Is Amazon preparing to launch an Android tablet? Peter Rojas of gdgt thinks so, and the time does seem right for a refresh to the company's Kindle e-reader; the last time the product got a major upgrade was two years ago. And, as Rojas points out, there's a wealth of circumstantial evidence that points toward Amazon readying a tablet.
Apple has thoroughly dominated the tablet market since the iPad first went on sale about a year ago. The company sold more than 14 million iPads last year, and analysts project that Apple will move as many as 60 million iPad 2s in 2011 (though first-quarter sales were down). Although there was buzz that the Motorola Xoom, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, or the BlackBerry PlayBook might present some competition for Apple's wildly popular tablet, no company has yet been able to produce a tablet worthy of taking on the mighty iPad. Amazon might be the most likely candidate.
This will be the second LTE phone on Verizon's network, following the HTC Thunderbolt. The Droid Charge will be running Android 2.2 and powered by a 1-GHz processor. It will feature a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen, as well as an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash, and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for photos and video chatting.
The Droid Charge's Web browser will support Adobe Flash, and the phone will come loaded with Samsung Media Hub, which features movies and televisions shows to rent or buy.
Verizon claims that users can expect download speeds of 5 – 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 – 5 Mbps when connected to the 4G LTE network. The Droid Charge will also feature a mobile hotspot mode that allows up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices to tap into those 4G speeds, or up to five devices to connect when on the 3G network. Even better, Verizon is including the mobile hotspot feature at no additional cost for a limited time.
The Droid Charge will be available in Verizon stores and online for $299.99 with a new two-year contract. Verizon is also offering a $25 credit to the Samsung Media Hub for users purchasing the phone.
Gear Live has tested a number of devices on Verizon's 4G LTE network, and it is indeed fast. We will soon be testing the Droid Charge and will post a full review.
"Spring is upon us and the time is ripe for some chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies! So shed the winter gear and get in—Easter Eggs have never been this delicious!" Rovio said in its update notice. "If you think St. Patrick's Day was a blast, well, you ain't seen nothing yet! This episode will again prove that Angry Birds is the most generous update giver of them all!"
The Easter update includes 15 new springtime levels. Rovio also promised that it "will soon launch the biggest alternate reality game with Angry Birds ever—be prepared to seek for clues around the world to discover the secrets hidden in Angry Birds Seasons!"
Angry Birds Seasons is available for $0.99 on the App Store and free from Android app stores and the Ovi Store. Players who have already downloaded Angry Birds Seasons will get the Easter version as a free upgrade.
This morning HTC announced the Sensation 4G smartphone. This one sports a 4.3-inch Super LCD display, dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, and ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread with the HTC Sense 3.0 UI. It's very similar to the HTC EVO 3D, but usurps it with an 8 megapixel rear camera, dual LED flash, and records video at 1080p at 30 frames per second. This is an HSPA+ device that will be coming to T-Mobile, sporting download speeds up to 14.4 Mbps. We'll have hands-on impressions in a few.
I have been watching Amazon's recent moves involving Android with great fascination. Two weeks ago, it launched the Amazon Appstore that focuses on Android apps, and last week it announced a cloud-based music service with a special version just for Android. Although Google has its own Android Marketplace, Amazon is bringing a more structured store to Android with room for users comments and reviews—a key step to vetting the apps it carries.
This is a very strategic move by Amazon, and it could actually bring some sanity and consistency to the Android development community and all Android users. At the moment, Google's approach to creating Android is scattered. There are so many versions of this OS floating around that the OEMs who license Android are increasingly frustrated with Google's lack of discipline in laying out a consistent roadmap for Android that they can follow.
At first, Google said it would have one version of Android for smartphones and another for tablets. Now it says that it will merge both versions into a product codenamed Ice Cream and that it most likely will be the same OS used on Google TVs in the future as well. Initially, vendors could only use one version for devices with up to 7 inch screens and another one for screens larger then 7 inches but less then 11 inches.
