HP to use Google Android on future netbooks?

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Mar 312009
 

Hewlett-Packard

According to The Wall Street Journal, Hewlett-Packard is studying the possibility of using the Google Android operating system in future netbooks. “We want to assess the capability Android may have for the computer and communications industries, and so we are studying it,” said Satjiv Chahil, a vice president for HP’s PC division.

Google confirmed that the Android operating system is not restricted to mobile phones and that it could scale upward to MID and netbook devices. In fact, it has already been ported to devices such as the Nokia N810 and the ASUS Eee PC 1000H.

While no manufacturer currently offers an Android-powered netbook, some expect that this will change this year. Could HP be the first?

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Samsung Omnia headed to Bell

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Mar 312009
 

Samsung Omnia

The rumours were true. Bell Mobility is getting ready to launch the Samsung Omnia. It is now listed as Coming soon on their site.

The Samsung Omnia is powered by Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional and the TouchWiz user interface. It also comes with dual-band (800/1900MHz) CDMA/EV-DO rev.A connectivity, a 3.2-inch wide QVGA (240×400) touchscreen display with haptic feedback and an accelerometer to control screen orientation, a tiny trackpad, 128MB RAM and 256MB ROM, an additional 8GB of internal memory (for the Bell model), 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, GPS, an FM radio with RDS, a 5MP camera with flash and auto-focus, and a microSDHC expansion slot. On the software side, it also includes a full on-screen QWERTY keyboard and the Opera 9.5 browser.

Bell is also throwing in a 2GB MicroSD card with pre-loaded NHL content and a free subscription to Unlimited NHL (until June 30th).

Pricing is set to start at CA$129.95 with a three-year contract.

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ZTE aiming to become top-5 handset maker in 2009

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Mar 312009
 

Many may be unfamiliar with ZTE right now but that could change by the end of the year. The Chinese handset manufacturer could land on the global top 5 list in 2009. ZTE already cracked the top 10 in the last quarter of 2007.

According to Digitimes, ZTE saw its handset shipments increase to 45 million units in 2008, a 40 percent increase over the previous year. It has struck agreements with a number of carriers, including Vodafone, Hutchison and T-Mobile, and offers devices that cover GSM, CDMA, WCDMA.

In 2008, the top five were Nokia (470 million units shipped), Samsung, LG Electronics, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson (96.6 million units shipped). Who wants to bet that the latter two are looking over their shoulders?

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New applications headed to Windows phones

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Mar 312009
 

Microsoft Windows Mobile

On the eve of CTIA 2009, Microsoft announced new applications for Windows Mobile 6.5 as well as new partners for its upcoming Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

Resulting applications will provide new and unique gaming, social networking, media, utility and personal productivity experiences for the next generation of Windows phones. Windows Marketplace for Mobile, available later this year, provides another venue for people to get the applications they want the way they want, right on their phone.

Microsoft is also focusing more on social networking. A Facebook application for Windows phones will be available for free in April. A MySpace one will follow later this summer (and will be preloaded on LG Electronics phones).

Among the new partners planning to offer software on the Windows Marketplace are Pandora, Gameloft, EA Mobile, Ilium Software Inc., Sling Media Inc., SBSH Mobile Software, and Spb Software. Many of these already offer products for devices such as the BlackBerry, iPhone and Palm.

Microsoft also announced that new designer themes are coming to Windows phones. Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi is already on board to design the first exclusive themes. People will also be able to create their own themes using a new Theme Generator that will allow users to set background images and select colours for the navigation bar, scroll bar and highlighted text. Completed themes will then be sent to their phone.

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No iPhone Skype client for Canada

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Mar 312009
 

Skype

Canadians will not get to use the just announced Skype client for the Apple iPhone. A patent issue related to Skype is preventing the release of the new client here in Canada, according to Chaim Haas, a Skype public relations representative.

It’s not clear whether the patent issue will be resolved to allow the Canadian release of the client at a future date.

For other iPhone users, the Skype client is expected to be available at the Apple App Store today.

Source: MobileSyrup.com

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Microsoft not to charge for software updates on Windows Marketplace

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Mar 312009
 

Windows Marketplace for Mobile

Shortly after announcing their plans for the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, it came to light that Microsoft would charge developers for any updates to their programs 7 days after the initial release. The move was not well received by the developer community. Even upgrades consisting of bug fixes would count as an update.

Fortunately, Microsoft has decided not to charge for version upgrades for applications already on the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. A Microsoft representative confirmed the decision and indicated that it would apply to any upgrades. Everything from minor updates to fix bugs to full version upgrades that add new features will be covered.

Developers will still need to pay an annual fee of US$99 which includes five application submissions. Additional submissions within the annual period will each cost an additional US$99.

Windows Marketplace for Mobile is expected to launch later this year with Windows Mobile 6.5.

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Skype coming to iPhone and BlackBerry

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Mar 302009
 

Skype

Skype is coming to the iPhone and BlackBerry. Skype CEO Scott Durchslag made the revelation in an interview as CTIA 2009 is set to kick off later this week.

The iPhone version of Skype will allow users to use phone numbers stored in their existing iPhone address book. This will prevent the duplication of contact information. It will also work on the iPod touch via Wi-Fi. For that matter, Apple’s terms of service prohibit VOiP applications from using 3G carrier networks so the iPhone will also work only over Wi-Fi. A number of features have also been omitted from the first release. These apparently include SMS, the set up of conference calling groups, SkypeOut credit purchases and file transfers.

