CDMA version of HTC Touch Pro gets FCC approval

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Jun 302008
 

HTC Touch Pro

The North American version of the HTC Touch Pro is one step closer now that the FCC has approved a CDMA version of the device. This bodes well (but does not guarantee) that the HTC Touch Pro will land in North America. Then again, according to PhoneArena, both Sprint and Verizon in the U.S. will offer not only the HTC Touch Pro but also the HTC Touch Diamond. In Canada, both Bell Mobility and Telus could also end up offering it.

A closer look shows that the Raph800 (as the model is called in the documents) will support EV-DO on both the 850 and 1900MHz bands.

Source: Engadget Mobile

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Real launches Rhapsody MP3 store

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Jun 302008
 

Real Networks is the latest company to launch a DRM-free MP3 store. To date, Rhapsody had focused on subscription-based services. Rhapsody Vice President Neil Smith explained the shift this way: “We’re no longer competing with the iPod, we’re embracing it,” recognizing that Rhapsody’s incompatibility with the Apple iPod undermined Rhapsody’s ability to compete in the digital music market.

The Rhapsody MP3 store will offer more than 5 million songs from all four major labels and an extensive number of independent labels and offers full song previews prior to purchase (iTunes limits previews to 30 seconds).

Most songs on Rhapsody will sell for USD$0.99 and albums for USD$9.99. It is only available in the U.S. at this time. With the launch, Rhapsody is offering the first 100,000 customers to sign up a free album.

Already competing with the Apple iTunes store are Amazon MP3 and Napster among others.

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(PRODUCT) RED to launch subscription music service

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Jun 302008
 

(RED), the private company that fights AIDS in Africa by partner with other companies (such as Apple and Dell) to raise funds through the sale of unique (PRODUCT) RED products, has announced that it will offer a music subscription service in the fall.

The yet-to-be-named service will cost USD$5 per month and will offer weekly issues containing a selection of four elements:

  • A (RED) SONG – exclusive from one of the world’s best artists
  • A Discovery – a great song by an emerging talent
  • A “Crackerjack surprise” – a fun piece of non-music content
  • Detailed stories of (RED) dollars being put to work in Africa

Both songs will come in MP3 format.

The subscription fee will be split evenly between (RED) and the artists that contribute songs.

According to The New York Times, musicians who have already agreed to offer songs include U2, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Emmylou Harris and Death Cab for Cutie.

The (RED) music software will also provide visuals to go with the music. Up to 30 images will accompany each song and subscribers will be able to contribute others that will then be seen by other subscribers.

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Upcoming Asus Eee 904 and 905 to feature larger keyboards

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Jun 302008
 

Asus has two new Asus Eee PCs in the pipeline, according to DigiTimes sources. The 904 and 905 models will both come with an 8.9-inch display but will use a chassis and keyboard similar to that of the 1000. Both will also use Intel Atom processors but Asus is still undecided on whether to increase battery and storage capacities.

The Asus 904 Eee PC would likely succeed the 900 while the 905 would succeed the 901 and would sell at the same prices as those. Asus is also still deciding whether to keep the 900 and 901 in the market (at lower price points) or simply phase them out.

It’s not clear at this time when the new 904 and 905 would hit the street.

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New Treo 800w details leaked

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Jun 292008
 

Rumoured Palm Treo 800w

If training and specifications documents leaked to Engadget are genuine, we now have additional details about the upcoming Palm Treo 800w.

The documents reveal that the Treo 800w will use a 333MHz processor, come with a microSDHC card slot, measures 11.2 x 5.79 x 1.85 centimeters (4.41 x 2.28 x 0.73 inches) and weighs 140 grams (4.94 ounces). Details leaked earlier have also been confirmed: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, a 320×320 touchscreen display, GPS, a 2MP camera, and Wi-Fi button.

Interestingly, the Palm 800w will support threaded SMS but not MMS. Instead of MMS, it will come with Sprint Picture Mail.

The Palm Treo 800w is expected on the Sprint network on July 13th and should be available for USD$249.99 with contract and rebates.

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Rogers Wireless defends iPhone service plan pricing

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Jun 282008
 

Rogers Wireless

As soon as Rogers Wireless announced its iPhone 3G plans, there were as many howls of protests as there were cheers. Electronista managed to talk about the plans with a Rogers spokeswoman who defended them and the fact that there is no unlimited data plan (as offered by AT&T in the U.S. and a few others).

Rogers noted that a “majority” of international carriers are capping iPhone 3G data plans and argues that its plans are superior to many of those. The spokeswoman also said that “Unlimited plans could end up costing customers more for what they don’t use.” As Electronista points out, there is a contradiction between the argument that caps are in customers’ best interests and then saying that customers use little data. If Canadians use little data, why not just give us a single unlimited plan? Would everyone not win in that case?

