Gadgetorama goes camping

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Jul 292008
 

Fresh from a week enjoying the cottage life, the Gadgetorama family is off to rough it a bit more with some camping for a few days. For whatever reason, we always seem to end up in areas where Internet coverage is but a dream so news coverage will resume upon our return (or sooner if this summer’s trend of almost daily showers – two young kids in a small tent for any length of time is a recipe for madness – continues to hold true).

See you then!

Canada planning auction for 700MHz spectrum

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Jul 292008
 

Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice announced yesterday that the government is already planning its next spectrum auction. It just wrapped up an auction for spectrum in the 2GHz range, netting about CAD$4.25 billion. This next auction is likely to take place in the next year and a half and will offer up spectrum in the 700MHz range.

The 700MHz auction could prove to be even more lucrative for the government as the range can cover greater distance and penetrates obstacles like thick walls and buildings more easily. Prentice described the 700-series spectrum as “highly prized.”

A similar auction in the U.S. last year yielded over USD$19 billion for the U.S. government.

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Nokia E71 makes its U.S. debut

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Jul 292008
 

Nokia E71

Nokia announced today that the U.S. version of the Nokia E71 smartphone (successor to the Nokia E61) is now available in the U.S., including at its Nokia Flagship Stores in Chicago and New York. The E71 had been officially unveiled back in June.

The Nokia E71 features quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900MHz) and dual-band (850/1900MHz) connectivity, a 2.36-inch QVGA display up to 110MB free memory, a QWERTY thumb keyboard, integrated A-GPS (with Nokia Maps 2.0), 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, an FM radio with RDS support, a 3.2MP camera, and a microSD memory card slot. It is powered by S60 3.1 Edition, Eseries operating system.

The Nokia E71 will sell unlocked for approximately USD$500.

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Orange France and Bic launch the BIC phone

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Jul 292008
 

Bic phone

Earlier this month, Orange announced a partnership with Bic (the same people behind Bic pens and razors) to sell the Bic phone, an inexpensive mobile pay-as-you-go phone.

The Orange and BIC partnership brings an original and high-quality offer that is designed for everyone. Orange provides its technical knowledge about telephone and service quality, while simplicity and quality at the right price have been BIC values for over 50 years.

The Bic phone will be ready to go right out of the package with 60 free minutes (to be used within two months), a charged battery and SIM card already in place. The phone number will be good for at least a year. With a focus on simplicity and low cost, don’t expect to be able to do more than send and receive phone calls and SMS though.

The Bic phone will be available in citrus orange and lime green starting on August 7th for €49 including tax. It will only be sold in France in major supermarkets and convenience stores.

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Weekday fun: UNO Free Fall

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Jul 292008
 

UNO Free Fall

While it may not have been my favourite card game, I remember playing UNO quite a bit when I was growing up. Now, you have a chance to play but with a unique twist. In this variation, you need to match up similar UNO cards by colours or matching numbers to clear a chain of tiles. The longer the chain you clear, the more points you score.

The game features special tiles like reverse, scrambler and wild, tracks high scores and different difficulty levels. It is available for both Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices.

UNO Free Fall is available for USD$14.99 from our affiliate Clickgamer. A trial version is also available.

Note; Clickgamer also offers both the classic UNO card game for USD$14.99 or in a bundle with UNO Free Fall for USD$22.49 (but only for the BlackBerry).

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Reviving the rumour of a Dell smartphone

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Jul 282008
 

Dell

The rumours of a Dell smartphone may have just been revived. In an interview with GigaOm, Michael Dell, founder and Dell Inc. CEO, drops a hint that the company may be warming up to the idea. When asked about plans for mobile phones or smartphones, Dell replied, “We are certainly looking at the whole smartphone category, but I wouldn’t expect anything anytime soon.”

Adding a bit of fuel to the fire (or to the wisps of one), Dell added that he was not prepared to talk about any potential partnerships, for example with Symbian or Android, given that they are “kind of working on that.”

So is Dell about to re-enter a market that has changed quite a bit since the days of the Axim or will we see new denials in the future? Step right up and place your bets!

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Upcoming Mac laptops to drop Intel chipsets?

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Jul 282008
 

Apple

AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is set to pass on Intel’s Montevina chipset for forthcoming notebooks and desktops. Instead, Apple may use another company’s chipset or one that is has developed internally. Apple would continue to use Intel processors though.

There may be two reasons for the move. First, Apple wants to further differentiate its computers from those of its competitors. Second, the performance and power consumption of Intel’s recent mobile chipsets have not met expectations. A different chipset may be able to deliver better results for Apple.

Among the companies that could partner with Apple on its future Mac chipsets are both AMD and VIA.

AppleInsider suggests that we could find out about these next generation Macs in the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, there is another rumour that the upcoming MacBooks could also come with a glass trackpad, allowing for multi-touch and gestures (as on the iPhone and iPod touch). They would also come with a body made out of a single piece of aluminium, 16:9 displays, and the MacBook Air could get a refresh that includes an Intel Atom processor. Interestingly, this rumour also suggests a late September announcement.

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BlackBerry Bold release dates leaked?

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Jul 282008
 

RIM BlackBerry Bold

According to some information obtained by BlackBerryNews.com, the BlackBerry Bold now has two official release dates. In Canada, it will be released by Rogers Wireless on July 29th and in Germany by T-Mobile on August 4th.

BlackBerryNews.com also indicates that the Bold could be released on August 1st by Vodafone UK and on September 1st in the U.S. by AT&T. The Vodafone date is but a rumour and the AT&T date is apparently dependent on the company completing its internal training in time (or the release could be pushed out again). O2 will also release the Bold in September although no specific date is yet available.

