Posts tagged tablet

Android 3.1 update for Motorola Xoom available from today

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Existing users of Motorola Xoom and Xoom WiFi in India will receive an update from Android 3.0 to Android 3.1 over the air on July 29, the handset manufacturer has announced. The announcement concurs with an earlier report of The Mobile Indian.

The most notable of the new features, the 3.1 update activates the SD card slot so users can expand the memory of their Motorola Xoom up to 64GB, with the addition of a 32GB SD card. This update also includes improved multi-tasking, providing instant visual access to a large number of applications as well as resizable home screen widgets for Gmail, Calendar and Browser. Android 3.1 BrowserQuick Controls UI

Android 3.1 improves UI transitions, both within the system and across standard apps, says Google. Examples include an optimized  transition between the Launcher and the Apps list. Color, positioning, and text have all been tweaked for ease of use, and there is now a consistent audible feedback throughout the UI,

In addition, users are now said to be able to customize the touch-hold interval.

On the hardware front, Android 3.1 adds USB host support, as well as automatic hardware detection to support more USB accessories. Users can now attach "almost any type of external keyboard or mouse," and support has been added for PC joysticks and gamepads that are connected over USB or Bluetooth, says the company.

It will also bring, to the Motorola Xoom, support for most PC joysticks and gamepads that connect over USB or Bluetooth.

The Android 3.1 update will also enable the users to transfer picture directly from camera, so users can connect their cameras over USB and import their pictures to the gallery with a single touch.

Android 3.1 adds a WiFi lock feature that enables a continuous WiFi connection even when the device the screen is turned off. This enables users "to play continuous streamed music, video, and voice services for long periods, even when the device is otherwise idle." Besides, the Android 3.1 upgrade promises to bring Adobe Flash Player, as well as File Manager to the Xoom.

Google also announced it is adding movie rentals to Android Market. Starting today, thousands of movies starting at $2 a pop will be available, says the company. Users can rent a movie on their home computers, and then view it on their tablet or phone. Xoom users will get the feature today, and the update will roll out to Android 2.2 and above devices in the coming weeks.

The upgrade will be available over-the-air upgrade, which will trigger a notification window with the option for users to download the update immediately or at a later date. It can thereafter be downloaded manually by going to "Settings > About Tablet > System Updates". The upgrade is about 40MB in size. However, users must note here one thing that service providers do not provide over-the-air update. Hence, users may to upgrade their devices manually through Motorola’s website.

Other countries in Asia Pacific that will receive the same update include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

What are you hoping for with Android Ice Cream Sandwich?

Android Ice Cream Sandwich

There is no doubt Google is working hard on their next release of Android, called Ice Cream Sandwich. What we do know is that Ice Cream Sandwich will probably be version 4.0, and it will end the need to have different versions of Android for tablets (Honeycomb) and phones (Gingerbread and below). Google execs said this would be Google’s “everywhere” OS for mobile phones, tablets, and other connected devices. The only other rumor we have heard is that phones will no longer need physical hardware buttons.

Is this all that we can expect? If the answer is yes, then it is going to be a boring release because Honeycomb is cool, but simply bringing that to the phone is not enough. I am pretty sure there is going to be a lot more UI enhancements and features.

There are two things I would like to see with the next version of Android, and that is the ability to log in with different accounts on each device and more cloud syncing.

With devices being shared by more people in the household, it becomes necessary to have different logins or profiles. This need is more apparent with tablets because they are more likely to be shared with more than one person in the house. If your spouse or child picks up the tablet, they should be able to login under their name (Gmail and password), which will give them their profile, apps, and home screen settings. They will have their own contacts, calendar, app settings, and app data available to them as if it were their own device, but when I pick it up, I should be able to log into my account the same way, and have access to my information.

If more than one person wants to play Angry Birds, but the house has one tablet, each person should have their own progress saved. The same goes for other types of apps like newsreaders. Each user may want to follow different news feeds. Then there is Facebook, Twitter, and of course, the ever important Google+. I know that the device manufacturers would rather sell me three tablets for my house, but we are not at that stage yet.

The other important item I would like to see is cloud backups and syncing for app data. For some apps there is the option to back up your data to the SD card, but that is not efficient if you have a lot of apps. It also is not going to work well if you use multiple devices, like a phone and a tablet.

If I just played Angry Birds on my phone, I should be able to go to my tablet and be able to have my game data synced with Google’s servers. This would, of course, be tied to my Gmail address. Going back to my 1st request of user log ins; when I log into the “family” tablet, I will be able to continue Angry Birds from where I left off on my phone. This should work with all apps, but go beyond the data, and backup settings as well. This will also make it much easier when purchasing a new phone or doing a factory reset.

