Last summer, when we were preparing our extensive coverage of the upcoming dual-core smartphone chipsets, NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 seemed positioned best to surprise, but compared to the other underdogs, like Marvel and Freescale. Let’s get this out of the way right now – Tegra 2 is not better than the upcoming dual-core SoCs from Qualcomm (Snapdragon), Samsung (Orion), or Texas Instruments (OMAP4).
When we dove in the white papers about the platform, we found out that despite all the technical hype about eight independent processors or offloading tasks to the second core, Tegra 2 was capable of achieving 140 hours of continuous audio on a standard 2000mAh battery, while the dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragons and Samsung Orion, as well as OMAP4 are achieving 120 hours, but from a 1000mAh battery. Not to mention the graphics department, where the upcoming Samsung Orion whoops Tegra 2 five times in terms of pure triangles per second count – theoretical 450 million for Orion, versus 90 million for Tegra 2.
Still, despite not being the most powerful dual-core chipset by design, NVIDIA had one huge advantage before the competition – its ARM-based silicon with two cores was ready maybe a year before the others started sampling or shipping to manufacturers. This enabled them to sell around Tegra 2, until they attracted the attention of Motorola, LG, and, ultimately, Google. Becoming the reference platform for Android 3.0 Honeycomb on the Motorola XOOM allowed NVIDIA to leapfrog Samsung and Qualcomm, and there is barely a high-end Android tablet now that won’t be having Tegra 2 inside, with the notable exception of the 7″ Asus MeeMO, which, however, is not coming until June.
What’s more, the reference platform status trickled NVIDIA’s chipset into the most-advanced phones announced in the last two days as well. The LG Optimus 2X, Motorola ATRIX 4G, and Motorola DROID BIONIC all share the common Tegra 2 platform. The LG Optimus 2X was announced last month in Korea, which makes it the first modern dual-core phone to hit the market (Nokia had some dual-CPU phones before), while the Motorola ATRIX 4G for AT&T and Motorola DROID BIONIC for Verizon will be close second.
So what can dual-core do for you? Well, two cores have the power to process the huge amount of information coming from larger camera sensors than what we have now, up to 18MP. Not that you will need as many, but the additional horsepower also makes full HD video recording and playback in 1080p now possible with ease. However, if you ask us, HD video recording is already more than enough for everyday usage, and we have seen some pretty blurry videos, due to crappy camera sensors (cough, Acer Liquid Metal), be they HD or not. Not to mention full HD will eat your internal or added storage in no time.
The added benefit will come when the software starts getting written from the ground up for fully utilizing two cores, especially for gaming and other intensive tasks. NVIDIA demoed yesterday for Engadget the gaming capabilities of Tegra 2 on an LG Optimus 2X and a Motorola ATRIX 4G (segway: is 3G becoming a dirty word?), and things look pretty smooth, although these games look smooth on the single-core iPhone 4 as well, for example. Watch the video demo below.
What do you think – will the lack of dual-core prevent you from buying an otherwise perfectly capable device, or are you more inclined to wait and see what software and games get written for the two-core crowd, before you jump in?
In the U.S. smartphone market, there are three major trends: Android sales are up sharply, BlackBerry sales are down sharply and Apple iPhone sales remain steady. Over the last 6 months, according to Nielsen, Apple’s share of the U.S. smartphone market had grown just a bit from 27.9% to 28.6%. Android has soared from a 15% slice of the pie to 25.8% while RIM’s share has fallen sharply. RIM was in first place 6 months ago with 33.9% of sales and that figure is now 26.1%, dropping the manufacturer to 2nd place behind Apple and just a tad ahead of the hard charging Android.
What about the market share for phones just acquired in the last 6 months? The numbers are eerily similar to market share performance as the Apple iPhone accounted for 26.9% of smartphone sales, up from 20.9% in the last 6 months. During the same period Android surged from 27.8% of new U.S smartphones purchased to 40.8% and RIM dropped from #1 to #3.
Right now, Android has the attention in the U.S and with dual-core driven Android models coming and Gingerbread powered phones on the way, things could still improve for Google’s open source OS. Where would Android take more percentage from? RIM continues to be a strong possibility.
Looking at the choice of recent acquirers of smartphones in the last 6 months, Android has a better than 40% share in the U.S. smartphone market
Apple leads in U.S. smartphone marketshare over the last 6 months
The Samsung Galaxy Player, a soon-to-come iPod touch rival, will come first in Sammy’s homeland of South Korea next month with a rumored price tag of around $350 for the 8GB version. 16GB and 32GB will carry prices of around $405 and $490, respectively.
