When it comes to the greatest show at MWC, there is one winner – Samsung. The Koreans overcame their questionable CES presentation legacy and this time pulled quite a show in Barcelona. You didn’t even have to be inside to know about it – dancers dressed as postmen carried D-Day boxes around the city to everyone’s bewilderment. The mysterious event about to start was – of course – the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S II, a handset that the company managed to keep a secret just before the start of the event.
The show included music performed on the Samsung Galaxy Tab by professional musicians, which was quite a sight by itself. But that was only the background for a huge screen showing people from all over the world praising the original Galaxy S. Well, it was a Samsung event after all and in all honesty we can’t help but agree that the Galaxy S is one of the greatest handsets out there even now, more than half a year after its launch. Without spoiling the rest of the fun, check out the full video below to get a sense of this year’s Mobile World Congress.
Sometimes good things come from unexpected locations, and that’s precisely the Acer Iconia Tab A500. Acer is one of the largest computer makers in the world, but we were still surprised to see a tablet offering from it, when Verizon announced its LTE lineup in December.
Now, after we handled the Acer Iconia Tab A500 here at the MWC Expo, we have to say we are starting to understand why. First off, it is one of the most stylish tablets we’ve seen. In a sea of glossy, smudge-prone black plastic tablets, Acer’s high-end tablet has an aluminum casing, with tastefully engraved logo on the back.
The back also hosts the 5MP camera with LED flash, which is capable of 1080p Full HD video recording, since the Acer Iconia Tab A500 is powered by the 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset. The 1GB RAM and 16 or 32GB internal memory plus microSD card slot finish up the rather 2011 spec sheet. The tabet doesn’t skimp on the front-facing cam either – we found a full 2MP shooter there…
Acer was quiet on the tablet front up until now only to erupt with a number of devices for pretty much everyone out there. You might have heard about the Acer ICONIA TAB A500, expected to land on Verizon, and now the Acer ICONIA TAB A100 joins the family with a smaller 7-inch screen, but otherwise similar specs.
You are looking at a cute little slate with a single physical button on the front, very much like Apple’s iPad in appearance. However don’t be fooled by the small dimensions – underneath it sports NVIDIA’s dual-core Tegra 2 chipset with the processor clocked at 1GHz. In addition, it has 512MB of DDR2 RAM, 8GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards…
There is little doubt that Acer is trying to make a statement of intent with its smartphone offerings, and that’s why we didn’t pass on the opportunity to be introduced to the Acer Liquid Metal’s little brother – theAcer liquidmini.
The Acer liquidmini is very similar in appearance and feel to the Liquid Metal, hence it retains the same good design with its beautifully curved top and bottom sides, which is definitely one of its strong sides.
Somehow unsurprisingly for a mid-end handset, the liquidmini offers a 3.2-inch TFT capacitive screen with 320 x 480 resolution and only 262 144 colors, so there is no point to expect too much from its display…
We headed to Acer’s booth at MWC with a sense of excitement – Acer still feels like the new kid on the block when it comes to smartphones and maybe that’s what allows it to make some bold moves. And bold the Acer ICONIA SMART is – with a screen of 4.8 inches with half XGA resolution of 480 x 1024, it stands out among all other offerings just by its size.
Its huge screen puts it somewhere in between a tablet and a phone, but its narrow body gives it a “phone” look. The sleek and stylish unibody stainless steel casing give it a premium feel. It certainly shows that Acer has put significant effort in the design of its handsets, but unfortunately we just couldn’t quite get used to the phone’s overblown dimensions. The ICONIA SMART looks like your common smartphone when it comes to width, but heightwise it is the mount Everest of smartphones. It is pretty heavy as well at approximately 6.52 ounces (185 grams). We can imagine it more as an entertainment device – it has a 21:9 panoramic ratio, excellent for watching movies on the go. At such a size the TFT screen inevitably becomes not only the main selling point of the device, but also a part of the design. That’s why we appreciated its great viewing angles. While it may lack in color vibrancy in comparison to Super LCD and Super AMOLED Plus, it delivers beautiful bright colors…
Streaming movies off the Internets is hard enough on your computer – you need decent broadband connection, and good compression algorithms on the originating end.
