CrowdGadgets Episode 8
Download: CrowdGadgets Podcast Archive
Welcome to CrowdGadgets, the official podcast of the CrowdGather Gadget Network. The podcast is hosted by Calob Horton, John Freml, Stuart Cope, and William Devereux. This week’s episode covers the latest news from each of the CrowdGather gadget sites: Anythingbutiphone, Anythingbutipod, Good and EVO, Nothing But Tablets, Pocketables, and StreakSmart.
Microsoft released Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” this week, starting the roll-out to 98% of handsets. The software giant is encouraging eager customers not in the first wave to force the update via a special workaround. In conjunction with this release, Microsoft also launched the Windows Phone Web Marketplace and opened up a suggestion box for Windows Phone 8 features. Three new devices were also announced: the HTC Radar 4G on T-Mobile, Europe’s Samsung Omnia W, the ZTE Tania, and LG’s Jil Sanders designer handset.
Android had its fair share of news as well. HTC announced that the HTC Hero S and HTC Wildfire S are coming to US Cellular in October. The Taiwanese manufacturer also revealed the HTC Amaze 4G, which is destined for T-Mobile. Fujitsu-Toshiba is still in the game too, and plans to release one final device, the ARROWS Z ISW11F, before the joint venture breaks apart at the end of the year. Finally, Samsung announced that it had signed a major deal with Microsoft, securing the rights to use the Redmond giant’s patents in its Android devices.
The Zune Music Pass (formerly known as just the Zune Pass) is getting a price drop on October 3. The subscription, formerly $14.99 a month, is being dropped to $9.99. It will no longer include 10 free song credits, and subscribers will be able to download content to one PC and any combination of up to three PCs, Windows Phones, and Zune devices. Current subscribers will get to keep their plan, and all customers will now have free streaming access to the extensive Zune catalog of music videos.
Good and EVO
If you are a current Sprint customer and planned on billing your next HTC EVO upgrade to your account, you might want to do so fairly quickly. As of October 5, Sprint is doing away with the Bill to Account (BTA) option that allowed customers in good standing to pay for eligible upgrades later on their monthly bill. This change is apparently part of an internal “Seasons of Change” campaign that is trying to soften the impact of a variety of new cutbacks.
More details have been made clear about Sprint’s upcoming Strategy Update that is scheduled for October 7. This includes the launch of a brand new 4G LTE network in early 2012 that will be wholly owned by Sprint. This new network is being built out right now, using unused spectrum from the Nextel acquisition. Sprint expect this new network to save them up to $11 billion over the course of seven years.
Be sure to check out G&E for an unofficial press shot that was leaked of the upcoming HTC EVO Design 4G. This newest member of the EVO family is will have a 1.2GHz single-core Snapdragon processor, a 4-inch qHD display, dual cameras (5MP rear and 1.3MP front), 720p video recording, Android 2.3.3, 768MB RAM, WiFi n, and the Sprint WiMAX flavor of 4G. Nothing to write home about, but a huge improvement over the EVO Shift.
Nothing But Tablets
After months of rumors, Amazon finally revealed its new line of Kindles. The price of the standard Kindle (sans keyboard) is being dropped to $79, while the brand-new Kindle Touch will come in at a surprisingly low $99 for WiFi only and $149 for WiFi and 3G. Those in the mood for an Android-based tablet will be able to pick up the 7-inch Kindle Fire later this fall. Priced at $199, this full-color tablet will come with 8GB of internal storage, a dual-core processor, and a great touch screen. It will also integrate with all of Android’s current services.
Sony announced the release date for its new eReader, which is set for the end of September. The eReader model “PRS-T1WC” features a 6-inch multitouch e-ink screen, 1.3GB internal memory, microSD card slot for expandable memory (althought it will take a lot to fill that 1.3GB up), enough battery life for 14,000 page turns, and WiFi connectivity. It is linked to the Sony eBook store, and also is able to lend library books from libraries over the Overdrive network.
The Samsung Galaxy 4 .0 and Samsung Galaxy 5.0 were also given release dates, October 16. Both will come with a 1GHz processor, dual cameras, Bluetooth, WiFi, and a microSD card slot. The 4-inch Galaxy will be available for $229, while the 5-inch variant will run $269.
“Let’s talk, iPhone” may be what Apple’s invites were supposed to say, instead of “Let’s talk iPhone.” We have known for a while that Apple has purchased Siri, a voice recognition developer, and has also been in talks with Nuance. We also know that Apple might not be on the whole “grammar” bandwagon, so it makes sense that Apple would possibly be trying to hide something here.
Toshiba just announced a 7-inch variant of the Thrive Honeycomb tablet, which makes us extremely excited. It’s basically just a shrunken 10-inch Thrive, so the latter’s full-sized USB and HDMI ports have become mini and micro, respectively. The specs are the same; it’s just that the screen is smaller.
Kobo is bringing a 7-inch Vox Android tablet to market. This adds to the numerous other 7-inch tablets we saw introduced this week, including the Kindle Fire and the Toshiba Thrive. Unfortunately, all we know is that it will have some version of Android, 8GB of internal storage, and the 7-inch display will have a resolution of 1024 x 600.
Lastly, the Amazon Fire is going to blaze through the internet, thanks to its Silk browser, which will compress media and webpages with Amazon’s servers and send the compressed file(s) to the Kindle Fire for faster web browsing. And don’t worry about if/when the servers crash: the Fire is perfectly capable of browsing on its own, albeit at a slower speed.
This week, we received word from a tipster that the long anticipated Honeycomb update for the Streak 7 will start rolling out on October 7. This update will bring the beautiful interface of Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) to the 7-inch Android tablet. And even though Dell said the Streak 7 will get the update before the end of September, a week late is still better than never, and we are just happy it will finally receive Honeycomb.
Following this good news, we also found out about a new Streak-branded Dell handset called the Dell Streak Pro 101DL. This will be released in January 2012, although you should expect to see it a bit later in the US and the UK. More information is anticipated in January at CES 2012 in Las Vegas.