Sony Mobile’s sales chief, Dennis van Schie, has gone on the record with a pledge that just about crosses the line from marketing to manifesto. Speaking to the Financial Times Deutschland, he said Sony “will create, in the near future, a flagship model that can compete with Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S III.” Such a claim doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of the manufacturer’s existing top-end offering, the fast yet flawed Xperia TL, but it does raise our hopes for CES, since FTD reports that the superphone in question will be presented in early 2013 at both the Las Vegas show and Mobile World Congress. On a related note, van Schie also promised that Sony’s chaotic array of online storefronts would become better integrated by the end of 2013, with every user being able to use a single ID across all their devices to access content — something that sounds simple, but evidently isn’t.
Xoom 2 reboot all the time Video Rating: 3 / 5Related Posts:
The update cycle of consumer electronics can make a mess of your Kickstarter plans, but one new project that just launched is designed to provide a useful products that remains useful no matter what changes come down the road, in terms of modes of connectivity or hardware design. It’s the CompleteDock, and I had the chance to sneak a peek at an early, functional prototype at Disrupt SF this year.
I noticed it at a booth for a cloud services startup, and was immediately intrigued by its solid aluminum construction. It looked like a dock that was immovable, implacable, and designed to stand the test of time. And after going in for a closer look, it turns out that’s exactly what it was, but also with a unique, modal twist that means it can be used with just about any gadget out there.
Here’s how it works: The CompleteDock’s business end (where it gets connected to its data/power cable) is swappable, meaning you can change it out for a 30-pin dock connector to USB cable, micro-USB, or an Apple iPhone 5 Lightning connector. These will be available to purchase separately in case you buy new devices, but there’s also another wonderful benefit for backers: The first change is free. Meaning when you change devices initially, you’re covered.
There’s also a support that can switch out to accommodate different devices and different angles, and both a mini and full-sized version, depending on your needs, but for my money the regular version looks great with either tablets or smartphones.
The best part? This is already a real device, which I saw, and handled in person thanks to project founder Gligor Dacevski. The company has a manufacturing facility with CNC machines ready to pump them out. Compared to a lot of projects I’ve backed, they’re way ahead of the game, and actually stand a fair chance of hitting their December 2012 ship date.
I actually miss using my iPhone 4S dock, and I haven’t found a suitable replacement. The Elevation Dock looks promising, especially with its upcoming iPhone 5 compatibility update, but the CompleteDock is more multi-purpose, and seems sturdier, too. Plus, this may be naive, but I’m hoping this is the last dock I’ll ever buy.Related Posts:
Question by bigjay71: Hobby Robotics kit. Soldered circuit and assembled but doesn’t work. Troubleshooting ideas/tips? For my high school physics class we have been assigned a project where we must solder and assemble a circuit, so we picked an Escape Robot Kit. We soldered and assemble and it won’t work at all. There must be a problem with how we soldered or something. Any ideas of how to potentially quickly solve the situation?
Answer by NumbatIt will take as long as it takes.
Find a DVM and measure every voltage on the circuit with respect to ground (or -ve supply). Pencil them in on the circuit. Then sit down and consider how the circuit works and see if the voltages stack up. If you have a wrong voltage, look around that stage for an error. Work your way back towards the input until the voltages are correct.
Assume that the design and circuit are correct. Don’t attempt to modify the design. Just look for errors on your part. Don’t discount faulty components. Quite often new, out of the box components can be faulty.
Give your answer to this question below!Related Posts:
With the introduction of the $ 499 8.9-inch Kindle HD with LTE, Amazon now has a device with the same price tag as the new iPad. Of course, the devices are very different when it comes to capacity, connectivity and screen size but the consumers will have no choice but to compare them.
Yet, contrarily to what many have said, Amazon is not trying to be yet another Apple wannabe. The Kindle announcements were not a message for Apple. In reality, Amazon has found its own way in the hardware business by staying true to its identity. And it is doing it at full speed.
