Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Apple iTunes Song Samples May Double in Length

According to CNET, Apple is expected to double the length of song samples in its iTunes store when it holds its annual media event in september. The samples are expected to be increased to at least 60 seconds, with 90 seconds a possibility. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Currently, iTunes offers samples 30 seconds in length, which for some users is not long enough to judge a song. While Apple does offer these samples, most users know they can go elsewhere to find a song to preview before they buy it using services such as Pandora or Youtube. Steve Jobs is expected to discuss in depth the various ways iTunes will begin to make music discovery easier at the media event.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab to Come Sometime this Fall

Samsung has recently revealed plans to unveil the Galaxy Tab in Germany on September 2nd, and is expected to release the iPad competitor sometime this fall. The early information suggested that the tablet would have a 7-inch Super AMOLED display with Samsung's proprietary TouchWiz UI, an either 1 or 1.2GHz A8 processor, 16GB of internal memory--expandable to 48GB, and run the latest Android 2.2 OS.

This will be the first real tablet device capable of taking on the iPad, and for Samsung, the timing couldn't be better with the upcoming holiday season.

The Galaxy Tab will finally bring the Android OS into the tablet market, and potentially give the iPad its first real competitor.

Apple attempting to patent spyware, named traitorware.

Apple has recently applied for a patent for a method to monitor and potentially disable jailbroken and
unlocked Apple products, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The technology is extremely invasive, almost to the extent of being "creepy" as the EFF would put it. It could have the potential to record a voice, match it against voice patterns of authorized users, take images of the surroundings, and even monitor and pattern match heartbeats. This is far more invasive than most users would approve of in their devices. The ability to monitor heartbeats is borderline disturbing.

As a result, the EFF states:
"This patented device enables Apple to secretly collect, store and potentially use sensitive biometric information about you. This is dangerous in two ways: First, it is far more than what is needed just to protect you against a lost or stolen phone. It's extremely privacy-invasive and it puts you at great risk if Apple's data on you are compromised. But it's not only the biometric data that are a concern. Second, Apple's technology includes various types of usage monitoring — also very privacy-invasive."

Apple's application has greatly introduced concerns over privacy. The EFF lists the following as "features" in the patent application:

The system can take a picture of the user's face, "without a flash, any noise, or any indication that a picture is being taken to prevent the current user from knowing he is being photographed";
The system can record the user's voice, whether or not a phone call is even being made;
The system can determine the user's unique individual heartbeat "signature";
To determine if the device has been hacked, the device can watch for "a sudden increase in memory usage of the electronic device";
The user's "Internet activity can be monitored or any communication packets that are served to the electronic device can be recorded"; and
The device can take a photograph of the surrounding location to determine where it is being used.

What makes all of this interesting is that the EFF played a large role with the U.S. Library of Congress in determining that jailbreaking of iPhones and iPods was legal. However, despite that decision, Apple clearly shows that it treats jailbreaking as being illegal.

In conclusion, here is the EFF's final paragraph in their statement, which really sums everything up:
This patent is downright creepy and invasive — certainly far more than would be needed to respond to the possible loss of a phone. Spyware, and its new cousin traitorware, will hurt customers and companies alike — Apple should shelve this idea before it backfires on both it and its customers

Apple, this is a bad and invasive idea.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

HTC Evo 4g Battery Life

Ok, I know everyone has been hitting the HTC Evo 4g hard with the poor battery life that the device suffers from. I was also one of those people as well, personally expecting 6-8 hours a day out of my Evo. Well I had been having trouble with my Evo running a bit sluggish, and performing poorly. I took the phone to my local Sprint store, as I was struggling to figure out what was causing the battery drain. It turned out, task killers and antivirus applications actually often do more harm than good on these devices. I didnt believe Sprint at first when they told me this, but after a hard reset, I noticed my battery life was greatly improved. This prompted me to begin my own test the other day. Of the past two battery cycles, I have managed to get my Evo to last 20.5 hours (pulled at 9%) and 20 hours (pulled at 8%), without any drastic measures. I even left wifi on for the entire first cycle. (I do not live in a 4G area, so obviously that was off) I used my phone a good amount, probably about the same an average user does during the day. Now on the 3rd battery charge, with about 50% remaining, I have had my phone running for just over 12 hours. Both the first and third tests have been performed with the stock HTC battery, and the 2nd test was performed with a 1800 mAh aftermarket battery.