Personally, I’m leaning towards not getting the iPhone at this point. The plans, while expensive compared to many other countries, are much more reasonable than what we have seen in the past in Canada. I’ve held off getting a data plan to date because I did not want to have to hand over my first-born. What annoys me more is the three year commitment. By then, Apple will likely have come out with newer iPhones (not to mention all its competitors and their new devices) and I suspect that every upgrade will give Rogers an opportunity to further extend contracts (lifetime servitude?). I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that Rogers will offer similar plans for Windows Mobile devices and then pick up something like an HTC Touch Pro and avoid the long-term contract.

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Virgin Mobile USA to acquire Helio

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Jun 282008
 

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile USA announced yesterday that it plans to acquire Helio, a joint venture between SK Telecom and EarthLink, Inc. The move is expected to allow Virgin Mobile to add the Helio services and data application to its portfolio and gain it about 170,000 customers who spend an average of USD$80 per month, compared to the industry average of about USD$50. It also marks the first time that it will offer subscription plans. To date, Virgin Mobile USA had only offered prepaid plans focused primarily on voice and text services.

Helio had launched in May 2006 but has struggled to make inroads in the U.S. market. Helio had positioned itself as a purveyor of sophisticated data services such as Google maps with GPS, integrated You Tube and MySpace applications. While the services will be maintained, Virgin Mobile plans to phase out the Helio brand in favour of its own.

The deal is valued at USD$39 million and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2008.

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Nokia announces Supernova designer phone range

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Jun 272008
 

Nokia 7610 Supernova

Today, Nokia announced a new line of mobile phones aimed at style conscious men and women. They offer various designs and exchangeable covers to further personalize the phones. As Jo Harlow, vice president, LIVE category, Nokia, explained it:

“With the Supernova range, we set out to give people the ability to set themselves apart in the same way that they would with a traditional statement accessory.”

The line kicks off with four models.

The Nokia 7610 Supernova is a slider form factor with quad-band (850/900/1800/1900MHz) GSM/GPRS/EDGE connectivity, a QVGA display, 30MB free user memory, a 3.2MP camera with dual LED flash, a TV-out port, Bluetooth 2.0, an FM radio, and a microSD card slot. Customers can choose from four different Xpress-On covers and the 7610 also features a Theme Colorizer which captures any colour and applies to the phone key illumination and wallpaper.

The Nokia 7510 Supernova is a clamshell design that features very similar specifications to the 7610. The differences include a 2MP camera with single LED flash, a 2.2 inch QVGA display and A-GPS. It comes with both front and back Xpress-On covers available in ‘storm blue’, ‘red’, ’emerald green’ and ‘espresso brown’, and magical light effects with a hidden-until-lit display.

The Nokia 7310 Supernova is a candybar phone that comes with tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE connectivity, a 2-inch QVGA display, 32MB free user memory , Bluetooth 2.0, a 2MP camera, a TV-out port, FM radio, and a microSD card slot. It can be customized with both front and back Xpress-On covers.

The Nokia 7210 Supernova is another candybar phone. It features similar specs to the 7310 (no TV-out port though) but comes in either glossy finish ‘bubble gum pink’ or ‘vivid blue’. It will not work with Xpress-On covers.

The Nokia 7310 Supernova will be the first to be available. It will sell for €155 and be available this quarter. The 7210 and 7610, available in Q3 2008, will will for €120 and €225 respectively. The 7510 will follow in Q4 and will sell for €180.

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Opera Mobile 9.5 coming soon to Windows Mobile

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Jun 272008
 

Opera Software

So far, the only devices to have Opera Mobile 9.5 for Windows Mobile are the HTC Touch Diamond and the upcoming HTC Touch Pro. The question for many has been when it would become available for other Windows Mobile devices. Opera has now posted some answers for us on their Opera Mobile blog.

As you probably know, releasing a version that works on a large variety of phones is more complex than making it work on one specific phone. You should also expect a few differences between the versions that are pre-installed on phones and the public version of Opera Mobile 9.5.

Opera Mobile 9.5 for Windows Mobile is now undergoing release testing and the first beta will be released on July 15th. There is no word yet on when the final version will be released though.

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Rogers Wireless announces Apple iPhone 3G plan prices

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Jun 272008
 

Rogers Wireless

Rogers Wireless has released details about the voice and data plans that you will be able to get with the Apple iPhone 3G starting on July 11th.

With monthly plans starting at $60 for voice and data combined, Rogers offers a wide selection of high value price packages to meet the needs of Canadian iPhone aficionados. All price plans require a three-year contract.