Amazon’s strategy has been clear for a years. Ever since the prices of the Kindle e-readers started to go down until hitting the sweet $ 99spot, it was clear that Amazon was selling and subsidizing hardware devices in order to sell content.
At first it was just e-books, now it is movies and MP3s as well, through the Amazon Prime subscription or with a more traditional per-item purchase. In order to drive prices down, Amazon started selling all of its devices with ads — euphemistically called special offers — on the lock screen.
Now all devices from the $ 69 entry-level Kindle to the $ 499 Kindle HD are bundled with ads. Users slowly but surely accepted those lock screen wallpapers. Amazon has to be careful not to annoy users too much even if it means lower prices.
Indeed, Amazon has to foster a great experience because it is what matters to the company. If Kindle Fire buyers stop using their devices a month after acquiring them, then it means that the company has lost its bet.
That is the reason why Amazon is hiring a lot of people on its hardware projects. The company needs good hardware in order to attract customers, and, even more important, to keep them in the Amazon ecosystem. The worse scenario is when Kindle Fire buyers find that a Nexus tablet would be much better for their needs and start abandoning their devices.
Building good devices now is important so that the vendor lock-in effect can kick in for the years to come. But Amazon’s lock-in is very different from Apple’s or Google’s.Amazon builds excitement by hinting at new stuff, not by being secretive
Apple is known for being very secretive about its plans for new products. Even Apple employees don’t know what the other teams are working on and security measures are implemented to drastically protect access to buildings on Apple campus.
But Amazon is not taking the same approach. Even though Amazon employees tend to spoil the fun by sending too much information to tech blogs, Amazon has adopted a very novel strategy in the days prior to the Kindle Fire HD unveiling. For example, they got all the tech press’ attention by stating that the original Kindle Fire was sold out on August 30. They made sure that everyone knew that new models were coming up — it was purely a communication move as devices can’t sell out, except if the company stops production.
Another interesting move is the Amazon ad that featured the new Kindle devices the day before the press conference. People talk about a new iPhone or iPad months before their announcements. Amazon cannot expect the same kind of anticipation and excitement.
Instead of adopting the same strategy as Apple without the same results, they found their own way and it has worked well. The coverage of the new Kindle devices was much more important than the coverage of Motorola’s or Nokia’s press conference — even in mainstream media outlets.DNA difference: Amazon has a unique approach to hardware and content
One of the major difference in style from other companies comes from Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. At the press conference, he delivered a solid presentation that showcased what makes Amazon so different from other companies. He is both a charismatic and focused leader, proud of his company’s products when he unveiled them to the public. If Bezos’ original idea with Amazon was to sell all the books in the world through the Internet, he clearly believes in its Kindle devices as well.
Successful tech companies have a strong identity that separates them from the others — from Facebook’s hacker culture to Apple at the intersection of liberal arts and technology. “One thing I should tell you is that our approach is our approach, and we don’t even claim it’s the right approach,” Bezos said to AllThingsD.
Amazon is first and foremost a retail company and it understands that well by, for example, bundling movie streaming with two-day delivery in Amazon Prime or putting Kindle ads everywhere on Amazon.com so that it is only a click away if you want to add it to your cart.
But something odd happened. Amazon became one of the most technology-focused company due to its infrastructure needs to power the tenth most popular website in the world. With Amazon Web Services, the company started providing to other websites one of the most powerful and most used platforms. Instagram, Netflix, Foursquare, Pinterest, Heroku and countless other services rely on the platform.
Being the go-to platform is one of the inspirations behind Amazon’s content strategy. Instead of thinking about putting stores together to please their users like Google does, Amazon is trying to build a coherent content platform with many ways to consume content — subscriptions, rentals, Kindle Singles, Kindle Serials, etc. — and believes in that goal. They have the resources to be present on every front, contrarily to Netflix.
