Ladies and gents, BGR’s back with more info about the Samsung Galaxy S III coming from its “trusted source”. This time the blog claims that it has received some more information that help paint a more complete picture of what we all can expect from Samsung’s upcoming flagship smartphone.
BGR says you can expect the Galaxy S III to run on Android 4.0 with TouchWiz and feature a 1.5GHz quad-core Samsung Exynos processor as well as a 4.8-inch “full HD” 1080p resolution display with 16:9 aspect ratio. There’s also a 2MP front camera and a 8MP rear camera. We say, expect the camera to feature with a backlit sensor as well and zero shutter lag like the one seen on the Galaxy Nexus.
BGR insists that the Galaxy S III will have a ceramic back panel and while we’re not going to pretend to be experts in the matter, we really can’t see how it would be practical to use something so inherently brittle and expensive to mass produce on a mobile phone. But like we said, we’re not materials or manufacturing experts, Samsung might have sussed out all the issues to be able to make a device that uses ceramics as a construction material. In any case, a phone made out of ceramics would be cool, in more ways than one – if you know what we’re talking about.
In terms of launch date, we’re pegging for an announcement something in March or April and market availability in the June-July window. Also an almost simultaneous global launch is very possible.
It's not what it looks like. We know, we know: it would seem that Engadget traveled all the way to Mobile World Congress only to get hands-on with a desktop phone, but fortunately for our pride, this device is quite the opposite. Though that earpiece would suggest otherwise, Invoxia's AudiOffice is actually just a speaker dock for your iPhone or iPad, meant to boost the audio quality when you're making VoIP or even regular cell phone calls. (You can also connect a non-iOS device using the built-in Bluetooth radio.) In particular, the company hopes the dock will appeal to small businesses forgoing land lines, though we could also see someone plugging a laptop into the USB port or adding a Bluetooth keyboard -- essentially, making the iPad the centerpiece of a more stationary setup. But is all that worth $299? Check out our hands-on photos and brief demo video and you be the judge.
Let's start with aesthetics. The AudiOffice looks awfully similar to the NVX 610 desktop VoIP phone we saw last fall, which is to say it comes in one color (white) with a quirky, colored piece of rubber cradling the receiver. All told, it's a clean, striking and aggressively minimal design. Some people are going to stop reading right here, if they even got past the lead image.
There's not much to the dock in terms of openings and sockets, but you will find one USB 2.0 port 'round back, which you can use to make this your PC speaker -- a convenient setup if you happen to make more VoIP calls from your desktop than your mobile. Otherwise, though, we imagine you'd spend your three hundred dollars on speakers that weren't so iDevice-centric and didn't eat up so much space. Heck, you might not even spend three hundred dollars at all.
On the front, you'll notice a self-explanatory volume dial, which doubles as a button: push it to turn on the speakerphone. If your phone's connected to the dock, you can also answer calls by pressing that button, which will automatically put your friends on speaker. (In a purely aesthetic flourish, that button glows blue when the phone is ringing.) Want to keep the call discreet? You can also answer by picking up the receiver (duh) or lifting your iPhone out of its cradle (double duh).
Sadly, there was only so much we could do to test the audio quality on the middle of the show floor, but suffice to say we were able to hear a caller on speakerphone, even above the din of the convention hall.
All in all, this seems to be one pretty, smartly designed and decidedly pricey speaker dock. Want to learn a little more? We're re-posting the company's own promo video, which gives a fuller overview than our demo of the calling aspect.
ZTE's newly announced PF200 was also on hand at MWC 2012, though, unfortunately this handset wouldn't boot up. Powered by a Qualcomm 1.2Ghz dual-core processor, running Android 4.0, with a 4.3-inch qHD display, 8 megapixel af camera, WiFi, DLNA, and even NFC. The PF200 like the N910 if obviously showing its inexpensive price point through the size and quality of the housing and the choices in construction materials. While it isn't outrageously bulky, it too could do with a little slimming down, and again the back and its diamond patterned plastic feels terrible to hold. Catch a glimpse of its lack of glory in the gallery just below.