Meanwhile, Telstra announced that the BlackBerry Bold will be offered in Australia in late September. Business customers will be able to get their hands on it for AUD$0 (presumably with an appropriate service contract).

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What is the HTC Rose?

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Jul 282008
 

The Bluetooth SIG has revealed a new HTC device codename. As is often the case with the Bluetooth SIG, the codename is pretty much all that they reveal.

All we know at this point is that the HTC Rose will be a PDA phone that will come with Bluetooth 2.0+EDR and that it could be available pretty much across the world. Aside from that, your guess is as good as mine.Read more about this story

GSM version of HTC Touch Pro gets FCC approval

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Jul 272008
 

HTC Touch Pro

A GSM version of the HTC Touch Pro has received FCC approval. Details are slim as HTC has requested confidentiality until November 30th, 2008 but documents refer to a device called the RAPH100 (Raphael is the codename for the HTC Touch Pro).

It’s not clear whether this version of the HTC Touch Pro is headed to North America or if HTC is simply seeking certification for the model headed to Europe and Asia (as it did with the HTC Touch Diamond).

Earlier, the FCC granted approval for a CDMA version of the HTC Touch Pro.

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More battery life and storage capacity planned for Eee PC later this year

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Jul 272008
 

ASUS Eee PC 900

Asustek has announced that it plans still more models for its Eee PC range in the second half of 2008. Among some new features it wants to offer are what it calls “whole-day” battery life and Internet storage (to complement the Eee PC’s on device storage). We can also expect to see software and hardware upgrades every month.

The idea of a “whole-day” battery life is certainly intriguing. Unless Asus has discovered some new battery technology, I suspect that this will simply mean larger batteries and perhaps external battery pack options. Hopefully Asustek will clear this up soon.

Asustek also indicated that all Eee PCs would continue to be manufactured by Pegatron Technology.

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Unlocked BlackBerry Bold now available for pre-order

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Jul 272008
 

BlackBerry Bold

The BlackBerry Bold is not out yet and the exact release date remains a bit of a guessing game. One rumour suggested that Rogers Wireless would formally announce the BlackBerry Bold on July 25th but that date has come and gone with no announcement. While the guessing game continues, TigerDirect is now offering it up as a pre-order.

In the U.S. TigerDirect is offering it for USD$649.99 while the price jumps to CAD$792.99 at TigerDirect Canada. If the price is not bad news enough (especially in Canada where TigerDirect may want to have another look at current exchange rates), the September ETA they list will disappoint more than one.

The BlackBerry Bold is powered by a 624MHz Intel processor and comes with a half-VGA (480×320) display, quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900)and tri-band HSDPA/UMTS (850/1900/2100) connectivity, 128MB Flash memory and an additional 1GB on-board memory, integrated GPS, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0 with full A2DP support, a 2MP camera, dual speakers, and a microSDHC expansion slot. On the software side, the BlackBerry Bold features an improved Web browser, the BlackBerry Desktop Manager with Roxio PhotoSuite 9 LE and the new BlackBerry Media Sync application which lets user sync their BlackBerry with their iTunes music collection.

Source: Mobilesyrup.com

Canadian wireless auction ends

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Jul 262008
 

While I was rediscovering what it means not to have wireless, the latest Canadian wireless spectrum auction ended on July 21st, netting the Canadian government over CAD$4.2 billion, far more than had been originally predicted. Over about eight weeks, 331 bidding rounds took place for 292 licences.

The final results have Rogers Wireless spending almost CAD$1 billion to secure 59 licenses (including most of the A block spectrum across the country). Telus Mobility also secured 59 licenses and Bell Mobility followed with 54. Among the smaller players, Globalive took top spot with 30 licenses.

With 40 percent of the available spectrum not available to the incumbents, a number of companies came away with enough to launch or significantly grow their networks. Globalive secured about 10MHz of spectrum in every province except Quebec where Quebecor secured the lion share of the spectrum. The two could partner up to offer a national network. Other bidders such as Manitoba Telecom and Bragg, adopted a stronger regional focus.

At least one industry expert expects that a new national carrier could be up and running as early as Easter 2009. Whenever new national carriers do launch, it will be interesting to see what happens to both voice and data prices. Will the new players try to undercut the incumbents or will we continue to see high prices as the new players settle for larger profit margins currently enjoyed by Rogers, Telus and Bell?

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HTC releases Touch Diamond ROM with support for 850MHz band (Updated)

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Jul 262008
 

HTC Touch Diamond

HTC has released a new ROM (dated 2008/07/23) for the HTC Touch Diamond. Among the fixes and enhancements is one of particular interest: The addition of support for the 850MHz GSM band, finally making it a quad-band GSM device. While this is good news, the Touch Diamond is still lacking support for the North American 3G bands, leaving you with an EDGE data connection if you’re using the model currently available in Europe and Asia.

Hopefully this means that a North American GSM variant of the HTC Touch Diamond is near. Its cousin, the CDMA variant of the HTC Touch Pro has already received FCC approval.

Note: The download is available through the HTC e-Club via HTC Asia. A free registration to the HTC e-Club is required.

Update: Among the other changes, the TouchFLO 3D interface has been tweaked for better performance again, including load time of the home page and tab switching speed. Smaller fixes include a fix for the issue where the screen tended to shut off five seconds after a user had woken it up during a call and a new random access bar to select weather information for various cities.

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Gadgetorama heads off on vacation

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Jul 192008
 

A tradition skipped last year returns this week and the family is off for a little vacation deep in Canadian cottage country. Our chances of having Internet access are as slim as in past years so I expect that news coverage will resume upon our return.

See you all in a week!