People won’t buy Amazon devices because they like the operating system or the hardware. They will buy an Amazon device because they find it so much easier to watch movies or read books using Amazon’s content platform. It comes with a few conditions: the hardware needs to be on par with other manufacturers, Amazon should keep hardware prices low without bothering the user too much with ads and the company should stay focused on making the best content platform in the world. That is why Amazon’s DNA is unique and totally different from every other tablet or e-reader manufacturers — especially Apple.Related Posts:
Because in the not so distant future there will come a time where EVERY product is available in a Star Wars variety, here’s a 76€ (~$ 97) R2-D2 themed hard suitcase from Salvador Bachiller. Except it’s not officially licensed so you expect George Lucas to be on top of removing them from the market in…3…2…actually his people have probably already been on it since yesterday. Me? I’ve been on a bender since yesterday. Jk jk — July. What month is it now anyways — 10?
Thanks to Krechan, who uses black garbage bags for suitcases because people are less likely to bother you at the airport if you look homeless. Except security. Security will still put their fingers in your ass.
Motorola made plenty of waves when it introduced the Droid RAZR for Verizon last year, and somehow I doubt AT&T was very pleased with that move. With that one launch, Motorola instantly made AT&T’s high-end line of Android-powered Atrix smartphones look chunky and downright un-sexy in comparison
Now with the Atrix HD AT&T has its own vaguely RAZR-esque device to push to the masses, but how does it stack up against its forebears? Or, better yet, how does it compare to the devices that occupy the top tiers of AT&T’s smartphone portfolio? As it turns out, the answer is “pretty damned well.”
- 4.5-inch 720p LCD display with ColorBoost
- Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich with Motorola’s custom UI
- 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon MSM8960 processor
- 1GB of RAM
- 8GB of internal storage, expandable with microSD cards
- 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front-facing camera
- Runs on AT&T’s LTE network
- MSRP: $ 99 with two-year contract, available as of July 15
- Motorola didn’t screw with Ice Cream Sandwich too much
- Excellent display
- Surprisingly strong spec sheet
- Uninspired design
- The camera is generally pretty lousy
- Battery life isn’t the greatest
I’m a sucker for a handsome phone, and to put it plainly, the Atrix HD isn’t much of a looker. It’s not ugly by any stretch (it’s far too inoffensive for that) but it seems like a considerable step backward from the progress Motorola made with devices like the Droid RAZR.
That said, the Droid RAZR’s influence is undeniable — if one of those svelte, angular devices suddenly got chubbier and softer around the edges, you would have an Atrix HD.
But let’s put those gripes aside for a moment, because there’s another one to dig into. The Atrix’s impressive 4.5-inch LCD display (ensconced in a protective layer of Corning Gorilla Glass) takes up most of the device’s face, but it seems a hair smaller than it actually is because it’s bounded by a pretty substantial bezel. In a way though, that bezel is something of a trademark of the Atrix family — the very first one had quite a bezel on it too, as did the Atrix 2.
A notification LED and the 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera sit to the left and right of the Atrix’s earpiece respectively, while a Motorola logo squeezes between those components and the top of the display. Centered just below the display is an AT&T logo, which happens to look an awful lot like a capacitive button — after years of using iPhones, my thumb instinctively reached for it a few times before I managed to get it accustomed to its surroundings.
Nestled at the very top of the device are ports aplenty since Motorola opted to stick the headphone, microUSB and microHDMI ports up there. The microSIM and microSD card slots are nestled under a pull-out plastic tab along the Atrix’s bottom left edge. Meanwhile, the volume rocker and the infuriating sleep-wake button sit high on the device’s right edge; I say infuriating because pressing either too high or too low along the button’s ribbed edge won’t bring the Atrix to life.
Fortunately, the Atrix’s rear end is far less problematic — unless of course you’re not a fan of the patterned Kevlar that takes up a majority of the space. Save for a thin and chintzy-feeling layer of plastic that runs around the rear’s outer edges, the only other thing not covered in the scratch-resistant material is a gently sloping plateau containing the 8-megapixel camera pod, LED flash, and rear speaker.