On a mobile phone the challenges are even greater, but it is such a desired feature, that Qualcomm took a different approach. In the next Snapdragon chipsets we will have Netflix streaming hardwired into the chipset as hardware-accelerated video codecs, which will help immensely with decoding, while your applications processor will stay idle for other, more mundane tasks, thus reducing battery consumption.
The Netflix streaming and output via HDMI port to a big screen TV were demoed at Qualcomm’s booth at the Mobile World Congress Expo, and the LG Revolution Verizon LTE phone was used for the test. As far as we overheard from the convo, the Revolution has a single-core 1GHz MSM8655 Snapdragon inside, so it might ship with this feature right out of the box.
Of course, this chipset is combined with Qualcomm’s LTE baseband modem, to use Verizon’s wireless broadband for the streaming, so you might not see this type of hardwired Netflix streaming on other carriers soon.
You can line up you queue, and get on your merry way streaming your favorite movies on-the-go, or to the TV via a dedicated Netflix streaming app, which is demonstrated in the video below.
When we wrote our article about the first generation dual-core chipsets way back last summer, they were all still sampling with manufacturers, but now that three of them have gone into devices, we have the chance to observe how they actually fare.
At the time the Texas Instruments OMAP4 4430 chipset seemed the most promising to us, because of its added functionalities for image processing, and optimized battery consumption. We won’t mention the dual-core Snapdragon here, as we are yet to handle it in a phone. OMAP4 seemed to offer more than NVIDIA Tegra 2, while not much was known about Samsung’s Exynos chipset, which, until recently, was called Orion.
We only know that Samsung switched from the PowerVR graphics chipset line, which was present in its Hummingbird chipset in the Galaxy S, and in the iPhones, to ARM’s own quad-core Mali GPU. Little was known exactly how many triangles per second is Mali supposed to push out. Samsung claimed it will give 5x the performance of its previous GPU used, which would have put it at insane speeds. On ARM’s website the same 5x claim is made, but in comparison to the old Mali GPU, so go figure…
We didn’t expect that Google will let Apple offer iMovie, and not have its own Android video editing software in the offing now, did we?
In his keynote speech at the MWC Expo today Eric Schmidt announced that Google is working on Android Movie Studio – a video editing application, which will appear on tablets with Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
Not much else to this news bit, except that YouTube will most probably play a major role in the Android Movie Studio video editing integration. As far as we know Google, the app will most likely be free, so anything that makes our lives easier, and doesn’t require us reach for our pockets, is welcome.
In his keynote speech today Eric Schmidt talked in Google’s usual frank way about the Nokia Windows Phone. “We would have loved Nokia to choose Android and we certainly tried… The offer remains open for the future.”
Now this is some straight talk. It’s been just a few days since Nokia announced its deep partnership with Microsoft, and most comments were pointing out how the old fox Ballmer planted Stephen Elop at the helm to drive Nokia right into his arms, exerting pressure on Nokia’s board through its largest American shareholders.
Whatever was going on behind the curtain at the time, one thing is certain now – Android definitely was an option for Nokia, but at the last possible moment (last Thursday, if you believe Stephen Elop), it went with the underdog Windows Phone.
For what it’s worth, Eric Schmidt also mentioned that they still consider Microsoft their main competitor. Not Apple, nor Facebook, but Microsoft. After all, despite all the hype, Facebook still hasn’t monetized its popularity, whereas Microsoft has established revenue streams and is getting big in cloud services.
Tying these together and placing them on a Nokia Windows Phone might be as disruptive as Google throwing a wrench into Apple’s quest for mobile dominance with the purchase of Android. The move is typical Microsoft – wait for a market to mature, and then go all-in, guns blazing, to take advantage of the already established best practices. Anyway, those Nokia Windows Phone renders from yesterday look cute as a button, and not formidable at all.
Earlier today HTC announced a few of its upcoming phones, and here we are at Barcelona playing with the successor of the HTC Wildfire – the Wildfire S. All in all, our first impression of the prototype unit was that the HTC Wildfire S is simply a refreshed version of its predecessor. As a matter of fact, the only notable design reshapes are that the optimal trackpad we know so well from the original Wildfire is missing on the Wildfire S, and the fact its successor’s body is made of higher quality materials, although, in fact, we didn’t feel much of a difference when playing with the prototype unit. Otherwise, their dimensions are similar, but the HTC Wildfire S is a bit smaller and weights only 3.7oz…