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Feb 26, 2012

MWC 2012: Live from HTC's Conference - HTC One X, One S and One V Announced

So far we've seen that Huawei boasts having  the fastest quad-core smartphone in the world, the Ascend D quad (XL) and Sony announced two new Android devices: Xperia P and Xperia U.

It's now HTC's turn to impress. Stay tuned for live info.

So far, they're discussing the highly anticipated HTC One series of mobile devices.

It seems HTC is focusing on camera, sound and performance features with this series.

HTC One devices will feature ImageSense technology: better module camera, software and UI.

HTC Sense 4.0 will come with Dropbox built-in. HTC One owners automatically get 25GB cloud storage space for free for 2 years.

Also in HTC Sense 4.0, enhanced music listening experience with BeatsAudio technology.

Previously known as HTC Endeavour, the One X is a 4.7-inch (1280x720) with Corning Gorilla Glass, Android 4.0 smartphone using an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM. Once launched, the One X will become HTC's new flagship smartphone.

Codenamed HTC Ville, the One S will run on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC Sense 4.0 UI on top. Other specs include a 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor and microSIM support.

The last one is One V, which will be the most affordable of the three, and has a 3.7-inch capacitive touchscreen display, a 5-megapixel camera with HD (720p) video recording, as well as 1 GB of RAM. It will run, like the others, the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

The One V is considered the spiritual succesor of HTC Legend and even has a similar design.

All three will be up for sale in April 2012 from 144 carriers worldwide.

MWC 2012: Live from Sony's Conference - Xperia P and Xperia U Announced

Second conference of the day  at the 2012 Mobile World Congress is Sony Mobile's. 

Everyone's expecting them to announce new mobile devices, and I have got to say, I'm pretty excited myself.

Stay tuned for live info.

Xperia U and Xperia P smartphones announced!

Xperia P has an aluminum unibody design and the display features Sony's  WhiteMagic  brightness enhancement technology. 

Also on board are an 8MP camera and NFC (near field communications) capabilities.

Xperia U has a dual-core 1GHz heart, 5MP camera, xLoud sound tehnology and a 3.5" display. 

Both smartphones will be shipping in mid-Q2 2012. 

As a nice bonus, the already known Xperia S is now available in Barcelona, one week earlier than expected.

That's it... see you in about an hour for HTC's event!

UPDATE: press photo featuring both the Xperia P and Xperia U added to the gallery!

MWC 2012: Live from Huawei's Conference - Ascend D quad (XL) Announced

We're down in Barcelona for the 2012 Mobile World Congress and are wasting no time: the Huawei conference has started. Stay tuned to see what they are about to announce!

They're showing the Ascend D quad, which they claim is the fastest quad-core smartphone to date.

The CPU inside the Ascend D quad is Huawei's K3V2 64-bit processor, running at 1.5GHz.

The 4.5" screen has a 1280x720 resolution and is IPS+, which spells great graphics quality.

There's an XL version, which has a 2500 mAh battery, as opposed to the "regular" one which is 1800 mAh.

The Ascend D quad also has 1GB of RAM on board, 8MP rear camera with dual LED flash and 1080p video recording, 1.3MP front-facing camera with 720p video recording.

And of course, it runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. For more specs, check the attached spec sheet.

Beside the Ascend D quad and D quad XL, there will be a little brother as well: Ascend D1 with 1.5GHz dual-core CPU.

All three will be coming to worldwide markets in Q2 2012 and will be "15% cheaper than competition", according to Huawei.

That's about it! Unfortunately, the 10.1" MediaPad tablet was not shown at the conference. Here's to hoping we'll get to see it at the company's booth.

OS X Mountain Lion Features: Notification Center

Apple’s next major version of OS X dropping in this summer delivers some cool functionality that has been ported over from the iPad, and one of those nifty features is Notification Center.

While some believe Apple is ripping off Growl, Notification Center is arguably more complex and, therefore, more functional.

Not only does it display timely notifications for all kinds of apps, like Mail, IM clients, Twitter, Game Center, and even FaceTime, the tool is so well integrated with the entire OS that we’ll probably wonder “how on Earth did we live without it?”

“See what’s new with you. All in one place. Something new is always popping up somewhere on your Mac — an email, an instant message, a friend request, a calendar alert, and more,” reads Apple’s promo for Notification Center.

“Notification Center makes it easy to stay up to speed, because there’s one place to see everything. Notification banners appear on your desktop and disappear quickly so they don’t interrupt what you’re doing. Swipe to the left, and you’ll see all your notifications in a simple, ordered list. So you’ll always know what’s up as soon as it comes up.”

The description may not be enough to give you an idea of how Notification Center actually works.