Are you salivating after seeing HTC's One X? We don't blame you, it's a stunning piece of hardware with a set of rather lust-worthy specs. But, how does the AT&T version stack up to its international cousin? We're happy to say, quite well. Yes, the quad-core Tegra 3 was given the boot in favor of a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 and an LTE radio was crammed inside, but otherwise this is pretty much the same device we saw on the floor in Barcelona. The only piece of carrier branding is an AT&T logo above the gorgeous 4.7-inch 720p display. Thankfully, the design was left largely unmolested. At least at this early stage it's also blissfully free of bloatware and carrier apps, but we'd expect that to change before launch. Sadly, none of the demo units on hand at the New York showroom had SIMs in them, so we couldn't test LTE reception, and the devices weren't logged into the Market so we couldn't pull down benchmarks or a taxing 3D game. That being said, Sense 4.0 and ICS were plenty responsive and pages rendered very quickly -- even without those two extra cores. Check out the gallery below and the video after the break for more impressions.
ZTE's other handset launch of note at MWC this year was the PF112 (pictured at right next to SGS 2.) First take away here was the 4.5-inch 1028 x 720 HD display which was really bright and clear -- and again we were a little shocked by the dichotomy in build quality of the sets we're seeing from ZTE. Quad-band GSM radios, triple-band HSPA+ were on hand as well as an 8 megapixel rear-facing cam, all the wireless connectivity one could ask for and even an FM radio thrown in for good measure. Housing quality is fine, bezel size about on par with its neighbor in the pic above and fit and finish also looking sharp. Follow the break for some more pictures of this Android 4.0 device.
This is it. Here's an exclusive first look at some sample shots taken with Nokia's freshly minted 808 PureView imaging powerhouse -- and wow, just wow! The collection contains photos taken at different resolutions in various conditions that show exactly what the 41-megapixel camera is capable of. Feast your eyes in our gallery below -- we'll have a ZIP file with the original pictures for you to download shortly. Also, stay tuned for our upcoming interview with Damian Dinning, program manager for imaging at Nokia.
Orange, the only cellular network that's also one of your five-a-day has announced that it'll be releasing Sony's Xperia U, HTC One X and One S to smartphone demanding Britons in the second quarter of the year. Depending on your point of view, it's either fantastic or terrible that the network bagged the white edition of Sony's handset as an exclusive, but it's going to tempt some of you to the citrus-side of the force. There's no word on pricing, but we'd expect them to cost something we've heard called "money." While you wait for them to arrive, why not decide on which handset you'd rather purchase by reading our splendid hands-ons with each of the handsets? Xperia U / One X / One S.
We've been waiting for Lumigon to get around to launching its Android opus for a while now. Fortunately, MWC is precisely the right kind of place for a new company to catch the eye of the mobile press. With Ice Cream Sandwich and Bang and Olufsen involvement, we had to take a look at the Lumigon T2 for ourselves. First impressions are after the break, with a video run-through of the stainless-steel lined phone thrown in for good measure.
Lumigon's really focused the design on its latest handset. Android 4.0 was a pleasant surprise, but it was all about the build quality, which was satisfyingly solid, with stainless steel sides and a soft-touch plastic finish on the back. Lumigon's CEO Lars Gravesen told us that this is likely to get a harder coating ahead of the retail launch but we liked the existing tactile finish -- it was a pleasure to hold. However, the weight of the phone, despite the handy 3.8-inch Gorilla Glass-coated screen size, remains quite substantial. Those that bemoan the lightweight feel of plastic-based will likely relish the heft on the Denmark-based device, but it's a noticeable weight in your hand. There's also an extra hardware button above the screen that's customizable to your favorite functions and apps, although we'd need to try this out in real-life before we see whether it'll really shake up our typical phone use.
The Lumigon T2 isn't playing the processor power game, but runs on a respectable single-core Snapdragon S2, clocked at 1.4GHz, with battery life purported to be around a day. In use, the phone is suitably swift, although there are a few software hiccups left to be worked out -- its two-stage camera button but it seemed unwilling to work on our demo device. The camera itself has an auto-focus 8-megapixel sensor, capable of 1080p video capture, while the UI is a restyled version of stock ICS -- there's nothing earth-shattering here. Audio is where Bang and Olufsen's ICEPower came in and gave the T2 plenty of oomph from its loud speaker, with a respectable amount of bass -- for a smartphone. The phone will also arrive boxed with in-ear headphones to maximize that Bang and Olufsen know-how.
We were also particularly taken with the remote app, which made use of the IR blaster at the top of the device, capable of "learning" your own remote's functions and replacing them. You can also assign accelerometer-based gestures to scroll between titles -- as we saw demonstrated with Apple TV at today's event. If the combination of Gorilla Glass, Bang and Olufsen and stainless steel gets your pulse racing, you shouldn't have to wait long -- the T2 is set to launch before the end of this half of 2012, priced at around 500 euros.
