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Jan 17, 2013

Sony Confirms to Focus on High-End Xperia Smartphones

Japanese mobile phone maker Sony Mobile was recently rumored to plan switching its focus on the development of high-end smartphones, thus leaving the lower end of the market aside, and confirmation on the matter has already emerged.

Apparently, the handset vendor is looking at the high end segment of the smartphone market as the profit driver, capable of helping it to turn its business back to the right track. Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai confirmed this to Bloomberg recently, while adding that the company still had a lot of room to grow.

Last week, Sony unveiled its next Android-based flagship device, the Xperia Z, which managed to attract a great deal of positive reactions, and which should land on shelves in February. However, Sony will need more such devices before being able to turn the tide, that’s for sure. Hopefully, it won’t be long before it unveils them.

Sony Xperia Z
Image credits to Sony

Nokia Audio Coming to Lumia Smartphones

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia has reportedly made available for download a new flavor of its Nokia Audio application for Lumia smartphones, namely version

According to a recent post on MyNokiaBlog, the new update for the application builds on the latest release from Nokia, which was meant to provide users with the possibility to set the same playback volume for all music and video tracks. To get the new Audio leveling feature in Nokia’s application, users will simply have to fire up the Windows Phone Store on their handsets and search for an update for the application.

Unfortunately, no changelog for the changes that Nokia included in the new iteration of its mobile software has been provided as of now. On Nokia’s Lumia 920 smartphone, the update arrived as a 2MB download.

Nokia Lumia 920
Image credits to Nokia

AT&T HTC 8X Windows Phone 8 Portico Update Now Available

The first Windows Phone 8 major update has finally reached AT&T customers who own the HTC 8X.

WinSource reports that the update is now rolled out OTA (over the air) in waves, which means that not all HTC 8X users will receive it simultaneously. According to Microsoft, Portico adds the following new features and improvements:
  • Messaging improvements: users can now add multiple recipients at the same time when they send a text message and automatically save unsent text messages as drafts.
  • Text replies to incoming calls: users can now send a pre-written text reply to a caller directly from the call answer screen. 

Several Internet Explorer improvements have been added as well, such as the option to change settings to prevent pictures from downloading automatically. Users will also be able to delete selected sites from browsing history and leave the rest intact. In order to manually push the update to the smartphone, simply head over to Settings / Phone update. If it’s not available, you might want to try again later.

Portico update for HTC 8X
Image credits to WinSource

BMW Sign exFAT Deal with Microsoft

Microsoft has just announced that it had signed a patent licensing agreement with German car manufacturer BMW that would allow the company to use exFAT technology in the infotainment systems available on its vehicles.

“Cutting-edge technology is a must for today’s leading automotive brands,” said David Kaefer, general manager of Intellectual Property (IP) Licensing at Microsoft. “This agreement allows BMW to utilize a modern file system to deliver a more entertaining and connected driving experience.”

BMW is not the only company to have chosen to use Microsoft’s exFAT file system, as several other firms, including RIM and Sharp, have decided to go for the technology developed by the Redmond-based technology company. exFAT is an improved version of the FAT file system that allows flash memory devices to handle files five times larger, while also providing increased speed and portability.

BMW will use exFAT to improve its in-car infotainment systems
Image credits to BMW

Free Users Get 50 GB of Space with Dotcom’s MEGA

With Kim Dotcom's Mega cloud storage and sharing site only a couple of days away, more details are getting out, straight from the man himself. On his popular Twitter account, Dotcom revealed that free users will get some 50 GB of storage out of the box.

"#Mega will have very generous limits for free users. For example you get 50GB storage for free ;-)," he tweeted. Obviously, there are plenty of other details that are missing, but from the looks of it, the new service sounds quite promising.

You get 50 GB of storage for free, client-side encryption and it looks like it offers better sharing options than most other cloud storage sites; not a bad set of features. Still, it remains to be seen how well Mega will fare in the real world; the cloud storage space is very crowded.