You know how they say an image is worth more than a thousand words? Well, have a look see (images from Apple's OS X Mountain Lion marketing page).

There are some deep customization options too.

You can choose which notifications you want to see in Notification Center and arrange them however you like, and you can even preview your new email, messages, reminders, Twitter mentions and messages, even software updates, all from the Notification Center interface.

It lives in the background of OS X Mountain Lion, so all you need to do to visit Notification Center from anywhere in OS X - even from a full-screen app - is to swipe left on your trackpad.

Alternately, if you're using mouse & keyboard for input, you can invoke Notification Center by clicking the target icon at the top-right corner of your Mac’s display.

OS X version 10.8 dubbed Mountain Lion is set to arrive at the end of Summer 2012, Apple confirmed earlier this month.

Aside from Notification Center, the OS will be chock full of new features, many of which are already available on the iPad.

Previously we had to guess Apple’s intentions with every new major release of OS X. This time around, the company itself revealed that OS X Lion is a direct attempt at unifying the Apple ecosystem by bringing every relevant feature from iOS back to the Mac.

For more OS X Mountain Lion coverage, visit the related stories below.

Nokia Now Leads in Windows Phone Sales

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia needed only four months to become the top Windows Phone manufacturer in the world. 

Nokia Lumia 800, the company’s first Windows Phone device arrived on shelves in November last year, followed by Nokia Lumia 710 one month later. 

Now, Strategy Analytics is reporting that Nokia is the world’s number one Microsoft smartphone vendor. This is the first time this has ever happened. 

“Nokia overtook HTC and others to become the world’s largest Microsoft smartphone vendor with 33 percent market share,” Alex Spektor, associate director at Strategy Analytics, said.

“Nokia’s global Microsoft smartphone shipments hit 0.9 million units, as distribution of its Lumia family expanded across numerous countries and operators.”

Overall, sales of Windows Phone devices are still small, although the global smartphone market continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2011. 

The increase in shipments of Windows Phone devices was of 36 percent, which helped them reach 2.7 million units, the latest research from Strategy Analytics shows. 

Nokia took the lead in Windows Phone, pushing HTC to the second position. The Taiwanese mobile phone maker finds itself in a difficult position at the moment, since it also has to compete with Samsung on the Android segment. 

“An expanded portfolio of Windows Phone 7 models such as the Lumia 800, an increased retail presence and highly visible marketing campaigns across several European and Asian countries drove Nokia’s growth,” Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added. 

“Nokia is by no means out of the woods yet, and it is still on a long road to recovery, but capturing top spot in the Microsoft smartphone ecosystem is an encouraging baby-step forward for the company.”

This year, Nokia will launch even more Windows Phone devices, being set to regain much of the market share it has been losing during the past few years. It already unveiled the high-end Nokia Lumia 900 at CES in January, and is expected to launch at least two new phones next week at MWC in Barcelona.

BlackBerry Travel Now Available for Download

A new flavor of the BlackBerry Travel application is now available for download for the owners of BlackBerry smartphones from Canadian handset vendor Research In Motion. 

Pushed in the BlackBerry App World as version, the new application release brings along localized content in Bahasa Indonesia, Brazilian, Portugese, and Dutch.

Moreover, the new app iteration was meant to provide users with better support for all smartphones that are powered by the latest BlackBerry OS 7.1 release. 

The new app version is also said to fix some of the issues that users might have experienced after installing the previous flavor. 

At the same time, users will benefit from all of the features and capabilities that the application already included, such as the ability to plan, book, manage, and share your travel activities. 

“The BlackBerry Travel app makes it easier than ever to plan, book, manage, and share your travel activities. Find a deal on hotel and car rental options, or arrange for limo service to and from the airport,” RIM notes on this application. 

“Get quick notifications if your flight’s delayed or cancelled, and find a new flight right away. No matter where you do your booking, the automatic trip scanning feature can pull your trip details into the app, so you don’t have to.

“See all your travel updates in one place as they happen, and don’t worry about double and triple checking your plans; if you’ve missed anything, BlackBerry Travel will notify you, covering all your bases. BlackBerry Travel truly means travel made easy.”

The latest version of the BlackBerry Travel application is available for download today via RIM’s official app portal

The mobile software features support for all devices that run under BlackBerry OS 5.0 or newer. To use it, BlackBerry owners will need a data plan including Internet browsing capability (BIS).

No Windows 8 Ultimate SKU – Report

Microsoft might reduce the number of SKUs available for its Windows 8 platform, recent reports suggest. 

Apparently, the Redmond-based software company has concluded that the ultimate edition of its previous Windows versions did not sale well enough to offer it for Windows 8 as well. 