ZTE's LTE FDD, CDMA, EVDO-enabled N910 -- we've also seen it referred to as the N91 -- also popped up at Mobile World Congress, so we gave it a quick once over. The spec sheet isn't bursting with this set but it does pack an 800 x 480 display, 5 megapixel autofocus camera, a 1080p capable front-facing lens, WiFi, Bluetooth, and of course its running Android 4. The N910 is a pretty thick handset as its posterior is a rounded affair, though, it feels hollow, and is impossibly light. Unfortunately for us -- and you -- it refused to power on during our brief visit, even after 10 minutes or so of charging. We will swing back around and see if we can't capture a bit of video, but until then the following gallery will have to do.
Well, Panasonic wasn't lying. Turns out, the company's Eluga smartphone is, as promised, quite elegantly designed. The stunning handset, which made its debut at this year's Mobile World Congress, isn't racing towards the finish line with Google's latest OS or even top shelf internals. Rather, this Android device places a heavy emphasis on style, durability and display tech much to the delight of our overloaded mobile-senses. We spent some quality time with device at the company's booth, so click on past the break to get the rundown on our initial impressions.
There's no denying it: the Eluga is built to impress. From the deep blacks on its 4.3-inch qHD 960 x 540 OLED display to the sophisticated curve of the unit's smooth, matte back, this is one phone you'll want to brandish in public. Weighing only 3.6 ounces (or 103 grams), its 7.8mm thickness registers lightly in the hand and would make for an almost perfect grip were it not for the front's sharp edges. And keeping in step with the latest mobile trends, Panasonic's also imbued its beauty with a combo of water- and dust-proofing, in addition to NFC.
The front face is a suitably subdued affair, with an inobtrusive Panasonic logo sitting just above the capacitive buttons for menu, home and back at the base. As an added bit of visual drama, three tiny LEDs light up beneath these keys in accordance with the ambient light sensor. The placement of the earpiece is a curious choice, located just off to the upper left of the screen, as opposed to its typical central position. Due to the water-resistant nature of the build, ports for micro-USB and microSIM slot access lie covered up top and surround the 3.5mm headphone jack. While, smallish hard keys for power and volume are nestled on the unit's right side and stick out just enough out the from the tapered casing to be easily depressed.
Unsurprisingly, viewing angles are remarkably excellent and the colors pop with just the right amount of contrast and brightness. As we mentioned earlier, Panasonic's solidly succeeded in regard to the phone's aesthetic appeal, but where its performance -- well, it's borders on disappointing. Powered by a 1GHz dual-core OMAP 4430, and running a heavily skinned version of Android 2.3.5, navigation across the five homescreens chugs when you'd expect it to zip. Things were much improved when loading applications and even the app drawer, itself, but we'd have liked to see that performance boost evident throughout. In terms of customization, we noted that the four dock icons can be swapped out using a long press.
Without access to the phone's innards, users are left to make the most of an integrated and underwhelming 1,150mAh battery, as well as 8GB of internal storage. So, if you intend to make heavy use of the device or that 8 megapixel AF rear shooter, you'll need to keep a close eye on your consumption habits. And speaking of the camera function, we didn't have much time to fully test it out, but from what we gleaned, it appears photos taken with the module appear pleasantly crisp and clear.
Panasonic may already have a bigger, ICS-equipped handset in the making -- the Eluga Power -- but that's no reason to overlook this gem of a handset. And with Android 4.0 set to hit the phone sometime this summer, users who opt-in for this purchase won't have to worry about feeling left out. Crafted with an acute focus on industrial design, this is one smartphone that should have Sony's NXT series staying up at night.
ZTE's oddly named -- like most of its sets, honestly -- Mimosa X doesn't bring to mind bubbly champagne breakfast drinks, but it does have a glossy display and Android 4. Packing niceties such as a Tegra2 1.2Ghz processor, 4.3 qHD 960 x 540 display, 8-megapixel camera with 1080p vid recording capability, and HD voice it seems a pretty well aligned device as far as specs go. We immediately noticed that the housing quality is a little weak -- specifically the handset's textured rear -- though, we're hopeful that will be reflected in its sticker price. Speaking of pricing, nothing was mentioned, though we can look to this to land sometime in Q2.