We did a story yesterday about an app called SyncIt which attempts to backup app data with Dropbox. This is a really nice app, but we need something more efficient that all developers can easily add to their apps. Apple announced this type of syncing with iOS 5. We can agree, that Apple copied a lot from Android with iOS 5, but we can also agree that there are elements like this that weren’t. It will be a very useful feature for Apple users, but we need it on Android as well.

I would like to hear from you. These two additions would be nice, but there has to be more. What changes or additions would you like to see with the release of Ice Cream Sandwich? This might be our last chance to tell Google before they put the finishing touches on what might be the biggest Android update ever.

News Phones Carriers Apps Games Calendar Podcast Video: Which tablet breaks easier – Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, or iPad 2?

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Those device-breaking videos show up online from time to time, bringing a hefty amount of gut-wrenching entertainment to all of us who choose to watch them. Well, today we have a rugged competition between the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Motorola Xoom, and the iPad 2. Though as a gadget lover it still hurts to watch the video, today’s video is a bit more beneficial to the consumer since it promotes the purchase of warranties/insurance (SquareTrade Warranties).

How many times have we thought that purchasing device insurance isn’t necessary? The factory warranty is there after all, right? Well, I can tell you that I have regretted this decision, sometimes less than a month after the purchase. These little guys are not like our old Nokias which seemed like they were built for Superman (I remember one lasted me like 3 years and more than 100 drops).

Well, for those that want to see just how delicate our Android devices can be, the guys at ElectronicsBreak have put these 3 tablets to the test. The video consists of dropping these from waist level, to what seems to be marble or concrete (whatever it is, it is definitely very hard!). We can clearly see that the Galaxy Tab suffered the least battle wounds, and the iPad 2 seems to be the most damaged (I can see your smiles!).

After seeing this video, how do you guys feel? Are you never opting out on that insurance again? Who else has had a bad experience with breaking a device shortly after purchasing it? Share your opinions with us and check out the video after the break.

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Motorola XOOM Review

motorola_xoom_android_community07-540x304thumb_ Motorola’s big launch of CES 2011 and the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet on the market, the Motorola XOOM has a lot to live up to. In its haste to reach Verizon shelves, the XOOM could seem a little half-baked; it doesn’t get Flash Player support for another few weeks, and won’t have 4G until an update sometime in Q2. Still, as the iPad has shown, there are undoubtedly benefits to being first out of the gate, and there’s undoubtedly plenty on offer. Can the XOOM bypass pricing skepticism? Check out the full SlashGear review after the cut.

Hardware and Performance

Motorola’s design is sober and discrete, and where the iPad shows off its brushed metal the XOOM seemingly prefers to let the 10.1-inch display do the talking. It’s a 160dpi, 1280 x 800 WXGA panel with a capacitive touchscreen supporting multitouch gestures, and while it doesn’t use the same IPS technology as the Apple slate, it still manages decent viewing angles. We’ve had no issues with touchscreen responsiveness, though at 9.8 x 6.61 x 0.51 inches and 25.75oz it’s a somewhat heavy device, and one-handed use can get tiring.

Inside, NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 is calling the shots, a dual-core 1GHz SoC paired with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 32GB of integrated storage. Although the XOOM has a microSD card slot, currently the tablet doesn’t support it; similarly, there’s an LTE SIM slot – filled with a blanking card – but that won’t be used until Verizon updates the tablet to 4G in Q2 2011. Instead, you get EVDO Rev.A, WiFi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, along with USB 2.0 and mini HDMI ports. Motorola is readying a WiFI-only XOOM, but that isn’t expected until later in the year.

We’ve seen sensors of various types proliferate on smartphones, and the XOOM ups the ante. As well as GPS, an accelerometer, digital compass, ambient light sensor and gyroscope, there’s a barometer for measuring air pressure. So far there’s no actual use for it in Honeycomb, but since it’s available for third-party developers to tap into via the Android 3.0 APIs, it’s only a matter of time before somebody takes advantage.

On the front is a 2-megapixel fixed-focus camera and a tricolor notification LED, though no physical controls, while on the back is a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with a dual-LED flash. It’s flanked by stereo speakers and the power/standby button. The only other hardware control is the volume rocker on the left hand edge. A 3.5mm headphone socket is on the top edge of the slate.