Now here are a few things I have noticed over these tests:
1. GPS (particularly when used for navigation) is a big drain on the battery. Its ok to leave it on and enabled, but if something is constantly using it, you will quickly deplete your battery. GPS was used for navigation for about 20 min in Test #2.

2. Wifi also has a large effect on the battery. It can account for up to a third of your battery usage, although it does reduce the battery usage of your mobile network, so does not have a large net effect on overall battery life, if any at all.

3. Early results from these tests make the claim of 61 hours of battery life on one charge seem feasible, although not practical at all. (Link to post claiming this in title of article).

4. The HTC Evo 4G can be a pratical phone.

5. If you disable the setting "Enable always on mobile data" you will save battery life, with virtually no disadvantages.

So it is obvious that if we are careful, we can get the Evo to have good battery life. If you are having trouble with battery life, try resetting the device. In terms of preventing these problems, there is not much you can do other than be careful in the App Market.
Hope this helps anyone with battery issues!
*Note: Sorry I have not posted new articles as much lately, had a busy schedule with school about to start up. If you would like to help be an author for fun, and have some tech knowledge, please leave a comment in the section below.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Motorola Droid 2 welcomed with mixed reviews

With the highly anticipated release of the Droid 2, it was expected that this would be a must have smartphone. Granted, it is a very good smartphone that is more than capable to hold its own, but its lack of overall improvement over the original Droid left many early reviewers wanting more.

To begin with, the keyboard on the Droid 2 is still difficult to type with, with the keys not being particularly easy to press. The keyboard overall is still an improvement, but most were hoping Motorola would make it as perfect as possible. Bigger problems than they keyboard however include buggy wifi operation and mediocre call quality. There have also been reports of inconsistent Flash performance.
One lacking feature that is surprisingly missing: no HDMI.

Another disappointment for some users is that unlike the original Droid, the Droid 2 uses Motoblur. Many people have said they prefer the vanilla version of Android.

Not everything is bad though. The Droid 2 is the first phone to ship with Android 2.2 Froyo, runs a 1Ghz processor, has a 5 megapixel camera, and a relatively sleek design.

In comparison to its Droid X cousin, the Droid 2 is just not that upgrade worthy. Its a good phone, but it does not differentiate itself from the original Droid enough to make it a real hot item.

The one cool thing about this phone though, is that Verizon and Motorola are going to release a R2D2 version of this device in tribute from the character in Star Wars.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

HTC Evo 4g Full Review (After 2.2 Update)

As requested, this is a full review of the HTC Evo 4G. After my last review comparing the top smartphones in July (seen here: http://www.elliottselectronicsblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/smartphone-showdown-apple-iphone-4-vs.html), I decided to purchase an Evo, and therefore after nearly a month of use, I feel as though I am ready to give a complete comprehensive review of this device.
Ever Since the HTC Evo 4G was unveiled at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) show, there has been great hype about the device. Now that the device has been available for several months, we can finally review the real world application of this device.

To begin with, we will begin with one of the notable features of the device, Sprint's 4G WiMax network. Sprint was the first network to transition to 4G services, and at this current point in time, it is still the only network with 4G services, although Verizon is not far away (expected to be introduced early 2011). However, there is one downer to 4G. It is only available in 48 markets as of today, although more coverage is being rolled out continuously. Even if you do not live in a market with 4G, Sprint requires you to pay the $10 premium data fee. However, even without 4G, most if not all customers are still going to enjoy the Evo, and many will be able to justify that extra $10 a month.

Moving on, the Evo is a large phone in size. measuring 4.8 inches tall, 2.6 inches wide, and 0.5 inches thick. With this phone's large size, it weighs 6 ounces and packs a large 4.3 inch screen. Some people will not like the large size of the device, but it makes viewing videos on the go much more enjoyable. The thin nature of the phone also makes the large size more manageable.