ZTE showed up to Barcelona and Mobile World Congress with briefcases overflowing with handsets, we stopped to have a peek at its newest which features a quad-core CPU: the Era. Running the Tegra 3 quad-core processor at 1.3Ghz with an Icera i450 HSPA+ modem, 4.3-inch qHD display, an 8-megapixel camera that'll shoot 1080p video and all that stuffed into a 7.8mm-thin metallic housing. We'd already gotten our mitts on a couple other ZTE sets by the time we ran into the Era, and as far as build quality goes it's head and shoulders above the others. The feel in hand is sort of reminiscent of the Nexus One: outstanding balance and weight. The display quality is bright and crisp and in the short demo we saw, the 3D effects on the home screen are absolutely fluid. We're looking forward to this set, or at least a chance for a little more time to get acquainted.
Right after ASUS wrapped its Mobile World Congress 2012 press conference, the hundreds of journalists present all honed in on the Padfone -- that 4.3-inch handset whose various accessories can turn it into a 10-inch tablet with a full QWERTY keyboard dock. After the crowds thinned, though, we spotted a red tablet sitting by itself in the corner. That would be the Transformer Pad 300, ASUS' new low-end slate.
On paper, at least, it's a slightly emasculated Prime, with a 10-inch IPS (but not Super IPS+) display and 16GB of storage, not 32GB or 64GB. Otherwise, the key specs remain the same: a quad-core Tegra 3 chip, 1GB of RAM, Android 4.0, 1280 x 800 resolution and dual 8MP / 2MP cameras. (Some models will also have an LTE radio, but that's something we'll have to revisit in a full review.) In any case, we wondered if the 300 would be identical to the Prime in looks as well (those fancy press shots don't always tell an accurate story).
Though it does resemble the other tablets in ASUS' lineup, the company has clearly tinkered with the design as it presumably positions this thing as more of a lower-end device. Next to the new 8.5mm-thick Infinity Series (essentially, the TF700T with an LTE radio and optional Snapdragon S4 chip), the 9.9mm 300 feels thick and weighty -- to the extent that any of ASUS' Prime tablets are really chunky. And though it has a spun finish, the texture of the plastic back is rougher than on the Infinity or the original Prime; the ridging just isn't as fine. Inside that slightly bigger frame is a battery that promises 10 hours of runtime -- just like the others. Just don't expect longer battery life in exchange for a less svelte design.
As for the display, we're undecided as to whether you'll notice the step down to IPS from Super IPS+ (that's a 600-nit panel, for those of you not up on your marketing jargon). Indoors, at least, we were still able to view the screen at a wide assortment of angles. Obviously, though, if you buy into the Transformer lineup, you're presumably doing so with the hopes of buying that signature keyboard dock too. Use that and you'll enjoy the tablet head-on without having to place it flat on the table.
In that sense, the 300's viewing angles are promising simply by virtue of its ergonomic design. In any case, though, that won't be a sufficient answer for those of you who plan to use this outside. If we can get one in to review, we'll take that and our original Transformer Prime outdoors and see which display is easier to make out.
So will this pared-down Prime come with a lower price tag? We'll have to wait on country-specific pricing and availability details, but tentatively, we'd say we'd be willing to sacrifice a little thinness if the performance and battery life remain equal and the display remains stunning enough. That's a lot of ifs, of course -- uncertainties we hope to revisit in a full review.
Nokia's stand at Mobile World Congress is more of a city than a dingy old booth -- it's absolutely massive, and full of Lumias and PureViews and Ashas (oh my!). As we continue to dissect the entire thing, our adventure has taken us to the Lumia 610. This particular handset is a bit of an anomaly in the mobile world: it's getting a lot of attention not because it's an amazingly powerful and highly specced device, but rather because it's considered a low-ender. It's not too often that this kind of thing happens, considering we often treat budget phones as non-influential, but we envision a device like the Lumia 610 having a dramatic impact on the scope of Windows Phone in global market share and public exposure.
Why could such a simple smartphone make waves at a show crowded with star-studded beauties like Nokia's own 808 PureView or the HTC One X? Because it's among the first to feature Microsoft's latest Windows Phone build. Contrary to our expectations coming into the show, it's not being referred to as Tango -- something that perplexed us during our liveblog of Nokia's event this morning -- but rather a minor refresh that will reach out to every Windows Phone. The update, still considered part of Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), opens the door for devices running on 256MB of RAM and offers a few other goodies, such as allowing ringtones, videos, audio files and multiple JPEGs on one MMS. The update will also bring compatibility to Chinese mobile operators and plenty more regional availability. That's a major reason why the Lumia 610 is getting so much attention -- it may be the first Windows Phone experience for several regions that don't already have the OS.
