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Jan 27, 2012

Samsung GT-i9070 Spotted at FCC En-Route to China

Unveiled a year ago, one of the most popular Android smartphones available on the market, Samsung Galaxy S II still makes headlines from time to time. 

Due to customers’ high demand for Samsung Android products, the Korean handset maker decided to launch more versions of the Galaxy S II in order to offer all Android fans the chance to taste some of the phone’s features.

Aside from the carrier-bounded Galaxy S II variants, Samsung released a slew of Galaxy S II smartphones with more or less features in comparison with the original model.

This time we have a specific Samsung GT-i9070 smartphone, which was spotted for the first at the Wi-Fi Certification site and in Samsung’s User Agent Profile, about a month ago.

Today, the folks over at WirelessGoodness discovered that the smartphones has just won FCC (Federal Communications Commission) for GSM/EDGE bands 850 and 1900, as well as WCDMA bands II and IV.

The phone’s leaked specs sheet indicates that this is lower version of the Galaxy S II, as the GT-i9070 is said to feature a 5-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and autofocus, as well as a 1 GHz single core processor.

In addition, Samsung GT-i9070 is powered by Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread operating system and packs 6GB of internal memory, along with microSD card slot for memory expansion. There are no details on the phone’s display size, but it’s certain it will support 800 x 480 pixels resolution.

Although the phone has yet to be officially introduced by Samsung, rumor has it that the GT-i9070 will be launched in China next month.

The folks at WirelessGoodness also point out that while the smartphone supports GSM and WCDMA bands, it might work on AT&T network, though the carrier is unlikely to offer this less-featured Galaxy S II variant.

Nikon D400 DSLR May Arrive in Late March

Wondering what will replace the recently discontinued D300S in Nikon’s DSLR lineup? So are we, but apparently Nikon Rumors has managed to figure this one out.

According to the website, there’s a strong chance that the camera will be called the D400 and some sources seem to suggest that it will be introduced by Nikon in late March 2012.

No info regarding the specs of the DSLR accompanied this report, but if we were to guess we would say that improved video recording and a higher-res image sensor would be the most likely changes to be introduced.

A higher ISO range could also make its way on the specs list, to make the D400 more competitive with Nikon’s current DX format digital SLRs.

Speaking of the DX format, Nikon Rumors also reports that, together with the D400, the camera maker will out two new crop lenses, a new 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens and a refreshed 16-85mm lens.

Motorola Recruits ATRIX 4G Owners for Soak Test

Shortly after Motorola managed to gather enough Motorola DROID RAZR owners for its new project, the company decided to start sending invites to Motorola ATRIX 4G users who want to participate in a soak test.

Obviously, only Motorola Feedback Network members are eligible for this soak test. Although the handset maker did not reveal any details regarding the contents of the software update to be tested in the following days, there’s a high chance that this is a minor bug-fixing update.

In the same news, Motorola already announced plans to upgrade some of its high-end smartphones to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and the ATRIX 4G, sadly, is not among the devices mentioned by the company.

We can safely assume that Motorola will gather enough participants for this soak test by the end of this week, so ATRIX 4G owners might receive a new software update in about two weeks or so.

Android 4.0 Kills the Menu Button

With Android 3.0 Honeycomb, came along the lack of a menu button on devices. In Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, no hardware button means that developers need not map it in their applications anymore. 

Before Honeycomb, the button was used for applications to deliver various options that were relevant to the user, using the activity’s built-in options menu. 

Since the physical buttons were removed in Android 3.0, the ActionBar class came to the stage to make options immediately visible to the user. Ice Cream Sandwich follows on the same tradition, and  
applications built for the new OS flavor need to change to come in line with the new requirement.  

“In order to provide the most intuitive and consistent user experience in your apps, you should migrate your designs away from using the Menu button and toward using the action bar,” Scott Main, lead tech writer for developer.android.com, explains. 

“This isn’t a new concept — the action bar pattern has been around on Android even before Honeycomb — but as Ice Cream Sandwich rolls out to more devices, it’s important that you begin to migrate your designs to the action bar in order to promote a consistent Android user experience.” 

For developers looking to offer support for devices running under pre-Honeycomb OS flavors as well, things should be pretty simple. They will need to add support for the action bar on newer devices, while keeping the Menu button on older ones. 

Moreover, Scott Main notes that devs should “stop thinking about activities using a ‘menu button’,” in addition to no longer relying on the hardware Menu button for their applications.

“Even if your app is built to support versions of Android older than 3.0 (in which apps traditionally use the options menu panel to display user options/actions), when it runs on Android 3.0 and beyond, there’s no Menu button,” he notes. 