In terms of the display, the WVGA 800x480 resolution makes everything look crisp and vibrant. The built in light sensor also can adjust the backlight automatically based on ambient light. There large screen also makes typing on the on screen keyboard relatively easy. Below the screen, there are 4 touch sensitive buttons. These buttons are nice, but occasionally most users will have problems with accidentally tapping them when reaching across the screen. This is a relatively minor gripe, but it can be frustrating. The sides of the phone are fairly empty, with just volume controls on the right side. On the bottom, there is a Micro-USB and HDMI (Type D) port. The HDMI port is great as it allows you to watch your videos from your mobile device on your TV in 720p resolution with a cable. The top of the phone consists of the power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack. On the back there is a kickstand which can be used for video viewing. The kickstand surprisingly is a very good clever feature (with quality construction), one in which I and others who I have talked to have come to really appreciate.

The accessories the device comes with in the environmentally friendly packaging are not anything special. It comes with an AC adapter, and USB cable, an 8GB microSD card, and reference material.
In terms of the user interface, the Evo shines compared to most other Android based phones. This is because it runs HTC's Sense interface, which is widely accepted as the best skin for the Android operating system. The reason why the Sense interface is so widely liked is because it really adds a lot to the Android experience in comparison to the other interfaces. The UI looks good, and is one of the best at contact integration (it can link your contacts with their facebook and twitter profiles). One of the most appreciated features, is the leap screen. Pinching the home screen, or pressing the home button while you are on the center panel allows you to view thumbnails of all your home panels, and allows you to jump directly to one of your choice.

The Evo is very feature rich. Underneath Sense, the device is running either Android 2.1 (stock) or 2.2 (as of 8/3, newly available free upgrade) and has 1GB internal memory. The device has a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera for video chat, and a 8 megapixel primary camera that can should HD quality video in 720p. However, with video chat, the only real option at the moment is to use Qik, although Skype is expected to come to Android in the next few months. Other various features on this phone include Bluetooth 2.1, Wifi b/g/n, GPS, Sprint TV, and some more exclusive applications.

Another feature to note is Sprint's Mobile Hotspot feature. Sprint charges $30 a month for this feature, and you can connect up to 8 devices. Many people will probably not bother with this feature though, as you could always use Pdanet or Easytether to USB tether the device to your computer.
One of the most important issues with any phone is performance. The HTC Evo 4G does a great job in most performance areas. Great call quality, decent speakerphone quality, and good bluetooth connectivity. Powered by the 1Ghz Snapdragon processor though, the Evo is a snappy device, with little time spent on waiting for things to load.

On another note, however, there is one major issue with the Evo. Battery Life. With all of these high end features and a powerhouse of a device, it is not surprising to see that the Evo gets terrible battery life. Although it was improved in an over the air update some time ago, the battery life still remains at an unsatisfactory level. Most people, however, should be alright if they purchase a spare battery with a wall charger. I found one myself on ebay for about $20-25 about a month ago. After a while most will not mind switching out batteries once a day.

In conclusion, the HTC Evo 4G is probably the most impressive device currently on the market. It is a real powerhouse of a smartphone, and has plenty of features without becoming too overwhelming. Anyone, from computer geeks to the average consumer, would be able to enjoy this phone. If you can get past the poor battery life and $10 premium data charge, this device will bring you the best smartphone experience of any smartphone.

Overall Value: 9.5/10

Display: 9.5/10
Performance: 10/10
User Interface: 9.5/10
Functionality: 10/10
Battery Life: 3.5/10
Feature Set: 9.5/10

Monday, August 9, 2010

Droid 2 coming thursday, Droid discontinued.

Add another high end smartphone to this summer's list of super powerful phones. The Droid 2, which shortly follows the Droid X in its introduction into the market, is expected to be available for sale on Thursday. The Droid 2 not surprisingly is expected to run Android 2.2 with the Motoblur skin. This device is expected to cost $199 with a 2 year agreement with Verizon, or $599 without.