While the Atrix HD looks downright plump in comparison to its Verizon cousin, that doesn’t mean it has the weight to go with it. In fact, the situation is quite the opposite — at 4.9 ounces (the same as the iPhone 4/4S) the Atrix feels almost disconcertingly light given its curvy physique. I know, it’s a tough job to strike a comfortable balance between size and weight, but the device’s overall feel doesn’t do much to inspire confidence.Software
After seeing Motorola clutter up its Android devices with its overbearing custom UIs for years, playing with the Atrix’s tweaked spin on Ice Cream Sandwich is like being able to breathe easy for the first time. It’s certainly not stock ICS, but Motorola has apparently decided to leave most of Google’s handiwork well enough alone — frankly, good on them.
Even more surprising is that what Motorola added to the mix is either generally unobtrusive or genuinely useful. Take for instance the small pair of arrows that now live next to certain apps like the phone dialer or the stock web browser. They’re there as a little visual hint, as swiping up or down on those icons allows users to jump into a quick view of information related to that app — for the dialer, a swipe brings up a list of favorite contacts, while a swipe on the browser icon displays the user’s bookmarks. Sure, they’re mostly things that users can set a widget for, but adding a subtle way to easily access and hide that kind of information is terribly thoughtful.
Also — and this may be a remarkably dorky admission — but Motorola’s default Circles widget is a mighty nice touch. The widget’s three circles display time, weather, and remaining battery life respectively, but as with those app icons, swiping up and down on individual circles lets users switch between different bits of pertinent data. Prefer a digital time readout over an analog one? Swipe away. Want to switch from a battery meter to a data usage tracker? You know what to do.
Motorola also transplanted SmartActions to Ice Cream Sandwich, which (if you haven’t yet heard) allows the device to execute certain user-defined actions when triggered by information like time or location. I’ve always fancied myself as more a “go with the flow” kind of guy, so I admittedly don’t rely on the automation feature much, but it’s simple enough to create an action for every stop or random event in your day.
Still, It should be known that there’s a peculiar sense of fun to be had in cobbling together new Actions, just because of the sheer flexibility afforded to the app’s users. Be on the lookout for SmartActions notifications though, as the app will keep suggesting new possibilities to you whether you like them or not until you pop into its settings and prevent it from doing so.
Perhaps the only truly clumsy part of Motorola’s UI is how users add new homescreen pages. You see, the Atrix HD has two of them set up out of the gate, and swiping to the right from the main page brings the options of adding a blank one or choosing from a series of homescreen templates to fire up. The problem here is that the transaction is noticeably jerky, especially considering that navigating through menus and apps is otherwise incredibly smooth. There are arguably cleaner ways to handle this process — a spin on HTC’s classic “hold down the home button” approach comes to mind — but it’s a minor gripe at best.
Add some redesigned icons, and you’ve got Motorola’s take on Ice Cream Sandwich in a nutshell. Apologies if I’m gushing a bit — I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I don’t like what manufacturers usually do to stock Android, so its little surprise that I’ve quickly grown to like Motorola’s “make minor, thoughtful improvements” approach.
As with every other smartphone AT&T has sunk its metaphorical teeth into, the Atrix HD comes with its fair share of bloatware. Most of those pesky apps can be uninstalled without issue (hallelujah!), and the rest can be disabled and hidden without too much effort. Sure, it’s not quite as good (or as satisfying) as removing them outright, but the little victories are better than none at all.Camera
The Atrix HD has some great things going for it, but top-notch camera functionality just isn’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong — the camera will do in a pinch when you absolutely have to snap a photo, but its performance is ultimately underwhelming.
The issues here are numerous. Autofocus was a bit on the screwy side, for one — when left in full auto mode, the camera easily homes in on nearby objects but struggles to produce a sharp image when trying to focus on something farther away. White balance too seemed off, which sometimes led to predominantly white shots taking on a blue cast. Low light performance was similarly disappointing, with a fair amount of grain visible once light dims below optimal levels.