“The button that appears in the system/navigation bar represents the action overflow for legacy apps, which reveals actions and user options that have ‘overflowed off the screen’.”

App builders interested in learning some more details on this should have a look at this post on the Android Developers blog.

DROID RAZR MAXX Now Only $199.99 at Amazon

DROID RAZR’s chunkier brother is available for purchase at Verizon Wireless for $299.99 (230 EUR) with a new two-year agreement. Although the smartphone was launched only yesterday, it looks like Amazon already slashed DROID RAZR MAXX’s price to only $199.99 (150 EUR).

However, the smartphone is on backorder for the moment, but customers who cannot afford to purchase the DROID RAZR MAXX from Verizon or those who simply want to save $100, can wait in line at Amazon for their smartphones.

The device features a similar specs sheet as the classic DROID RAZR with a few exceptions, such as the front-facing camera, battery, as well as size and weight.

The DROID RAZR MAXX is a bit thicker at 9mm and weight a bit more than the DROID RAZR, 145g (battery included).

In addition, the DROID RAZR sports a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, while its twin brother features a slightly lower 1.3-megapixel secondary camera.

Nothing is changed inside, so expect the DROID RAZR MAXX to come with the same 1.2 GHz TI OMAP 4430 dual-core processor and PowerVR SGX540 graphics processing unit.

The smartphone also packs 16GB of internal memory, 1GB of RAM and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB, 16GB card included).

Still, the selling point of the DROID RAZR MAXX is the enhanced 3300 mAh Li-Ion battery, which is rated by the manufacturer for up to 368 hours of standby time or up to 21 hours of talk time (not continuous usage).

Just like the DROID RAZR, this one comes with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread on board, but it’s slated for an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade in the following weeks.

Other highlights of the phone include: Wi-Fi and LTE support, 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and full HD (1080p) video recording, HDMI port, and 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Advanced capacitive touchscreen (540 x 960 pixels resolution).

RIM Preps a CDMA Version of Porsche Design P'9981

Research In Motion is rumored to plan the release of a CDMA version of its Porsche Design P'9981 BlackBerry smartphone that landed on shelves only recently.

Rumor has it that the company might aim at launching the device under the name of Porsche Design P'9531, though it would keep about the same hardware specs as the original.

Porsche Design P'9531 should include a 1.2GHz processor and 8GB of internal memory, along with a microSD memory card slot with support for up to 32GB of additional storage space. 

The CDMA flavor of this luxury handset might be launched on shelves at Verizon Wireless in the United States, though Sprint could also receive it.

The original handset is available for over $2,000 and the CDMA flavor should be priced accordingly. However, no official confirmation on the matter has emerged so far.

ASUS Tries Out Laptops with Kinect Sensors and Windows 8

We already knew that Windows 8 was going to bring a slew of new features to the table, but we hadn't heard of Kinect-supporting laptops until today.

Nevertheless, that is exactly what recent reports say ASUS is working on.

To be a bit more specific, ASUS supposedly has two prototype netbooks with Windows 8 and Kinect built-in (go here to learn all about them).

Microsoft means to use Kinect as a basis for computer logon that detects user presence and uses face recognition to decide whether or not access is permitted.

ASUS may or may not care about that, but it probably does about the console-like gaming potential of its machines.

Either way, one thing is almost certain: if Windows 8 does support Kinect features, ASUS won't be the only company to develop and promote Kinect-enabled laptops.

Alas, there is no more information on the matter, official or otherwise, so all we can do is wait for the release of the Windows 8 beta next month (February 2012).

Power Ethernet Intros 'PE Socket' Electric Socket with Networking

It has been known for some time that it is possible to use a home's power outlets to install a local area network, but the first electrical socket with Integrated LAN has only now been introduced.

The HomePlug AV standard for Powerline networking is not exactly new, but the “PE Socket” from Power Ethernet certainly is.

Quite simply, this is the first electrical socket that integrates the networking technology out of the box.

The PE Socket offers four Ethernet ports, filling the role of a fully-managed network switch, not just that of a filtered power socket.

By using a building's electrical wiring, it creates a high-speed and secure data network for PCs.

The connection is fast and stable, enough for Voice over IP phones, web-connected TVs, home automation, entertainment systems and even digital signage.

The list of supported applications and devices also includes CCTV cameras and building management systems.