The price tag is not final, but if it remains the same, it would be hefty in comparison with the latest fourth generation 8 gig iPod touch, which sells for the comparatively humble $229 on Apple’s website. Samsung’s player could also be compared to the Samsung Galaxy S, which has similar specs, but a better Super AMOLED display, a 5 megapixel camera and – obviously – a phone and 3G internet function. The Galaxy S is available for some $580 off contract.
The main advantage of the Galaxy Player will be the 4-inch Super Clear LCD screen treated with Android Froyo, while sound is taken care of with SoundAlive audio enhancing technology. It is a mere week until the CES kicks off on January 6th, so hold your breath and don’t forget that we will be there to update you with hands-on reviews from the latest and greatest gadgets.
source: Samsung Hub
Verizon is continuing the buzz today by announcing that they will provide a “sneak speak” of their 4G LTE devices at CES during a webcast and Twitter updates on January 6 at 4pm Eastern. It will feature Dan Mead (president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless), Tony Melone (executive vice president and chief technology officer of Verizon), and Marni Walden (vice president and chief marketing officer of Verizon Wireless). Unfortunately, they aren’t disclosing which devices they will be talking about yet, but we can hope for some info about the HTC Thunderbolt, with its 4.3″ display and front-facing camera for video chats, and the Motorola Etna (Olympus), that is expect to come with Android 2.3 out of the box.
We’ll be at CES next week, so be sure to check back for further updates!
Source: Verizon Wireless
The biggest consumer electronics show in the world CES 2011 kicks off next Thursday, and will run through Sunday, January 9th. So what will be displayed next week in Las Vegas from our neck of the woods – smartphones and tablets?
While the emphasis will be mainly on the latter, a few groundbreaking phones should also be stealing the spotlight, not to mention that the line between phones and tablets is getting blurred by the day. We have phones with giant screens, and tablets with cell phone functions, so we ought to cover both, as a sign of the times.
All eyes are on Verizon at CES, since the carrier is expected to lift the veil over its LTE device lineup. HTC has hinted at its own HTC Incredible HD/Thunderbolt 4G handset to be declared on January 6th, and the waypoints reveal that Motorola’s Honeycomb-running tablet, whatever its name ends up to be, might have an LTE version in the works as well.
Of note is also that Microsoft plans to unveil Windows Phone 7 devices for CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint, and it will most likely announce those at CES 2011. Verizon’s version will likely take the form of the HTC Trophy for, you guessed it, $199.99 on contract, according to a leaked promotional material.
AT&T hasn’t been big with new phones at CES in the last three years, but, of course, it had the iPhone. Now the carrier is having a Developer Summit on the eve of CES. January 5th will see an event for Android developers with workshops titled like Future Proofing Your Android Apps by Motorola, New Platform Paradigms (Android tablets), Maximize Your Application Revenue, and Making Money with AT&T Code Scanner. This could be a harbinger of things to come for AT&T, which might be on the verge of losing the iPhone exclusivity.
Sprint’s surprise could very well be the rumored PalmPad tablets from HP, with WiMAX connectivity inside, but also the revealing of the HTC EVO Shift 4G, of which we got some exclusive snaps last week.
Considering Microsoft’s plans to unveil Windows Phone 7 devices for CDMA networks at CES, Sprint’s version should at least get a mention as the HTC 7 Pro, which features a slide-out keyboard.
T-Mobile’s Senior Director of Engineering Mark McDiarmid said for the Wall Street Journal that the carrier will “unveil its plans for the faster network in Vegas“, and added that “the technology will be integrated into smartphones next year.” The “faster network” he is referring to can only be the promised 42Mbps upgrade to the existing 21Mbps HSPA+ speeds, that the carrier plans to roll out by the end of 2011.
It also seems that T-Mobile plans to double the network speeds every year, until they hit the new standard just coined with Nokia Siemens Networks for 650Mbps in the next few years. T-Mo doesn’t have a very crowded network, so for the said few years the carrier might not need the higher-capacity LTE, but focus on speeds instead, be it for marketing purposes.
To put it in perspective, the two “4G” smartphones on T-Mobile’s network are currently limited by their Qualcomm chipsets to 14.4Mbps HSDPA speeds, so for the carrier to announce smartphones that will take advantage of a 42Mbps network, they will have to be with the third generation Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets. These have two cores clocked at 1.2GHz, and the handsets will most likely be made by HTC again, which is buddy-buddies with Qualcomm since day one. These chips are not scheduled to hit the market before Q2 of next year, so we don’t get our hopes too high for an actual announcement at CES next week.