In fairness, it’s not all bad — like with other Ice Cream Sandwich devices snapping shots is incredibly quick, and videos recorded in 1080p don’t come out half-bad all things considered. On the off chance you think that a good camera is the single most important feature a smartphone can have, you’d do well to steer clear of the Atrix HD. Otherwise, the weak-put-passable camera is a notable sore spot in an otherwise solid device.Display
While I’m more than happy to knock the bezel that runs around it, I can’t do the same for the Atrix HD’s 4.5-inch 720p display — it’s yet another pleasant surprise in a phone that seems designed to confound expectations.
As usual for TFT LCD panels, the Atrix HD’s display lacks the deep, sumptuous blacks seen in AMOLED displays, but white levels were consistently bright. On top of that, the display’s combination of size and resolution means everything is nice and crisp. To be more specific, the display features a pixel density of 326 ppi — handily beating powerhouses like the Galaxy S III (306 ppi) and matching handsets like the iPhone 4/4S.
Then there’s the color situation. Everything is nice and vivid (especially the tweaked app icons the Atrix is laden with), and colors remained bright as I bounced from viewing angle to viewing angle. Motorola also saw fit to throw in their new Colorboost functionality, which pumps up color saturation for more vivid images.
The Atrix is far from the first handset to try something like this — Sony’s Xperia ion tried the same thing with its Mobile Bravia engine but it pushed saturation to nearly lurid levels. Motorola’s Colorboost enhancements thankfully didn’t push things quite that far so users can expect and images visuals to pop instead of going outright nuclear. That said, not everyone may enjoy that additional visual flair and there’s no way to disable it, so it’s definitely worth taking a look at in person before taking the plunge.Performance
Well now — the Atrix HD may not look like much of a contender, but there’s some real horsepower packed inside that unassuming frame.
Motorola wasn’t very forthcoming with processor details when the device first popped up on their website on one fateful July evening, but AT&T later confirmed that the Atrix HD runs on the same dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon MSM8960 chipset as seen in heavyweights like the HTC One X and the Galaxy S III.
That’s quite a catch for the budget-conscious handset, as it regularly puts up Quadrant scores just north of 5000 (the average of five trials was 5084) — not shabby at all, especially compared to the One X’s five trial average of 4995 and the U.S. Galaxy S III’s average of 5063.
That said, there was virtually no lag to be found while navigating between through menus and swiping through multiple pages of apps. Firing up and playing through some Grand Theft Auto III and Minecraft Pocket Edition was similarly smooth, as were my usual test videos (i.e. old episodes of Doctor Who). Suffice it to say, the Atrix should have no trouble keeping up with even the most demanding daily grinds.
As far as the Atrix HD’s network performance goes, I found little to complain about. It’s always sort of a crapshoot testing from my particular corner of New Jersey (especially because AT&T hasn’t yet seen fit to bring LTE online around here), but the Atrix HD managed to pull down an average of about 9.6 Mbps down and a strangely slow 859 Kbps up. Call quality too offered few disappointments — calls were generally very clear for people on both ends, though there tended to be a bit of audible buzz from time to time. Maximum call volume could have been a little higher though, but on the whole I had no trouble nearing people on the line, and vice versa.
I’m a bit of a stickler for nice speakers on smartphones, and the three-hole speaker embedded into the Atrix HD’s rear is decidedly above-average. It’s far from perfect (audio tended to be a tad on the echoey side) but it’s plenty loud enough or a little grooving on the go — something that plenty of other handsets have trouble with.Battery
Though not as disappointing as the camera, the Atrix HD’s battery did skew toward the underwhelming side of things. Like its slim Verizon-bound cousin, the Atrix sports a sealed 1780 mAh battery underneath that Kevlar black plate. That battery gave Jordan some trouble when she reviewed the Droid RAZR way back when, but the situation isn’t quite as rough this time around.