It may be obvious that the specs are nothing to write home about. Quite opposite, in fact. But that's not what Nokia's gunning for with the 610, is it? Nay, this one is ever so humble, with its 800MHz Snapdragon S1 CPU, 5MP rear AF camera with LED flash, 3.7-inch WVGA TFT display, 1,300mAh battery and quad-band GSM / EDGE / WCDMA. The build is definitely inexpensive plastic, with chrome edges and a soft-touch back. In other words, keep a firm grip on it at all times. All in all, it feels rather comfortable to hold, though. Its overall performance is precisely on par with the intended price range here.
We've finally managed to get some time with Fujitsu's incoming quad-core handset and it's pretty close to completion. The quad-core phone's approaching its very final model, with just a bit of finishing and tightening of what we're seeing here at MWC 2012. It's still water-friendly, wielding a Tegra 3 chip and brandishing a 13.1-megapixel camera. So what are you waiting for? Our impressions and video are right after the break.
The hardware is very light -- almost uneasily so. The 4.6-inch display that dominates the phone is bright and crisp and Fujitsu has finally cemented more of the specifications; we've been told it's a full HD (1080p) display, although the spokesperson was unable to confirm the screen technology, we suspect it's a high resolution LCD display. Fujitsu's NX UI is a very lightly skinned version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich, with some addition features courtesy of the "human-centric engine."
In a bid to differentiate itself from legions of other smartphone manufacturers, it adds Fujitsu's own type of voice canceling processing, alongside dual mics, while a "slow voice" mode adds spacing in the gaps between speech. Unfortunately, we weren't able to try this functionality out -- the phone wasn't connected to networks here in Barcelona. Another feature that looks to be aimed squarely at the hearts of the older smartphone shopper is frequency adaptation. This adjusts the output of the speaker so that it's easier to hear when audible hearing frequencies start to thin out. There's also some Sense-like functionality also included here; the phone should turn off its screen when it realizes it's not in your hand. The fingerprint sensor found on the device has been given some extra skills too, and can be used to "lock down" corporate apps and other compatible stock apps.
Fujitsu's own Milbeaut image processor adds some (post-processing) extras to the 13.1-megapixel camera, including fish-eye lens, infinity burst mode and even glare removal when the camera senses a whiteboard (which should eliminate those issues with your corporate smartphone-based espionage). The camera UI generally retains that ICS stock sensibility, meaning that it's simple and uncluttered. There's still some things that Fujitsu is attempting to ready for its new flagship, including a possible Fujitsu-powered cloud storage provision and a fast-charging dock; a real possibility given the contacts for charging on the waterproof device. It's still no completely finalized on the software end; we found the keyboard was particularly sticky and caused a lot of problems when we attempted to type anything out.
The phone is still being pitched to phone carriers across China, Europe and the US, and hardware changes could occur depending on carrier interest. At the moment, the demo model included an 8GB microSD card, but we were told that details like this could certainly change before it arrives this summer in Japan. The phone's being readied for a Q4 release in its other target markets -- hopefully with a name in tow.
There you have it, at MWC 2012, Samsung not only is showing their Tab 2, 7 and 10.1 models, but also a 10.1inch version of their Galaxy Note. It's worth noting that as the details available are saying, there is not much difference between the Tab 2 and Note aside from the stylus (or S-Pen). One can't help wonder what Samsung is thinking; The Note should have been a tablet in the first place, and the Tab 2 should have just included the stylus. 3 devices potentially reduced to 1.
Not many other details are available yet about this tablet but as soon as we know, you will too. What do you think of a 10.1inch Galaxy Note? Yea Or Nay?
Alright now if the high- and middle-end devices from HTC aren’t up to your taste because you only use your phone to do some simple tasks, here’s the HTC One V that honestly, is quite impressive too. Packed with all the latest stuffs from HTC including Android ICS, the One V is designed with an aluminum unibody with Gorilla Glass at the front covering the 3.7” WVGA LCD display. The exact processor has not been mentioned by the company, but it is a 1GHz single-core one with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. As with its other two brothers – the One X and One S – the One V will come with extra 25GB of storage on DropBox, free for two years.
Packed with Sense 4.0, HTC One V will also be equipped with HTC’s ImageChip on its 5MP camera with a f/2.0 lens and the ability to capture still images while recording 720p videos. There’ll be no front camera but hey, that means it’ll be even more affordable. HTC doesn’t have a working model of the One V at the moment but check out Engadget to see a video of the dummy set.