“Powerline offers such a simple and cost-effective solution to the challenge of connecting the growing number of Internet-enabled devices used in homes and businesses. However, we quickly realised that Powerline needed a professional makeover for it to reach its full potential as a networking technology,” says Power Ethernet Managing Director, Daniel Rogoff.

“By integrating Powerline directly into the electrical fabric of a building, with the PE Socket, we are able to offer a reliable, simple and elegant approach to specifying Powerline networking. Best of all the PE Socket is designed to be installed by electricians without them having to learn data networking skills.”

For those who want numbers, the Power Etehrnet socket works at up to 200 Mbps and over 300-meter distances. 

The installation process is simple: when at least two PC Sockets are installed, the Ethernet network is created automatically, complete with 128 bit AES encryption, device prioritization (QoS) and network segmentation (virtual LANs). 

No price was mentioned in the announcement.

Siri Works on iPad 2 with Spire, Absinthe

The popular personal assistant exclusive to the iPhone 4S, Siri, can now be installed on iPad 2 tablets. That is, if you’re willing to perform a few gimmicks that aren’t for the faint-hearted.

According to the iDownloadBlog, to get started you need to jailbreak your iPad 2 with Absinthe (on iOS 5.0.1), install Spire and iFile (free downloads via Cydia), and then use SiriProxy on a computer. The app is supported on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.

The parts involving the jailbreak and Spire are fairly easy (for the relatively savvy user, of course). The SiriProxy thing is a tad more complicated, and it involves some risks.

According to the tester, “This could make your iPad kick into ‘iPhone mode’ which makes your screen look funky, as everything is sized for iPhone. A quick respring should fix this, but you’ve been warned. I had no problems with it, but it’s worth noting.”

N8 and Other Symbian Anna Devices Now Shipping with Nokia Belle Preinstalled

Nokia confirmed last month that it would start rolling out the Nokia Belle update to some Symbian^3 smartphone sometime in February 2012. 

However, it appears that the Finnish handset maker is already shipping some of these devices with Nokia Belle preinstalled.

These Symbian Anna smartphones that are now shipped with Nokia Belle are not yet available in all regions, but the handset maker confirmed that the N8 with Belle was at the moment available for purchase in India.

Responding to a Nokia fan who was asking about the upcoming availability of the N8 with Belle on board, the Finnish company said "We are already shipping new versions with Nokia Belle installed. Check with your local store for more information."

Moreover, Nokia also confirmed that new Belle devices (N8, C6-01, C7 and other) were being shipped to Turkey and other European countries.

"Yes we have in some regions. You might want to check with your local store to be sure," replied Nokia to a fan who was asking about the availability of these Belle smartphone in Turkey and Europe.

Starting February 2012, the following smartphones will receive the Belle software update: Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Nokia E6, Nokia X7, Nokia C6-01, Nokia C7, Nokia 500 and Nokia Oro.

Unfortunately, Nokia has yet to announce the update’s scheduler, so we can expect more information from the Finnish handset manufacturer in the following days.

Nokia Belle brings some important changes to Symbian phones, such as more home screens (six instead of three), improved status bar, new applications (Lync, Sharepoint, OneNote, Exchange ActiveSync and PowerPoint Broadcaster), visual multitasking and more.

It is also worth mentioning that once updated to Nokia Belle, these smartphones will be able to use the Near-Field Communications (NFC) capability, which allows them to share pictures, make mobile payments and connect accessories with just a tap.

Windows 8 Laptops to Pack Kinect Sensors

Kinect has already been announced for Windows PCs, yet it appears that some vendors out there might be set to take it to a brand new level. 

Rumor has it that ASUS is considering the release of a Window 8-powered laptop that would also include the Kinect sensor inside. 

In fact, The Daily claims that they have already had the chance to check these devices, and that they do sport the said Kinect sensors at the top of the screen. 

These are said to be Asus netbooks that run under the Windows 8 platform, and it seems that Microsoft has already confirmed that they are prototype devices set to land on shelves with the Kinect sensor packed inside. 

The sensor is placed on top of the screen, where the webcam is usually located on this type of devices. Moreover, the laptop features LEDs at the bottom of the display. 

Having Kinect sensors packed inside mobile devices will allow for a range of applications, beyond those of Kinect for Xbox

Microsoft has already promised expanded usage of Kinect for Windows, but has not offered specific info on the possible pairing of its sensor with the new Windows 8 operating system.

Clearly, having Kinect included with laptops would enable the toggling of programs with the simple wave of the hand, while also allowing non-touch controlling of media players and more. 

The news site notes that Microsoft might adopt with these Kinect sensors a similar approach to the Windows one, namely licensing. The company won’t produce the hardware in-house. 