Software

While the hardware of the Xoom is notable, it’s not the real story. The real story is all about Android, and the next stage of its evolution – namely Honeycomb. Version 3.0 of the mobile operating system represents a significant change for just about every aspect of the user interface, and some notable alterations under the surface as well. As we’ve extensively covered, UI wunderkind Matias Duarte left Palm to work for Google less than half a year ago, and seems to have immediately dived into the work that he does best – reinventing user interfaces and user interaction for mobile devices.
The Honeycomb look and feel certainly has the work of a single mind written all over it – while we know this is very much a team effort (something we discussed with Matias in our interview at CES), it’s also clear that someone is steering the ship with far more resolve than ever before witnessed in this OS. From a purely visual standpoint, Android 3.0 comes together in a far more cohesive manner than any previous iteration of the software, and the changes aren’t just cosmetic. Much of the obscurity in the OS and arcane functions of this software have been jettisoned or drastically changed, making for an experience that is far more obvious to a novice user… though we wouldn’t exactly describe it as simple.
From a visual standpoint, we could most easily explain that Android 3.0 looks very much like the world of Tron. Think soft focus neon and cold, hard digital angles. A homescreen which phases between panels with a blue, ghosting glow that represents your last and next page. When you place items on the homescreens, you see a distant patchwork of grid marks, and a vector outline of where your icon or widget will eventually land. Even in the app list, you see electric blue representations of your icons before the icons themselves. The effect is angular, but the feel is still very human – like a cross between the "chromeless" environment of Windows Phone 7, and the photorealism of webOS or iOS. It absolutely works. From the overall look and feel down to the method in which you get widgets onto your pages or change the wallpaper, everything is new here.
Unlike Apple and it’s single-minded iOS, however, Android is still filled with variables and choices which make general navigation a learning process, and even though Honeycomb has made huge inroads to making that process simpler, it’s not 100 percent there. The general vibe of Android is still present here – you have a series of homescreens which are scrollable, and can be loaded up with a variety of application shortcuts, folders, shortcuts, and widgets. Unlike most mobile OSs, Honeycomb places the status bar along the bottom of the device, and then fills the left side of that bar with the constant pieces of navigation you’ll use to get around the OS.

Yes, gone are the hardware buttons of yesteryear – 3.0 replaces the familiar home and back buttons with virtual incarnations, then adds a couple of extra pieces for good measure. Along with those two main buttons, Honeycomb introduces a multitasking icon which pops open a list of recently used apps along with a snapshot of their saved state. The back button is also a little more dynamic in 3.0, shifting between a straightforward back key, and a keyboard-hider when necessary. If your app utilizes the menu key on Android phones, you get an icon for that as well. The home button will take you back to your main views, but it can’t get you to your apps. Instead, Honeycomb introduces a new (and somewhat confusing) button – an "apps" icon which lives in the upper right hand corner of your device. You might think that comes in handy, but you can only access your app pages from the homescreen of the tablet, meaning that you have to use a two step process to get to your app list. We’re not totally clear on why this isn’t another button that lives along the bottom of the device with the rest of the navigation, and frankly it proved confusing when we were trying to get around the Xoom quickly.
On the right side of that status bar are your battery and time indicators, along with a pop-up area for notifications. The whole structure of the status bar feels weirdly like Windows. When you get a new email or Twitter mention, you’re alerted in that righthand corner with an almost Growl-like box, which fades away quickly. When you tap on that space, you’re given a time and battery window where you’re also able to manage notifications (though strangely there’s no option to clear all notifications). A settings button present there will also allow you to change your brightness and wireless settings, orientation lock, or jump to the full settings of the device. In all, it’s a tremendously convenient piece of this new OS, but not a new OS trick by any means. The desktop feels alive and well in Honeycomb.