Mega users will get 50 GB of storage for free
Image credits to Kim Dotcom

Samsung GT-N5100 to be Launched as Galaxy Note 8.0

South Korean mobile phone maker Samsung Electronics is reportedly gearing up for the launch of a new device in its Galaxy Note series, one that would feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen display.

The handset is said to sport the model number GT-N5100, and to be set to land on shelves in two flavors, namely with and without 3G connectivity. While the 3G / Wi-Fi version will be launched as of GT-N5100, the Wi-Fi only flavor of the device will hit the market as GT-N5110, SamMobile reports. Furthermore, the new device is expected to sport an 8-inch 1280×800 TFT (Super Clear LCD) display on the front, and might be officially unveiled at the upcoming 2013 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month. The specifications list of the new device is also said to include 2GB of RAM, along with 16GB / 32GB of internal memory, and a microSD memory card slot to allow for storage expansion.

Galaxy Note 8 is expected to include a 5-megapixel photo snapper on the back, along with a 1.3MP camera on the front to enable video chatting. At the same time, the tablet PC should pack a 4600mAh battery when released, along with support for Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth connectivity, USB port, and built-in GPS receiver. Galaxy Note 8 will measure 211.3×136.3×7.95 mm, while expected to weight 330 grams. Rumor has it that Samsung will launch it with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean loaded on top right from the start. Codenamed Kona, the new slate would complement Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7 on the market, although its specs list doesn’t suggest that it would be a high-end device.

For the time being, however, nothing has been officially confirmed on the new tablet PC, and we should wait for Samsung’s formal announcement on this to learn specific details on it. Stay tuned for more news on the matter.

Samsung logo
Image credits to Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S IV to Allow Wireless Charging from a Distance

Samsung’s next flagship Android-based smartphone, supposedly called Galaxy S IV, is expected to land on shelves with wireless charging capabilities packed inside, but might also have a few treats up its sleeve for adopters.

According to a recent report coming from DDaily, Samsung will pack the future device with support for the Qi standard, and will also provide users with a special module for that, but it will sell it separately. Furthermore, it seems that the wireless charging technology might not be a standard in all Galaxy S IV models, though confirmation on this has yet to emerge.

However, rumor has it that the company is also considering an alternate solution, called resonant magnetic coupling, which could allow users to charge the device from up to 2 meters, without having to place it on the charger, as is required for current handsets.

Alleged Samsung Galaxy S IV leaked photo
Image credits to SAMMobile

StarTech ST7300USBM, Seven Ports USB 3.0 Hub

Just as a multi-port switch can divide an Internet signal between several PCs and consumer electronics devices, a USB hub allows multiple USB devices to link through the same Universal Serial Interface.

StarTech is the one launching a new hub of the latter type, featuring seven USB 3.0 connectors. Its name is ST7300USBM. The product has a no-nonsense rectangular shape, built-in wall mount brackets, 350W surge protection (per port) and even 2-wire terminal block for 7 to 40V DC power input (good for high-power devices). What's more, the optional DIN Rail mounting kit makes it easy to add to existing circuit breakers and industrial control equipment.

The product page has more information on the ins and outs. Find it here. Sadly, the price is rather high: £116.99 / 140 Euro / $187.52.

StarTech ST7300USBM
Image credits to StarTech

Cougar Spike, New Mini Tower Case for Miniaturists [Video]

Cougar's latest promo video is every bit as exciting as any other ad video, which can be interpreted in any number of ways. As such, just to be on the safe side, the company also made a press release about it.

The name of the new case is Spike, even though there is barely anything pointy about it, not even screws really. Indeed, the Spike uses a screw-less hardware installation system, which is convenient when installing HDDs, SSDs or ODDs. But we digress. We should first say what type of enclosure Cougar has released, and then proceed from there. The Spike is a mini-tower which, nonetheless, has enough room inside for graphics cards of 330 mm in length (12.99 inches). That said, micro-ATX motherboard should fit inside just fine, but anything larger will need a different enclosure. Then again, micro-ATX motherboards do a good job of providing all the features of full-size mainboards, with the number of PCI Express and memory slots being the only real differences.