Our hopes are pegged at the LG Optimus 2X with its dual-core Tegra 2 – we don’t know yet what baseband connectivity will be inside, but there might be a slim chance that T-Mobile has ordered more than 14.4Mbps downlink speeds with this super phone.
The high-end LG handset coming first to T-Mobile might mean that the LG Optimus Pad tablet will see the light of day first on Big Magenta as well, but the more certain tablet event is that T-Mobile should be announcing the 7″ Dell Streak 7 at CES next month.
2011 is marked as the year of the tablet in our geek calendars, and rightfully so. Touchscreens are all the rage, as they eliminate the need to add the bulk of a physical keyboard for everyday computing tasks like surfing the Internets, watching videos and sending a few emails. Apple was the trailblazer here with the iPad, which made the form factor popular, and motivated the other manufacturers to start cooking their own takes on the future of computing. More than 80 tablet devices have been rumored in the works by Motorola, HTC, RIM, Apple, Dell, Asus, Acer, and MSI, among others, so we are expecting anything from 7″-12″, with various operating systems and horsepower.
The most anticipated tablet events are not an eventual announcement of the iPad 2 (Apple loves to steal the spotlight at its own show later in January), but rather the first tablets with Android Honeycomb from Motorola and, very likely, the 8.9″ LG Optimus Pad.
We are also expecting with baited breath Microsoft’s take on all things slate, as well as the announcement of an ARMed and touch-optimized Windows version. On the Windows/Intel side of things, we are also waiting on a surprise 7″ Samsung Gloria tablet with a slide-out keyboard.
We shouldn’t forget Palm and HP eventually showcasing the PalmPad family of tablets, of course – the underdog can always surprise in a good way.
With NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 dual-core chipset becoming the reference platform for Honeycomb, a number of “with Google” devices will be having two cores clocked at 1GHz inside at CES. The most persistent leaks are coming from Motorola and LG – the above-mentioned Motorola tablet with Honeycomb (Verizon), and the dual-core Motorola Olympus/Motorola Etna handset (AT&T/Verizon), as well as the LG Optimus 2X (T-Mobile) smartphone, and LG Optimus Pad tablet.
The main benefits are 1080p full HD video recording and decoding, and, also, apps that have been limited by the CPU thus far, will receive a better shot at greatness. We won’t go as far as predicting stereoscopic video recording for 3D videos, as we haven’t heard many rumors for a device that will have two main cameras, but the chipsets certainly support it. The spec bump comes at battery life comparable or better than the one on single core gadgets, due to better CPU workload distribution, and newer production methods.
We don’t know what will be in the next iPad, which should appear by April, but if it’s dual-core, the folks at Cupertino will surprise us pleasantly. Given that Samsung is most likely going Tegra 2 for its tablets, at least in the first half of 2011, and Apple’s A4 chip has a reference design similar to Samsung’s Hummingbird, we’d speculate that Apple might have bumped into the same issues that made Samsung switch to Tegra 2. Of course, this NVIDIA onslaught might be only because it has become Google’s reference Android platform. Apple is not constrained by that, so we cross fingers.
As other main trends of CES 2011 we would point out that apps will invade everything, from your TV to your fridge, and the ability to control your home or stream multimedia via your mobile phone will be emphasized greatly. Motorola recently bought the home automation company 4Home (see the video below), and will showcase a media streaming hub at CES 2011, so the company is keeping at the forefront of these developments. We would also guess that 3D imagery without specialized glasses will be showcased for mobile devices as well, in one form or another.
So many reasons to look forward towards the CES show in Las Vegas starting next Thursday. Which of the expected announcements above are you most excited about?
It takes a talent to craft a negative for the consumer decision, and spin it as if it is democracy at work. That’s precisely what the Federal Communications Commission did yesterday, when voting on the so-called “net neutrality rules”.
Network neutrality, in a nutshell, advocates “no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication“. Like, for example, your ISP throttling down P2P traffic, citing illegal torrent downloads, although you signed up for certain download speeds, or Verizon allowing Skype, but rerouting the calls over its voice network.
Although yesterday’s decision was mainly focused on wired, such as the one from your cable broadband provider, the FCC spilled the beans on wireless too, and it is not looking pretty. Citing the advent of open platforms like Android, and the fact that the FCC imposed on carriers an openness requirement, when they auctioned the 700MHz C-Block spectrum (which Verizon uses for its LTE network), the FCC argues that wireless can make do with softer net neutrality rules. Last time we checked, the “openness” of Android didn’t prevent Verizon from banning Google Search and swapping it with Bing on a number of Android phones.