Previously, the company has been offering the Windows platform in four SKUs, including Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate.

The Enterprise SKU is available only for companies, but the rest of the versions were released for the  
general public.  

However, ZDNet’s Stephen Chapman has managed to grab a series of leaked documents coming from Hewlett-Packard, which mention only three of these SKUs. 

When Windows 8 arrives on shelves, there will be a generic flavor available for users, along with a Professional version, and the Enterprise iteration. 

According to Stephen Baker, an analyst with the NPD Group, cited by Computerworld, Microsoft decided to kill off the Ultimate SKU of Windows due to the lack of demand it had seen for it before. 

"There had been interest in Windows 7 Ultimate," he notes. However, sales have been too slow when compared to those of Home Premium and Professional versions. 

The analyst also notes that, if there is going be an Ultimate flavor of Windows 8, Microsoft will make it available only as an OEM SKU. 

The software giant is also expected to plan renaming the Home Premium flavor of Windows 8. This SKU, along with the Professional edition of the platform, will be the only two Windows 8 iteration made available for purchase for the public. 

The Enterprise SKU will be there as well, but available only for businesses, and only for volume-license purchases.

Microsoft has yet to unveil info on the matter. The company plans on launching the Consumer Preview version of Windows 8 as soon as next week, and some more details on the number of SKUs it will have up for sale when the final version arrives might be unveiled at that time.

Intel 7-Series Z77 Extreme Motherboards Revealed

Intel has unleashed quite a few motherboards over the past week, like the Media Series and the Executive 7-Series, all part of the 7-Series, and now we get to look at the high-end models too. 

According to VR-Zone, there are two high-end 7-Series motherboards on the way, powered by the Z77 chipset. 

Like them, we aren't exactly sure why it has taken to launching so many motherboards, knowing that the consumer base will more than likely gravitate towards companies that specialize in such products and have proven their brands' worth over and over (ASRock, ASUS, MSI, etc.). 

Nevertheless, Intel has released the DZ77GA and DZ77RE for the high-end market. 

The former has the Gasper codename and comes with two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x4 slot and a pair of PCI slots. 

There is also USB connectivity (four 3.0 and four 2.0 ports at the back, plus some more via headers), FireWire connectivity, eSATA and dual Gigabit Ethernet, plus 7.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF. 

Furthermore, the chip giant implemented an HDMI connector, but this begs the question of why Intel isn't enabling support for multi-display setups. 

After all, the bundled LucidLogix Virtu software lets discrete graphics signals pass through the integrated GPU, allowing for more than one monitor to be managed by the mainboard directly, provided there are enough display ports to plug the panels in (which there aren't). 

The second motherboard will possess Thunderbolt at least, but more or less the same other specifications as its sibling. 

Keep in mind that the PCI Express x4 slot may have to be disabled while Thunderbolt is in use, though. 

Intel has been doing its best to extend its reach beyond the CPU market, entering not just the mainboard but also the SSD business. Neither outlet has seen as much success as its primary focus, and with the upcoming Ivy Bridge CPUs supposedly getting cheaper (by $60-70 / 45-53 Euro) this situation can only persist.

DDR4 RAM Demonstrated at ISSCC, Will Enter Manufacture in 2013

DDR4, the next DRAM memory standard, is expected to be massively adopted by 2014, which means that the companies behind its existence have to start showing prototypes now instead of later. 

It so happens that the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) has just taken place (between February 19 and 23). 

The conference was the perfect occasion for revealing next-generation dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. 

TechEye reports that two companies were willing to show off their inventions. 

Hynix is one of the companies with a DDR4 device. The chip works at 2400MHz (2400Mb/s) and needs a voltage of 1.2V. It bears a 64-bit I/O. 

The second company to bring out a DDR4 product was Samsung. The clock frequency was of 2,133 MHz and the voltage was the same as above. 

Hynix used its 38nm manufacturing process technology, while Samsung employed the 30nm node instead. 

For the sake of comparison, DDR3 needs 1.3V or 1.5V to run, even if the manufacturing process is the same. 

All in all, DDR4 modules are going to be not just faster, but also energy efficient, by about 40% compared to their predecessors. They won't be pin-compatible though. 

Elpida, Micron and Nanya did not show DDR4 prototypes at the show, for one reason or another. There is no real rush, though, since the chips and modules aren't going to be available for a while still. Volume production will only commence in 2013, which means that mass availability is something that 2014 will bring at the earliest. 

Until then, memory companies will have to deal with more pressing matters, like the low market prices of all DRAM chips and how consumers, while not at all disapproving, don't seem to be responding with much enthusiasm either. Granted, contract quotes are going up little by little now, but there is no guarantee that this trend will last.

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