Windows 8 beta is set to become available next month, and there is a strong possibility that the company would unveil more on plans for integrating Kinect in laptops at that time. 

If this pans out, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Kinect included in more devices, such as set-top boxes. A rumor on that emerged only a few weeks ago.

Nikon D800 Full-Frame DSLR to Launch on February 7, Says Report

At the beginning of February, Nikon will reportedly introduce the successor of the recently discontinued D700 digital SLR, the full-frame D800, which is rumored to include a higher resolution image sensor than its forerunner, and improved video capabilities.

As Nikon Rumors has found out, the announcement will take place on February 7 in Japan, February 6 in the US, while shipments will begin a few weeks after this date.

The Nikon D800 has suffered an important number of modifications when compared with the D700, the most important of these being the addition of a new 36MP full-frame image sensor.

This will be seconded by an Expeed 3 image processor, the combo enabling Nikon to offer a 100 to 6,400 ISO range that can be expanded to 50 – 25,600, when the need arises.

Furthermore, the D800 will use the same 51-point AF system found in the D3s, but this time this will get a new face recognition mode.

The video recording capabilities of the camera were also enhanced to allow for shooting 1080p at 30fps while, for getting 60fps, users will have to drop down to a 720p resolution.

The image quality of the videos recorded was however improved, according to some previous rumors spread by the same Website, so the D800 is expected to top the current D3s in this chapter.

Other features that will make their way in the D800 include a 100% coverage viewfinder, dual memory card slots (most probably CompactFlash and SD), a built-in GPS and an USB 3.0 data transfer port.

Changes were also made to the body of the D800, as this was designed in order to be both lighter and smaller than the D700, but at the same time it received a larger rear display that is said to measure over 3-inches in diagonal.

The DSLR camera will also be on display at the CP+ show which will take place in Japan between February 9 and 12.

Matrox Mura MPX Gets HDCP Compliance, 4-Panel Video Walls Await

Matrox used to be quite a player on the graphics card market back in its time, but NVIDIA and ATI (now AMD) left it behind eventually, so the company focused on specialized video solutions instead.

One of its special-purpose products is the Matrox Mura MPX, a series of video wall controller boards aimed at the business/enterprise sector.

Essentially, the Mura MPX input/output boards receive video signals from up to four sources and then “combine” them into a single image that ends up spread across four different displays.

Matrox designed the Mura MPX a while ago but has now issued a new announcement about them.

Basically, the video wall controllers have received HDCP compatibility, which means that high-definition video signals can now be received from HDCP sources.

“Guaranteeing interoperability when integrating and installing a high definition multimedia system is a challenging task for AV professionals. Adding HDCP support enables AV integrators with more options and flexibility when bringing HDCP content to video walls,” said Helgi Sigurdsson, product manager, Matrox Graphics Inc. 

“With an HDCP compliant card that uniquely integrates four HD graphics outputs and four HD video capture channels, building a video wall processor has never been easier.”

The greatest advantage of the four-panel controller boards is that up to six of them can be linked together, enabling video walls of up to 24 panels.

The PCI Express x16 Gen2 technology grants each Mura card a bandwidth of 64 Gbps (duplex data transfer), making even Full HD smooth, for multiple sources at once.

As such, corporate boardrooms, large venue events, digital signage, mission-critical environments and auditoriums are just a few of the applications where Mura MPX can show their worth.

The new Matrox Mura MPX Series 2.01 driver supporting HDCP will be released in March, 2012.

For those who don't know what HDCP is, it is an encrypted protocol used between video sources and video receivers.

Its role is to prevent unauthorized access to protected content, meaning that Matrox' products couldn't ccess HDCP-enabled set-top boxes, Blu-ray disks, video streamers or digital cable.

Galaxy S III Spotted on Samsung’s Website

Galaxy S III is the next flagship handset that South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung is expected to launch, with the Android operating system on board. 

The handset has been rumored a few times before, and some more solid confirmation on it has just emerged. Samsung has listed it on its website, it seems. 

A Samsung GT-i9300 smartphone was spotted on the handset vendor’s official page for the UAE, and it seems that this is the successor of last year’s Galaxy S II model. 

Moreover, Younghee Lee, Samsung executive, confirmed that the phone was on its way to the market, and that the company was reviewing its launch timeframe. Listen to the audio clip below to learn more. 

Galaxy S featured model number i90xx, Galaxy S II went for the i91xx model number, while the Galaxy Nexus was launched as the i9250. Clearly, the i93xx model number was reserved for the Galaxy S III.

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