That is the main reason that Cougar expects good sales. The other reasons, besides the tool-less construction, are the standard features: a 120 mm rear fan, support for three more spinners (80-120 mm). The bottom area for 2.5-inch SSDs is the last and unusual bonus. Finally, the COUGAR SPIKE Mini Gaming Tower PC Case has a front I/o panel with audio jacks, an USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 connector, plus the obligatory Power and Reset buttons (blue LEDs). All in all, Cougar may have actually done a good job justifying the price of $39.99 / 30-39.99 Euro. We've embedded the video below, for your convenience, but further information can be found on the product page. Shipments should already be underway. If they are not, they will start soon, within a week or so.

Cougar Spike
Image credits to Cougar

The COUGAR SPIKE case is a mini tower but is designed to accept longer high-end gaming graphics cards thanks to the 330mm of clearance. Indeed, the list of functionality of micro ATX motherboards is growing and becoming more complete. Many system builders feel that ATX motherboards can be replaced by micro ATX motherboards nowadays. As such, COUGAR thinks that the mini gaming tower is a future trend for space-saving PC gaming stations.
The SPIKE mini tower sports a gaming themed style with interior black paint to give it a professional and sleek look.  Drive installation is quick and easy with the SPIKE due to COUGAR's screwless design technology for convenient on-the-fly data access of 3.5" and 2.5" HDDs/SSDs. The case also supports the installing of 2.5" HDD/SSD at the bottom cover.
With any PC case ventilation is crucial and COUGAR's SPIKE case handles it smartly. Conveniently, the COUGAR SPIKE case comes with one rear 120mm fan pre-installed. In total, there is support for 4 fans: one 80/90/120mm fan for the front (optional); one 80/120mm fan for the rear (pre-installed); and two side 120mm fans (optional).
Lastly, the COUGAR SPIKE Mini Gaming Tower PC Case supports the lasts, advanced USB3.0 port for maximum data transfer speeds.
Video credits to CougarGlobal

RIM BlackBerry 10 Cascades MapView [Video]

Canadian mobile phone maker Research In Motion is gearing up for the launch of its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, and is providing developers with more resources for their upcoming applications for the platform.

Committed to offering a rich set of mapping APIs for the OS, the company has included support for all Cascade developers out there in the latest SDK update for BlackBerry 10. Some app builders have already had the chance to get a taste of the new APIs, and the new release builds on the feedback provided by them, RIM notes. In the video embedded below, you can have a closer look at what BlackBerry 10 Cascades MapView is all about from the handset vendor’s perspective. Through MapView, developers will be able to enjoy beautiful map tiles out of the box, along with basic interactions like pinch-to-zoom and drag-n-pan. “You can also drop push pins for POIs and show bubbles to present more details about a POI. Better yet, both the pin and the bubble can be fully customized to represent your own branding. Although these cover the basic needs for most of us, anything with Cascades has to be a bit more special,” RIM explains.

The MapView also comes with APIs that enable “tilting and rotating the map in a 3D space,” pushing the idea of mapping on RIM’s platform one step forward. Devs will be able to connect these features with the gyroscope and the compass packed inside the smartphone, thus coming up with augmented reality apps in no time. “In fact, that’s exactly what I did in the CustomMapView sample app. The sample demonstrates the full power of MapView as of today and will be kept up to date as we add more features to our SDK. Please feel free to fork this in GitHub and contribute back,” RIM continues.

The company also notes that MapView in Cascades should provide a nice range of new possibilities to developers. Those who will get the new functionality for a spin are encouraged to provide feedback on the experience they have.

BlackBerry logo
Image credits to RIM
Beyond any doubt, mapping is one of the most valued features. We get it! With that in mind, we committed to a rich set of mapping APIs for BlackBerry 10. Some of you may have already seen it in our API references for Cascades; some of you may have tried it and, more importantly, provided feedback that mattered. Today, I am really excited to announce that with the latest SDK update (, we've got maps for all of our Cascades developers out there.
Video credits to BlackBerryDev

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