In addition to this news, the days of the original Droid are over. Verizon has announced that they are no longer selling this device, which in the 9 months it has been on the market, it has helped demonstrate the true potential of the Android operating system.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Android to double by 2012

According to research firm isuppli, Android, which grew 886% from 2009 to 2010, is expected to double by 2012. This research firm indicates that this means that in 2012, 75 million PDA's will be led by Android, compared to 62 million iPhones. The result makes sense, as Android has many partners, including HTC, Motorola, and Samsung as well as many others, while the iOS has just Apple as a partner.

Eric Schmidt, the leader of Google, stated that he expects the company will earn more revenue from mobile internet than fixed internet PCs.

Android still has a long way to go.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Android's Rise Shaking up the Mobile Market.

Many people may wonder why most of my blog posts are about phones running the Android operating system. The reason behind this is because for about the past year, I have witnessed the incredible rise of the operating system, and have become a supporter of the efforts. Android is far from being refined enough for the average user to be able to use it to its full ability, but Google definately had the right idea with this operating system.

Earlier this spring, Android for the first time outsold the iPhone as an operating system. This was a big accomplishment. However, Android just obtained a bigger accomplishment. Android just overtook Blackberry as the best selling smartphone operating system. It has been clear since Android's debut in 2008 that Google had a hit on its hands and now we are just beginning to see how much so. Over the next few months, millions more will begin to become familiar with the operating system, and we could see the platforms explosion in popularity continue.

Android 2.2 Not Coming to Droid X Until September

According to a Motorola employee, Android 2.2 will not be out for the Droid X until early September. This is big disappointment for Droid X owners, as the device has been riddled with software bugs, most of which are expected to be fixed with the update. It also appears that the original Droid will not obtain full Flash support until August 18th. Unfortuanately for these owners, they are going to have to play the waiting game, while Evo and Nexus One owners enjoy Android 2.2 in its entirety.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Froyo 2.2 on Evo 4G, Motorola Droid

As expected, yesterday Android 2.2 Froyo was released for the HTC Evo 4G on Sprint and now today customers using Verizon's Motorola Droid can manually obtain the update. Although not much was changed aesthetically, just a few minor tweaks here and there, there was a big change under the hood. The new OS is speedier and more efficient, and web browsing is now noticeably quicker as well.

The biggest feature of Android 2.2 however, is full Flash 10.1 support. You know those flash based games on websites that never worked on your phone before? Well now they do, thanks to this update. Other updates include new security options, voice dialing over bluetooth, and new management features.

The performance of the new Android OS is perhaps the biggest advantage of upgrading next to Flash support, and now that Froyo is rolling out, we should begin to hear leaks of information about the next future OS version, 3.0 Gingerbread.

*Note: Many people have asked me why Android 2.2 has been nicknamed "Froyo". Google has given a nickname to each version of the operating system beginning with cupcake (1.5), followed by donut (1.6), then eclair (2.1), and now froyo (2.2). Froyo, for those who don't know, is short for frozen yogurt.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Samsung Epic 4G to be released August 20th

Over the past 24 hours, Samsung has hinted that its upcoming release of the Epic 4G, which will be carried on Sprint, is set to be released on August 20th. This rumor is supported by the fact that the Sprint webpage for the Epic has now gone live. Some notable specs of the upcoming Epic is that is will feature a 1Ghz Hummingbird processor, a 4 inch Super AMOLED screen, and a slideout QWERTY keyboard.

This is big news for those who want to experience Sprint's 4G network, but do not want to part with a physical keyboard. Unfortuanately, the Epic 4G will debut with Android 2.1, and not 2.2 Froyo like hoped, but that is expected to change with an over the air update within the coming months.

In addition to this, Sprint has also announced that they have rolled out 4G coverage in Delaware, Florida, and Michigan, as well as expanding coverage in California. Hopefully Sprint continues to stay busy rolling out coverage to more and more customers nationwide.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Droid to get Android 2.2 in the next week

According to verizon's website, the Motorola Droid will be updated to Android 2.2 within the next week. This will make the 3rd device with the updated operating system, behind the Nexus One and the Evo 4G. Unfortunately for Droid X users, Verizon is still being vague, stating that Froyo will be available sometime late this summer.

Note: I apologize if the posts over the next few days are short, as I am getting my laptop repaired and am having to make posts on my phone.

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