The Atrix HD managed to plug along for 5 hours and 10 minutes of our usual stress test — an automated series of Google Image Searches with the display set to 50% brightness. Meanwhile the Atrix HD only lasted just under five hours in our video stress test, in which the device loops a 720p video at 50% screen brightness and with volume cranked all the way up.
When it came to getting me through a normal day of calling, web browsing, checking emails, and sending obnoxious text messages, the Atrix managed to hang in there for just under eleven hours of on-again-off-again use before finally going dark. As always, your experience is going to differ from mine — that ten hours was enough to see me through most days but if you’re the type to unplug your phone and start your day when the roosters crow, you’ll almost definitely have to reach for that charger before day’s end.
Really, the most frustrating thing about the battery is that Motorola could easily have gone for something bigger without sacrificing too much in size. With its 8.4mm waistline, the Atrix HD is just over half a millimeter thinner than the Droid RAZR Maxx. Some concessions probably had to be made for the updated hardware that went into the thing, but would it have killed Motorola to pop in a slightly more substantial battery?Conclusion
Let’s touch briefly for a moment on what the Atrix HD isn’t. It’s not the kind of that phone will turn heads as you walk down the street. It’s not the most solid feeling device you’ll ever pick up. It’s not a terribly great camera, either.
It is, however, a hell of a phone for just $ 100. What the Atrix HD lacks in style (and it lacks a lot in style) it makes up for with plenty of substance — a mostly untouched flavor of Ice Cream Sandwich, a surprisingly strong spec sheet, and a great display make it a wallet-friendly dark horse that stacks up favorably to the carrier’s heavyweights. While an extra $ 100 will afford you a device that combines striking looks and some serious horsepower, the Atrix HD is an excellent choice for those who couldn’t care less about style.Related Posts:
Apple filed a stealth lawsuit last summer alleging that the Motorola Xoom violated the design patent that underpins the iPad. While Apple has had some success leveling its big patent gun against Samsung, the same can’t be said for Motorola: a German court just declared that the reference Android tablet doesn’t infringe on Apple’s design claim. The ruling isn’t a complete win for Motorola, however, as the court wouldn’t invalidate the patent — it could theoretically be leveled against other tablets in the future. The loss will still sting for Apple, which now has to resort to a multi-touch patent claim (among others) if it wants to make Motorola feel the heat in Mannheim.
Filed under: Tablet PCs
When we first detailed the Ouya $ 99 Android-based game console yesterday, we had a feeling it would become a hot property over at Kickstarter. But still, there’s no way we anticipated this: the project has just raised $ 2 million in its first day, having sped past its initial $ 950,000 goal within a record-breaking 12 hours. Now, in an email to backers, the project has asked for feedback on its “stretch goals” — in other words, what it should do if it makes even more cash and is able to set its sights on loftier ambitions. If you’re a backer then check your email, if you’re a potential backer then check the source link, and if you’re a traditional VC then weep.
Filed under: Gaming
Apple has been chasing NFC patents for years, but it’s just now been granted a US patent for its own approach to a transportation check-in — one of the most common uses of the technology in the real world. The filing describes a theoretical iTravel app that would store reservation and ticket information for just about any vehicle and stop along the way: planes, trains and (rented) automobiles would just have the traveler tap an NFC-equipped device to hop onboard, and the hotel at the end of the line would also take credentials through a gentle bump. Besides the obvious paper-saving measures, iTravel could help skip key parts of the airport security line by providing passport information, a fingerprint or anything else screeners might want to see while we’d otherwise be juggling our suitcases.
It all sounds ideal, but before you start booking that trip to the South Pacific with ambitions of testing an NFC-equipped 2012 iPhone, remember this: the patent was originally filed in 2008. We clearly haven’t seen iTravel manifest itself as-is, and recent murmurs from the Wall Street Journal have suggested that Apple isn’t enthusiastic about the whole NFC-in-commerce idea even today. Still, with Passbook waiting in the wings, the patent can’t help but fuel speculation that Apple is getting more serious about an iPhone with near-field wireless in the future.