Apple iPhone users can expect to see Skype appear on the Apple App Store as early as tomorrow while BlackBerry users will need to wait until May. As with other Skype clients, Skype for the iPhone and the BlackBerry will be free.

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Palm Pre to be released on April 30th?

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Mar 292009
 

Palm Pre

So far, Palm has only confirmed that the Palm Pre will be released sometime in the first half of the year. But a Twitter post by a Palm Pre beta tester suggests that the Pre will be released on April 30th. The tweet comes from Jim Van who works for Logicomm, an IT company based in Rhode Island. Jim Van is a partner at the company.

Assuming that the leak is genuine, not only does Van reveal the release date but also indicates that the Pre will be offered for US$299.99 with a two-year contract.

As others have pointed out, would you not expect that beta testers would be under NDA by both Palm and Sprint? And would they really reveal this information under the Twitter account of their company? Unfortunately, the Twitter account is now private so we cannot expect to find out more from that source. We’ll have to see if new details will surface elsewhere to corroborate this rumour.

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Verizon to begin offering 3G netbooks

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Mar 292009
 

Verizon Wireless

CNET has received confirmation from Verizon Wireless that the company will soon offer 3G-enabled netbooks. The current schedule suggests that this will happen by the end of June.

Verizon revealed few other details. Past rumours have suggested that Verizon could go with either HP and Dell netbooks. According to the latest from The Boy Genius Report sources, it would appear that Verizon has chosen to go with the HP Mini 1000.

Verizon would not be the first U.S. carrier to offer 3G-enabled netbooks. AT&T already offers both the Dell Inspiron Mini and Acer Aspire One.

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Windows Mobile 6.5 to support OTA updates?

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Mar 282009
 

Microsoft Windows Mobile

According to a WMPoweruser.com source, the upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5 could come with support for Over The Air (OTA) firmware updates. And if that’s not enough in itself, the new firmware update process will reportedly maintain your settings and applications as well.

The Android mobile operating system already supports OTA updates. Updates get pushed out and are downloaded without the user having to do anything. Once the download is complete, the user is prompted to run the update.

Windows Mobile currently supports a Windows Update mechanism (similar to that on XP or Vista) but it has never actually been used. Hopefully this new feature would get a bit more use.

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When $10 loses you a $1600 order

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Mar 272009
 

I don’t want Gadgetorama to be my personal soap box but I need to vent tonight. Bad customer service really gets to me.

It’s time to upgrade the main PC and I decided to go for a new Intel i7 Core system. I priced my specifications and headed to Premier Computer Canada (I won’t even link to them at this point) earlier today. A few answers later and I was ready to order a new PC worth more than CA$1600.

All went well until I was told that I needed to buy a removable media device (a floppy drive, a USB key or a media reader). I don’t use floppies anymore (does anyone?), I have a plethora of USB keys and did not want a media reader. It turns out that they could not order a PC for me without it (or without charging me way more).

I could have simply thrown in a USB key for next to nothing but I have an issue with being told to buy something that I don’t want. I found their explanations that this was needed to ‘complete the system order’ and for recording the diagnostic results were weak (I’m being very polite). I offered to bring in my own USB key (I even had one in my pocket), asked them to use one of their own, suggested that I did not need a copy of the logs but it was to no avail.

With all the doom and gloom about our economy, I hope that they can continue to so easily turn away customers over $10.

As for me, another store will get my order.

ASUS launching netbook with optical drive

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Mar 272009
 

According to Digitimes sources, Asustek is set to launch a netbook that will come with an optical drive. This would mark a first for the netbook category where one distinguishing characteristic has been the lack of a CD or DVD drive.

The Eee E1004DN will come with an Intel Atom N280 processor with GN40 chipset, a 120GB hard drive, as well as the optical drive. Expected in mid-April, it will be followed up with the 1008HA in May. The E1004DN should sell for between US$530 and US$590.

The line between netbooks and notebooks has been blurring for some time now. Better specifications and new features have gradually been pushing netbooks into traditional notebook territory. Some manufacturers are even looking to get around some of the rules set up for the netbook category.

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More Windows Mobile 7 screenshots?

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Mar 272009
 

A few more screenshots of the upcoming Windows Mobile 7 operating system have surfaced. These focus on some of the applications that will be included.

The first two screenshots show the Windows Mobile Marketplace and Instant Messenger. As with the first leaked screenshots, the battery and volume meters are on the bottom with what appears to be a multi-function button in between two soft keys. The third shot shows what appears to be the Zune interface. This would confirm that Microsoft is porting the Zune service to Windows Mobile. The interface is somewhat inconsistent with that of the previous two as the meters and buttons at the bottom are not visible here.

If these pictures are genuine, it would appear that Microsoft is making good progress with Windows Mobile 7.

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Apple announces WWDC 2009 dates

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Mar 262009
 

Apple

Apple has announced the dates for this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The event will take place from June 8th to 12th at the Moscone West convention center in San Francisco. The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) provides developers and IT professionals with in-depth technical information and hands-on learning about the powerful technologies in iPhone OS and Mac OS X from the Apple engineers who created them. Among the show’s highlights could be the unveiling of a new iPhone and a feature-complete version of the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system.

Like it did last year, Apple will offer three tracks for the conference. The first will focus on the iPhone (including the new iPhone 3.0 SDK), the second on the Mac and Mac OS X Leopard and the third on more general IT topics.

Registration is now open and will cost US$1295 through April 24th. After that, it increases to US$1595.

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