Here is a list of the plans and respective details:

  • CAD$60/month – 150 minutes with unlimited evenings and weekends, 400MB data limit, and 75 sent text messages
  • CAD$75/month – 300 minutes with unlimited evenings and weekends, 750MB data limit, and 100 sent text messages
  • CAD$100/month – 600 minutes with unlimited evenings and weekends, 1GB data limit, and 200 sent text messages
  • CAD$115/month – 800 minutes with unlimited evenings and weekends, 2GB data limit, and 300 sent text messages
  • An additional CAD$15 monthly value pack that includes Caller ID, Who Called, Caller Ring Trax, 2,500 sent text messages and 2,500 call forwarding minutes
  • An additional CAD$20 monthly value pack including Caller ID, Who Called, Caller Ring Trax, 10,000 sent text messages and 6:00 p.m. early evening calling and 2,500 call forwarding minutes

All the plans come with unlimited incoming text messages, Visual Voicemail access and Wi-Fi access at all Rogers and Fido Hotspots.

Fido will offer nearly identical pricing (the add-ons differ ever so slightly).

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MSI Wind hits further delays

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Jun 272008
 

MSI Wind

Gizmodo has confirmed some rumours floating about in a variety of forums including those of msiwind.net that the MSI Wind U.S. release dates have been pushed back again. Earlier this month, MSI pushed the dates back from June 17th to June 27th. Now, they are pushing the date out to the week of July 7th.

As in the past, MSI is attributing the dalays to battery shortages related to a battery factory back in March.

One small shred of good news in all this is that MSI will upgrade orders to free overnight shipping when they do start to ship.

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An easier way to get started with Google Mobile

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Jun 272008
 

Google Maps for mobile

Google has launched a new mobile.google.com site to make it easier for mobile users to find all the mobile applications and tools that Google is now offering. When you go to the site, just select a phone from the list of popular devices and you’ll get to see the Google products that are available. You can click on a product to get more information and watch a short video.

The new site will let you enter your mobile number so that Google can send the link directly to your phone. You can also point your phone browser to m.google.com to get started. Among the supported phones, you will find Windows Mobile devices, the Apple iPhone, the BlackBerry, Nokia smartphones and others.

From the Google announcement, it sounds like the new site is only available in the U.S. at this time.

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RIM denies BlackBerry Bold delay rumours

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Jun 262008
 

RIM BlackBerry Bold

RIM has denied that the BlackBerry Bold is facing availability delays due to software issues with battery life and overheating. During a press event, RIM public relations manager Erik Van Drunen, called the delays rumors from bloggers.. When RIM announced the BlackBerry Bold, it provided an availability date of this summer. As such, a release in August does not constitute a delay. Neither AT&T and Rogers Wireless who have both announced that they will offer the Bold have given any specific release dates.

Van Drunen also indicated that he was not aware of any overheating problems and that carriers were already testing it on their networks.

RIM has kept the BlackBerry Bold release date hazy enough that their rebuttal is valid. But what about those earlier rumours suggesting that the Bold would launch in July or even June? Were they just rumours or real dates shared confidentially with carriers that have now been pushed back, forcing them to do a bit of damage control?

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T-Mobile USA launching MOTOROKR E8 on July 7

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Jun 262008
 

MOTOROKR E8

T-Mobile USA is set to offer the MOTOROKR E8 starting on July 7th. Giving consumers the best of both worlds, ROKR E8 is both a talented MP3 player that makes great phone calls and a mobile phone with amazing music capabilities.

The ROKR E8 comes with Motorola’s ModeShift technology which transforms the phone’s controls and number pad into music player controls at the touch of a button. Like that, unnecessary controls are easily removed when not required. When the ROKR E8 is turned off, both keypads disappear completely. Haptics technology provides tactile feedback when the virtual keys are pressed. It also features the FastScroll navigation wheel to easily navigate through thousands of songs and the patented CrystalTalk technology to provide clear calls even in noisy environments.

The ROKR E8 also comes with quad-band GMS/GPRS/EDGE connectivity, a 2-inch QVGA display, 2GB of internal memory, Bluetooth 2.0, a built-in FM radio, a 2MP camera with 8x zoom, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot.

The ROKR E8 will be available at T-Mobile retail stores and online at www.t-mobile.com starting on July 7, 2008.

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Ubuntu now ready for MIDs

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Jun 262008
 

Ubuntu

Canonical has released Ubuntu Mobile Internet Device (MID) Edition. Based on the Ubuntu Linux distribution, it has been optimized to run on devices that meet MID specifications (4 to 7-inch touch screen, physical and/or virtual keyboard, Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth, GPS, WiMAX, a minimum of 2GB of storage, 256MB or more RAM, OpenGL 3D, USB, camera, head phone jack, speakers, microphone).

As with its desktop sibling, it comes with a suite of applications and codecs. These include web browsing, email, media, camera, VoIP, instant messaging, GPS, blogging, digital TV, games, contacts, and calendaring applications and tools. Given that MIDs come with touchscreens, Ubuntu MID Edition is touch-driven and supports gestures for intuitive navigation and control.

Ubuntu MID Edition is now available for download. Canonical is also offering it to OEMs and ODMs in the hopes that they will bundle it with future devices.

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