In applications like the browser – which is now far more like a desktop version of Chrome (with proper tabs and all) – you also get the sense that Google is taking a lot of cues from familiar places. Besides just offering bigger views and more real estate, there are drop down menus (located in the upper-right hand corner) and far more of the navigational items exposed. In fact, in all of the new native applications, there is no menu button present. All of the key elements of navigation are front and center, usually along the top of the app’s display, which should make for an easier time when it comes to getting things done, but can create confusing situations. For instance, in Gmail, your items in the upper right of the app change based on the context; that’s good for managing messages in one view, but creates some head-scratching moments in others. Worse, the back button (which you use frequently) is in the exact opposite corner, meaning that your gaze is constantly shifting between two places on the tablet – two places that are furthest apart. The experience encourages a lot of eye-darting, which makes quickly managing tasks somewhat of a chore. We wish that Google had somehow combined the app navigation and tablet navigation into a more closely related space, so that instead of jumping from corner to corner, you were able to focusing on one place for operation of the app, and another for its content. We found ourselves having this same experience all over the Xoom.
On the plus side (and it is a big plus), the Xoom feels much more like a real netbook or laptop replacement. Being able to multitask in the manner Google has devised, having properly running background tasks, and real, unobtrusive notifications feels really, really good in the tablet form factor. Additionally, the fact that Google has included active widgets that plug right into things like Gmail makes monitoring and dealing with work (or play) much more fluid than on the iPad.
One other big note: a lot of the new software feels like it isn’t quite out of beta (surprise surprise). We had our fair share of force closes and bizarre freezes, particularly in the Market app and Movie Studio. Most applications were fine, but there definitely some moments where we felt like the whole device was teetering on the brink of a total crash.
That said, there are some significant changes to stock applications and new additions to the family that we thought were worth a slightly deeper look, so here’s a breakdown of what you can expect — both old and new — when you open the Xoom box.

Browser

We loved the browsing experience on the Xoom. The included app is (as we said) far more like a desktop version of Chrome, and if you’re already using the software on your laptop or desktop, you’ll feel right at home. Pages displayed quickly and cleanly on the tablet, though we have to admit that we’re more than a little miffed that Flash support isn’t present out of the box with the Xoom. Strange considering this is one of the real advantages Android devices have over Apple’s offerings.
Despite our enjoyment, there were some maddening issues, like the fact that the browser still identifies as an Android phone, meaning most sites with a mobile view end up on your big, beautiful browser tab. Given how close this version is to the real Chrome, we’re surprised Google wasn’t a little more proactive about this.

Gmail

Gmail has been completely redesigned for Honeycomb, and it’s a big upgrade. We’d love to say that it’s all rainbows and butterflies, but there are some nagging problems that come along with the changes, and we’re hoping Google will clean it up a bit moving forward. The application seems to generally suffer from UI overload; there have always been a lot of hidden features in Gmail for Android, and now that those hidden elements are brought to the surface, it creates a feeling that you’re never in a single place. As with other parts of the OS, we found ourselves jumping to and fro trying to locate UI elements and get work done. Adding confusion to this new layout is the fact that menus now change contextually based on what you’ve selected, which means that not only are you dealing with scattered navigational items, but those items can change on the fly while you’re working.
Maybe we’re just too addicted to Gmail as it is now, but this incarnation feels splintered to us.

Battery

The battery is amazing. The battery is slick, works amazing, and can basically sit around working forever. The longest we’ve had it working with HEAVY use was over 14 hours – while I’m writing this review, the unit has been on almost 20 hours with no charging and moderate usage, and the battery appears to only be a half-empty. A full recharge take a total of around 3 hours – that’s starting at zero and ending up at completely full.

Connectivity and Price

You’ll be attaching to the rest of the world via EVDO Rev.A, WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and USB 2.0. You wont be able to make voice call out of box, and your plan with Verizon won’t be including voice calls, thusly if you’d like to call someone up you’ll want to hook yourself up with a voice over IP (VoIP) client or something along the lines of Skype. I’m sure you know the situation you’ll be in here as it’ll be very similar to what you’re doing with your desktop or laptop for calls.

You’re working with a 3G connection here for at least a couple of weeks if you purchase one at the same moment I write this review, and ith that you’ll be able to activate a mobile hotspot to connect the rest of your devices. Currently you’re able to purchase the XOOM direct from Verizon for $599 just so long as you attach it to a 2-year plan that starts at $20 per GB and $20 per additional GB, after which it’s $10 per additional GB on higher plans: 3GB for $35, $50 for 5GB, or $80 for 10GB — none of these has any sign of an additional fee for the hotspot, which means you’ll just be paying for the data no matter which way you’re utilizing it.

Music

It’s about time… isn’t it? The music app in Honeycomb has been completely, mercifully rethought, and it is stunning. As you can see in the above photo, gone is the amateurish and drab Android player. It’s now been replaced with a dimensional, 3D interface that isn’t just good looking, it’s actually useful. There are 2D views when you jump into albums and playlists, but the flipbook navigation is actually not bad for finding your music. Unfortunately, the Xoom seemed to have trouble recognizing all of our album art, and there were some issues with album art doubling up (our Engadget podcast logo seemed to get glued to another album). Minor issues aside, we’re impressed with the work Google has done here.

