even had to name one of the kids after the uncle. If you've been keeping track, you'd know the OmniaPRO has an Armani-branded alter-ego - the B7620. But well, Giorgio was lucky. The B7610 OmniaPRO less so.
Now, there's nothing wrong with the name except that there are another couple of Pros in the family. And perhaps too many of them in other houses.
We've never had a doubt about the quality of the Omnia genes but such a strong and versatile lineup perhaps exceeds the most optimistic scenarios. Samsung are obviously not only trying to update their portfolio but confront their key market rivals by matching competing devices spec for spec.
The B7610 OmniaPRO will be engaging the enemy on the high end of the performance and pricing scale. And that's where even the smallest details count. The B7610 doesn't have a unique defining feature like the Omnia HD to give it an edge against some unforgiving rivals. So, it will have to squeeze every bit of performance out of its system. It can count though on Samsung's solid record in multimedia and interface customization.
Speaking of which, the custom-made TouchWiz looks and feels better than ever. So much that it's worth the spoiler. And the mode switch for toggling Work and Leisure is keen to make a point that this here Pro knows good fun too.
So, the B7610 OmniaPRO will be trying to make its mark. And so will be Windows Mobile yet again. Because the OmniaPRO is certainly not running against PocketPCs only - the competition's finest will stand on its way. That's Symbian, and Android, and Maemo.

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