The wording of the rules mean that potentially carriers won’t be allowed to block content, or cripple safe apps, but they can charge you more is you are using YouTube, for example, or uploading albums on Facebook, compared to text email and chat, for example, and there is no shortage of tools to do that, even over encrypted access. The carriers can do it under the pretenses of “reasonable network management“, provided they prove the access to data-hogging sites like YouTube is affecting the quality of their networks, hence other users.
These ambiguities caused one of the Silicon Valley icons, Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak, to send an open letter to the FCC:
“Please, I beg you, open your senses to the will of the people to keep the Internet as free as possible. Local ISP’s should provide connection to the Internet but then it should be treated as though you own those wires and can choose what to do with them when and how you want to, as long as you don’t destruct them…
Imagine that when we started Apple we set things up so that we could charge purchasers of our computers by the number of bits they use, the personal computer revolution would have been delayed by a decade or more… every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed…
I don’t want to feel that whichever content supplier had the best government connections or paid the most money determined what I can watch and for how much. This is the monopolistic approach and not representative of a truly free market in the case of today’s Internet.”
Still, the rules barely passed with 3:2 votes, there is a possibility that the decisions will be challenged in court, and, to top it off, the FCC might not even have the mandate to impose them, so for now it is business as usual for the telcos.
Verizon Wireless COO John Stratton said in an interview on Tuesday that Motorola is working on providing Big Red with LTE enabled models for the carrier. “We’ve got LTE smartphones on the horizon,” Stratton said, “Motorola will be right there.” While Verizon previously had pointed to the first half of 2011 as when to expect to see LTE enabled handsets made available for the carrier, the company now refuses to reveal any particular launch dates for LTE phones.
One such device that has been pictured is the Motorola Etna. With a dual-core Tegra 2 processor and the strong possibility of rolling out with Android 2.3 under the hood, this device is the CDMA variant of the Motorola Olympus being prepared for AT&T’s pipelines.
According to the COO of Verizon Wireless, Motorola is going to produce LTE enabled handsets for the carrier, like the Motorola Etan
Sprint will officially start offering its 4G WiMax service (Thanks ITU!) starting on December 28th to more cities. San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Silicon Valley and other areas on the West Coast will be receiving Sprint’s 4G service.
On the video below, Sprint compares its 4G service to an 8 lane super-highway and shows off some of the devices that are WiMax enabled. The carrier currently offers the HTC EVO 4G, the Samsung Epic 4G and the Sprint Overdrive which lets you turn a Wi-Fi enabled device into a 4G running powerhouse. Before the new additions, WiMax was running in 70 markets, offering web browsing speeds as much as 10 times faster than 3G.
Motorola’s web site now features a countdown timer that is counting down toward the manufacturer’s event at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas on January 5th. The page asks the question, “Are you ready to skip a generation?” which is a subtle hint about what the company will be showing off at the CES. It is expected that NVIDIA’s dual-core Tegra 2 processor will be at the heart of some of Motorola’s new products.
The Motorola Olympus and the Motorola Etan are expected to show off dual-core processing in a pair of Android smartphones for Motorola and Verizon respectively. That doesn’t rule out a smartphone being displayed for Sprint and/or T-Mobile. The dual-core, Honeycomb powered Motorola Everest/StingRay tablet that Andy Rubin carried around at the D: Dive into Mobile conference a couple of weeks ago should also be attracting a crowd at the show.
With the promise of a speedy new processor breathing fresh life into both the handset and the tablet industry, this time what happens in Vegas will get spread around the globe quickly.
When the clock hits zero, it will be time for Motorola’s event at the January 5th CES
We are big fans of “The Big Bang Theory” here, so we were amused to notice the little green robot that is the symbol of the Android mobile OS, displayed prominently on Sheldon Cooper’s desk in episode 10 of the current season. The toy is sitting on the right side of his laptop, and now we are waiting for the first mention of Android by any of the cast members. The scene starts at around 14:10 into the episode.
Not that the appearance of the Android mascot in a show about geeks is surprising, but the whole cast is usually equipped with iPhones. Sheldon is our favorite character, and the geekiest kid on the block over there, so maybe it’s no wonder the producers thought that the little green robot will blend in perfectly with the assorted geeky paraphernalia on his desk. Well, at $200 000 per episode, he can afford any Android gadget out there.
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