"It's official, T-Mobile's Sidekick 4G arrives on April 20," T-Mobile tweeted this morning. The G2x, meanwhile, will be available online on April 15 and in stores on April 20, T-Mobile also tweeted. It will sell for $199.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and two-year contract.
T-Mobile confirmed plans for the Samsung Sidekick 4G back in January, and provided more details last month. It features a 3.5-inch, 800-by-480 screen and is based on a heavily customized Android 2.2.1 and Samsung's TouchWiz. The screen slides up with a click to reveal the 5-row QWERTY keyboard.
Two and a half years ago, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and T-Mobile introduced the world to the very first phone, the G1. It was a good phone with a workmanlike design, decent keyboard, an average screen and lots of Google goodness built right into it. No one, least of all me, thought it stood much of a chance against the surging Apple iPhone.
For a solid year, the platform looked like a dud. But a funny thing happened on the way to the morgue.
Seven months later, T-Mobile unveiled the keyboard-less MyTouch 3G. As before, it was a nice looking, though slightly curvier, Android phone. It wasn't until the fall of 2009, more than a year after the G1 and Android's launch, that the platform got interesting. That was when Motorola started talking openly about the Droid. By casting aside just two letters and joining with the leading mobile carrier that didn't get the iPhone, Motorola and Google signaled their intention to make Android bolder, sexier and far more desirable.
With the additional feature, HP ePrint printers can now print via Cloud Print right out of the box, via the PC and the beta form of the technology for Android smartphones. However, we found that the technology was clunky at best.
Users can simply "email" the document to the HP ePrint address, allowing it to directly print via the Cloud Print service. Users need to add this email address to their Google account, Google said. A list of supported printers can be found at the HP site.
Previously, users had three ways of printing from an ePrint wireless printer: connect it via USB; go through a lengthy wireless setup process; including manually entering WPA/WEP keys and other security features, as well as creating a link between the computer and router from a "one touch method" that still required users to navigate several menus on the HP printer.
Amazon needs a way to hold on to its music customers in a post-CD era, and tightly integrating its new cloud music service with Amazon MP3 purchases might help it do that, but the concept of a "music locker" is not exactly the most innovative approach and could face licensing issues, according to analysts.
Earlier this week Amazon unveiled a new cloud-based music service that provides users with up to 5GB of free, online music storage, and 20GB of free access for a year if they purchase an album via Amazon MP3. Beyond that, it's $20.
"Amazon needs to establish a strong post-CD role for its music customers, [and] this smartly positioned locker service is an important first step in building that future role," Mark Mulligan, a Forrester research analyst, wrote in a blog post.
Mulligan cautioned, however, that Amazon Cloud Player is not exactly revolutionary. "As logical a next step in the digital music market as locker services might be, they're not an innovation in the music product. They're simply giving people access to the music they have on the devices they own."
Amazon unveiled its new cloud-based music service today, which will provide users with up to 5GB of free, online music storage.
The company is offering Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon Cloud Player for Web, and Amazon Cloud Player for Android, all of which will let users upload their music collections to the cloud and access those songs on Android phones and tablets, as well as the PC and Mac.
No word on an iOS version, but Amazon recently launched an Amazon Appstore, so it's focus at the moment is likely on the Google-owned platform.
Amazon will provide users with 5GB of free storage. Those who purchase an album via Amazon's MP3 store will get 20GB of free storage for one year; albums purchased via Amazon MP3 are automatically added to Amazon's cloud service and do not count against a user's storage quota. Additional storage plans start at $20 per year, Amazon said.
Users can upload songs in AAC or MP3 formats, and can select certain songs, artists, or albums, or just upload the entire music library.
"The launch of Cloud Drive, Cloud Player for Web and Cloud Player for Android eliminates the need for constant software updates as well as the use of thumb drives and cables to move and manage music," Bill Carr, vice president of Movies and Music at Amazon, said in a statement.
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