YouTube

Like the Music app, YouTube has gotten a revamp here. Keeping in line with the 3D feel of the Honeycomb interface, you’re presented with a wall of videos which you can pan through — kind of like your own wall of TVs (if TV had nothing but clips of people dancing and / or injuring themselves). If you’ve always wanted to feel like Ozymandias from the final pages of Watchmen, here’s your chance.
Playing videos was pretty much a standard YouTube experience… which unfortunately these days seems to mean watching for stuff to buffer. A lot.

Google Talk

We love the version of Google Talk present in Honeycomb. Not only does it provide clear, seamless integration with accounts you already use, but the way it utilizes both voice and video conversations is terrific.
The app itself is fairly straightforward, but it did take a little bit of head scratching before we figured out exactly how to move between voice, chat, and video. Our callers on the other end of the line said video quality was a bit on the low res side (see the photo above – Xoom up top, MacBook Pro camera in the corner) even on WiFi. We’re not sure why that would be the case, but hopefully it can be cleared up with some software tweaking.
Overall, however, the new Google Talk works in perfect harmony with the Xoom.

Conclusion

I’m not sure how much better an Android tablet can get right now – and this is the first one we’ve reviewed here at BGR. The Motorola XOOM packs a serious punch, and doesn’t have room to store an ice pack. I love that Motorola has been pushing forward with innovate ideas and concepts, most notably with the ATRIX 4G, and the XOOM isn’t an exception. It features great hardware, impressive specifications, and the latest Android OS designed just for tablets. There are many things to rave about with the XOOM, though there were some annoyances and frustrations that stemmed from Google’s OS for the most part and not from Motorola’s hardware.

Tablets are the new craze, and while they are selling, I personally still don’t see a huge need to have a tablet. As a toy used to discover new and incredible apps, and to use for 20 or 30 minutes a day to read and catch up on Twitter or do some emailing, sure. But the XOOM definitely can’t replace a laptop. I think that the Motorola XOOM is a great product, I’m just not 100% sold on Honeycomb at this point as an operating system. I don’t believe it’s very innovative, and I don’t find it to be any better than alternatives in terms of ease of use, intuitiveness, or wide availability of apps. With that said, the Motorola XOOM goes on sale tomorrow in the U.S. for $599 with a two-year service agreement, and I’m sure plenty of people will thoroughly enjoy it despite the aforementioned shortcomings.

 

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Google tightening the reins on Android

thumb_550_google-squeeze Google apparently has changed its approval process for devices to use its software (that’d be Android), cracking down on the way the software is changed and how third-party partnerships will be handled, according to the folks at Bloomberg.  Now, companies that want access to the latest version of Android will need approval of the things they want to do to it. And that approval will come from none other than Andy Rubin.

Google says it is going to tighten and enforce "non-fragmentation clauses," that intend to limit things like customization of the interface, and how manufacturers can partner with other services like Facebook or Microsoft.  Bloomberg tells us that things have already gotten heated, with complaints to the U.S. Justice Department being lodged.  There’s also mention that Google has tried to hold back the release of devices on Verizon because they make use of the Bing services. Hello, HTC Merge, maybe that’s why you disappeared for a while.

While I’m all for keeping crappy software away from hot, new devices like the Evo 3D, I’m certain that this doesn’t mean the end of manufacturer skins.  And it shouldn’t – many enjoy the extras that come with manufacturer enhanced user interfaces, and a bit of curation by Google should make for an easier upgrade path.  But I fear this is going to greatly affect the release cycle of the source code for the AOSP project, and not for the better.  We’ll just have to wait and see how this develops. [Bloomberg BusinessWeek] Thanks, everyone who sent this in!

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Motorola XOOM and Honeycomb Review

Motorola Xoom Review: The First Android Honeycomb Tablet Is Expensive, But Is It Worth It? [We Test Out The Xoom And Its Tegra 1GHz Processor, 10-inch Screen and Android 3.0 Goodness.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Motorola Xoom lately. The 10-inch widescreen tablet is the first to carry the tablet-ready Android 3.0 and the rest of its technical specs read like a wish list, but more recently, its high price has drawn attention and headlines to the device. So, after spending some time with the device, is the Motorola Xoom worth the high price that it’ll cost you?

Technical Specificationsxoom350
  • Price: $599 with a 2 year data plan ($799 without a plan).
  • CDMA 800/1900 and with a free upgrade to LTE later this year
  • Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)
  • 5 MP camera and 2 MP front camera with flash, focus & digital zoom. Pictures and Video’s
  • Media enabled, Music & Video on the device or streaming
  • close to 9 hrs battery life over 3G and 10 hrs over wifi, standby time is close to 14 days
  • Email, Google mail, corporate, pop3/imap
  • Google talk
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Data sync via Micro USB port to USB (no Charging)
  • GPS
  • Headset jack
  • Adobe Flash player
  • Android Market place (limited in applications optimized for tablets)
  • Googl Services, Maps, Talk, Ebooks, YouTube
  • Multi touch screen
  • Voice Commands
  • Live wallpapers
  • 10.1 inch WXGA 1280×800 px screen.
  • HD 720p
  • 730 grams
  • 32 GB memory expandable with micro sd card
  • 1 GHZ Dual core processor
  • Accelerometer, Gyroscope, proximity, ambient light, barometer

Hardware and Performance

This is a machine that has been released with its hardware ready and raring to go. Isn’t that supposed to be something that goes without saying? Yes, of course! You might find that the same cannot entirely be said about the software, though, thus the pre-mention here – more on that in the next section. What we’ve got to speak about here first is the loveliness in the physical bits.

This device is black. It’s very clearly supposed to be a blank canvas on which you’re meant to paint your first tablet experience. Because this tablet is being released in a world where one slate’s dominated the market for the first full year of the market being a reality, there’s two situations the vast majority of consumers are in. The first possible situation consumers are in whilst thinking about the XOOM is one where they’ve had an iPad – the second is one where they’ve never had a tablet at all. Thusly, the hardware choice is more than likely one where a consumer has been holding a tablet that’s basically the exact same size and weight as the XOOM, or they’ve had a much smaller smartphone and will be what they see as moving upward.

When one handles the 10.1-inch WXGA display with 160dpi, 1280 x 800 resolution, they instantly must consider the .8 x 6.61 x 0.51 inch device holding it, one that weighs in at 25.75oz (1.61lbs,) as it’s not especially realistic to be holding the device with one hand for more than a few minutes at a time. Then there’s the glossy, glossy screen. It’s so very glossy, it’s basically impossible to use anywhere near sunlight or a lamp. On the other hand, if you’re going to be using this device on your couch at home, at your desk in school, or for odd events like using it to show the 4D-sonogram doctor some 2D-sonogram pictures in a gallery. For that it works exceedingly well, indeed.

It doesn’t seem to our fingers that the screen’s response time and touch sensitivity could possibly be any better, and the monster motor inside is more than ready to back this situation up. You’ll find the NVIDIA Tegra 2 inside, a dual-core 1GHz SoC paired with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and 32GB of integrated storage. If that’s not enough to flip your lid, connections include EVDO Rev.A, WiFi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, along with USB 2.0 and mini HDMI ports. In the future you’ll be able to have the following instead and/or as well: a functional LTE SIM slot, a functional microSD card slot, and a whole separate Wifi-only version of the device.

What’s the web saying about Honeycomb?

Engadget (Joshua Topolsky): “a lot of the new software feels like it isn’t quite out of beta (surprise surprise). We had our fair share of force closes and bizarre freezes, particularly in the Market app and Movie Studio. Most applications were fine, but there definitely some moments where we felt like the whole device was teetering on the brink of a total crash.”

CrunchGear (John Biggs): “if you open too many apps, it slows down to a crawl. The horrors that Apple seems to have avoided in iOS are readily apparent here. I had quite a few app crashes and many apps designed for 2.x devices crashed. Google Body, remade for Honeycomb, crashed every other try”.

WSJ ( Walt Mossberg): “I’ve always felt that Android had a rough-around-the edges, geeky feel, with too many steps to do things and too much reliance on menus. But Honeycomb eliminates much of that”. He went on to point out: “I found numerous apps in the Android Market that wouldn’t work with the Xoom”.

GigaOM (Kevin Tofel): “Honeycomb still has bugs to be worked out. Aside from some third-party apps crashing, the Android Market has crashed on me twice in a short time. And after Facebook crashed, the Facebook widget became completely non-responsive.” There’s good stuff too as Tofel also points out “Notifications are excellent, and competitors should take note.”

Slashgear (Vincent Nguyen): “The first batch of Honeycomb slates may have some wrinkles – the missing Flash and paucity of video codec support being two examples – but 2011 definitely looks to be the year that Android tablets will come of age.”

Cameras and Multimedia

There are two cameras on the XOOM, one on the back for photos and video, and another on the from primarily for video, but also for not-quite-great photos if that’s what you’d like to use it for. The back-facing camera is a 5-megapixel unit with auto-focus and dual-LED flash. The front-facing camera is 2-megapixels strong, has a fixed-focus, and can be switched to at the tap of a button. What you’re about to see here is a video example from both the front and the back cameras filmed by yours truly.

The back-facing camera is capable of capturing 720p HD video at 30fps, while a 1080p upgrade is promised for the future, while the front-facing camera’s recording capabilities really aren’t worth pecking about. Allow the video above to speak for itself as far as how this all translates to the web. As far as how well it plays back on the device, you’ve got the capability currently of displaying 1080p video on either the device’s screen or via the HDMI 1.4 output which you’ll be shooting out with the cable bundled with the tablet.

If you want to play any video you didn’t film with the device outside the web, it’ll need to be MP4, WebM, 3GP, or H.264/H.263. You could, on the other hand, download a third-party media player and roll with whatever format you can get working on your own. You’ll be rolling strong plopping videos on the device if you’re working with Mac OS X by working with the brand new Android File Transfer, which, if I may be so bold, makes the whole process of accessing the files on your Android device a WHOLE lot easier. Hopefully it works on all versions here on out (currently it works with Android 3.0 only.)

Of course, there’s the lack of Flash player. You’ll need to wait at least another week or two(?), or so, to be sent the update for this and the other things you’ll need to have a “fully” functional device. The ability to work with and watch movies with Flash player has been a big fat point of contention on devices over the past year or so – it’s no less a situation here. But it’s on the way!

Battery

The battery is amazing. The battery is slick, works amazing, and can basically sit around working forever. The longest we’ve had it working with HEAVY use was over 14 hours – while I’m writing this review, the unit has been on almost 20 hours with no charging and moderate usage, and the battery appears to only be a half-empty. A full recharge take a total of around 3 hours – that’s starting at zero and ending up at completely full.

Conclusion

The purpose of this overview is not to bash Honeycomb; there are lots of great features that Google has produced in this first tablet version. But that’s the problem: I’m not sure Google has the luxury of time to get the tablet experience nailed down to the point it is ready for consumer adoption. The recurring mention of crashes in early reviews is not something we should be hearing about a shipping product, and with the XOOM Honeycomb is indeed now shipping. Honeycomb needed to come out swinging for the fence, but it’s still in batting practice.

I suspect the state of Honeycomb had a lot to do with HTC choosing to go with an earlier version of Android for its upcoming Flyer tablet. It would not product a tablet with a glitchy OS. I also believe that what I’ve seen (in person) of webOS on the HP TouchPad is a better and more solid experience on a tablet. Google has its work cut out for Honeycomb, and better move quickly.

 

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LG behind official Google Nexus tablet?

lg-nexus-pad_1 LG may be Google’s OEM of choice for developing a Nexus-branded tablet, and this device could run on the upcoming Ice Cream platform.

Russian blogger Eldan Murtazin is predicting a US summer release for the mystery tablet, a prediction in line with the assumption that Google will announce the product at its annual Google I/O conference in the second week of May. This could also be when Google unveils its Ice Cream Android OS, a system pundits believe will reunite Android’s smartphone and tablet platforms.

Interestingly, Murtazin reports that LG might not have been Google’s first choice – however, competing OEMs Samsung, HTC and Motorola are not interested in developing a product that would eat into the profits of their own devices. This is a great opportunity to grab some mind-share for LG, which also has its own Optimus Pad Android tablet coming out mid-year.

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Samsung presented a new Android tablets

The South Korean company Samsung Electronics at CTIA Wireless 2011, as promised, today announced its new model Tablet PC-based operating system Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) – GALAXY Tab 10.1 and GALAXY Tab 8.9, which, according to the manufacturer, at a thickness of 8.6 body mm is the thinnest tablet PC in the world at the moment.

GalaxyTab101Orlando

Both models (pictured above – a model GALAXY Tab 10.1) equipped with dual-core processor with 1 GHz and supports the ability to work in mobile HSPA + networks at speeds up to 21 Mbps in addition to standard Bluetooth wireless technology and Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n. The main difference GALAXY Tab 10.1 and GALAXY Tab 8.9 is displays on the diagonal, which in the first, it is 10.1 inches, and the second 8.9-inch, respectively.

Specifications novelties:

  • Supported communication standards: HSPA + 21Mbps 850/900/1900/2100 MHz; EDGE / GPRS 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
  • Operating System: Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), interface Samsung TouchWiz UX
  • Dimensions: 256.6 h172, 9h8, 6 mm (GALAXY Tab 10.1); 230,9 h157, 8×8, 6 mm (GALAXY Tab 8.9)
  • Weight: 595 gr. (GALAXY Tab 10.1); 470 gr. (GALAXY Tab 8.9)
  • Display: 10.1-inch (GALAXY Tab 10.1); 8,9-inch (GALAXY Tab 8.9) a resolution of 1280×800 pixels
  • Main camera: 3 megapixel with autofocus and LED backlight
  • Front camera: 2 MP
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • Supports video formats: MPEG4/H263/H264, Divx / Xvid; (playback 1080p Full HD @ 30fps, recording 720p HD)
  • Support audio formats: MP3, AAC, AAC +, eAAC +, OGG, MIDI, AMR-NB/WB
  • 3,5 mm audio jack for headphones, stereo speakers
  • Availability of application Quickoffice HD Editor
  • Support for Adobe Flash Player 10.2
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, USB 2.0, WiFi 802.11 (a / b / g / n)
  • Sensors: gyroscope, accelerometer, digital compass, ambient light sensor
  • Memory: 16/32/64 GB microSD slot for memory cards
  • Battery: 6800 mAh (GALAXY Tab 10.1); 6000 mAh (GALAXY Tab 8.9)

 

 

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WeatherBug for Honeycomb Review

Have a look with us at the most dominant weather app in the Android world, this one optimized not only for Android 3.0 Honeycomb, but specifically for the giant screens that Honeycomb is meant for. This is WeatherBug, an app made by WeatherBug Mobile, and we’ve got it working on the Motorola XOOM. This app is not only free, it’s utterly professional, and the ads that make it free are basically completely hidden (or built in so well you don’t even notice them as out of place.

weatherbug_honeycomb_01-540x337

First Impressions

When you first open the app, you notice one thing – your location shows up. Of course, there’s several other locations that show up as well, but you’d like to see the temperature in New York, right? I would. Every other little bit of weather you could ever want to see, the same stuff you’d see on the screen whilst watching the daily news and weather on television. And more. Each city has a tiny arrow in the corner showing that you could click it, or click it twice quickly rather, and there’s even MORE information, like what time of the day the sun is going to rise and set – a feature we’d like all by itself, and here it is in a bigger more awesome app.

weatherbug_honeycomb_02-540x337

And all of this is on the first screen. It’s difficult to say anything negative about this app, and not at all because it’s totally free. The first page has weather information and forecast, the second page has a map that’ll show you a Weather Layer on top of Satellite and Traffic layers fed by Google, those layers adjustable by opacity and animation frames delivered as clouds pass by.

weatherbug_honeycomb_05-540x337

There’s More?

Yes there’s basically a bonus feature that consists of real-world photographs from participating locations in your city. How often are these photos updated? It’s unclear, but that’s alright. Clearly these photos are inside the… hour? We can see that it’s night, and that there’s snow on the ground. That seems pretty accurate for us. If these photos are updated inside the hour, all the better.

weatherbug_honeycomb_10-540x337

Since Accuweather fails at life as a widget on Android 3.0, it brings us great pleasure to inform you that Weatherbug for Honeycomb has been released and is available for free!  It has a widget (small one) that actually works, you can set up multiple cities to track, and the UI is a knock-off of Android 3.0 that we 100% approve of.  This is how you do a tablet app.  Oh, and you’ll also notice a barometer reading because the XOOM has one, unlike some other tablets. 

Download Link (free)

The final two features aren’t features really, they’re settings including Units, My Location, and Background Weather Updating, and a screen that’ll allow you to add cities to your list of watched locations. This feature is dense too in that you’re allowed to get quite specific on where you are as well as which weather station you’d like to follow. Well played!

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Samsung Epic, Galaxy Tab, and Transform OTA’s coming from Sprint March 21

Sprint’s Epic 4G, Galaxy Tab, and Samsung Transform will all be receiving OTA updates starting March 21 according to documents leaked to us by an anonymous tipster(s).  The above picture was sent to us, as well as the full text by a duo of tipsters, so we’re almost certain this will pan out.

thumb_550_epic22

The Epic 4G will be updated OTA to EC05, which is Android 2.2.1 (Froyo), and according to the docs will add Sprint ID.

The Galaxy Tab will be updated to EB28 which is also Android 2.2.  This update will add Sprint ID and the ability to check usage numbers.

The Samsung Transform will also be updated to EB28 which will add Swype, upgrade the Sprint Zone to version 2.5, and provide various bug fixes in search, mobile hotspot, and Google sync issues.

These updates are all scheduled to begin Monday, and it may take up to four days to complete the rollout.  Thanks to both of our tipsters!

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