The HTC One S may be touted as a mid-range phone but don’t look down on what it has to offer. Powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor with 1GB of DDR2 RAM, the One S packs a stunning qHD Super AMOLED 4.3” display and surrounding that would be a scratch-resistant and durable aluminum backing. The body is made using plasma-heated micro arc oxidation process which gives the phone a unique smooth ceramic finish.
On the inside, One S will run on the latest version of Android (ICS) along with the company’s latest version of its Sense UI – v4.0 that boasts a host of new features as unveiled at the keynote. The back will be equipped with the same camera found on the One X – 8MP with HTC’s very own ImageChip and a f/2.0 autofocus lens; you’ll also be able to capture still images while recording 1080p videos.
Seriously, if you’re not going to do heavy stuffs on the phone that requires quad-core, the One S looks extremely good. Other mentioned stuffs include a thin design of only 7.9mm, extra 25GB of storage on DropBox which will be free for two years, and Beats audio.
Here’s the new flagship handset for HTC unveiled at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2012 – the HTC One X codenamed Endeavour. Packing all the latest technology, HTC One X is a unibody device that uses white polycarbonate and Gorilla Glass to protect its large 4.7” 1280 x 720 non-pentile Super LCD 2 display. Underneath all that is the NVIDIA Tegra 3 4-PLUS-1 quad-core processor (for the global edition, or a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core for the LTE version), 1GB DDR2 RAM and 32GB of built-in storage and as though that’s not enough, as mentioned before, HTC is also throwing in 25GB of extra storage on DropBox which will be free for 2 years.
At the back, HTC One X is equipped with an 8MP camera featuring the brand new f/2.0 lens that makes capturing images in low light conditions possible. As mentioned in the keynote, you’ll also be able to capture images while recording continuous focus 1080p video with the phone. I know the flash are usually never mentioned in a phone, but the HTC One X boasts a unique LED flash which supports for 5 levels of automatic brightness control – I hope this means that you won’t be capturing washed out pictures with flash lights that usually threatens to make you blind. The front will be equipped with a 1.3MP camera for all your 720p HD needs.
NVIDIA Delivers Quad-Core Performance in New HTC One X
SINGAPORE — February 27, 2012 — NVIDIA today announced that its NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 mobile processor, the world’s only 4-PLUS-1™ quad-core processor, is powering the new HTC One™ X unveiled at Mobile World Congress. The smartphone represents the first collaboration between the two companies.
The NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor features a unique 4-PLUS-1 quad-core architecture that delivers outstanding performance and exceptional battery life. It does this by progressively powering on each of its four main CPU cores as they’re needed for increasingly more demanding tasks, and relying on its fifth battery saver core for less demanding tasks and active standby mode. Tegra 3’s 12-core GPU enables consumers to enjoy console-quality gaming, as well as 1080p HD video capabilities unlike anything seen before on a smartphone.
“The HTC One X with Tegra 3 provides an experience that consumers will absolutely love,” said Kouji Kodera, Chief Product Officer at HTC. “We knew our next super phone had to be fantastic. That’s why we chose to work with NVIDIA.”
“HTC has quickly become one of the world’s most innovative makers of mobile devices,” said Michael Rayfield, General Manager of the Mobile business at NVIDIA. “The HTC One X exemplifies what we've come to expect from one of the world's top phone makers.”
At the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Sony has finally showcased the 2 new phones that will round out the stable of the first Sony smartphones. Along with the already seen Xperia S (which a review will be coming up on the main page sometime this week), Sony has announced the arrival of the Xperia U and the Xperia P.
Firstly the Xperia P: The phone features a 4inch WhiteMagic display which is Sony's new display technology that is touted to be the brightest and smartest display on the market today. The WhiteMagic's auto brightness is also refined to conserve as much battery as possible while providing stellar viewing even outdoors. The Xperia P will feature a brushed aluminum, unibody construction as well as an 8MP camera with the 1 second from standby to capture we have seen on the Xperia S. Under the hood, you'll find a 1GHz dual-core processor, NFC functionality and if you have the Xperia Smart Dock, you'll be able to connect your phone to a keyboard, mouse and TV for a gimped desktop experience.
Next, the Xperia U: One of the most interesting developments in the smartphone market so far is not the Xperia U's 1GHz dual-core processor, neither is it the 3.5inch Reality display or 5MP camera, or is it even the removable and replaceable bottom caps on the phone. The Xperia U's bottom transparent band has the colour changing functionality that the Xperia S lacked and more. Not only is it able to change colour with your themes, its also able to detect what is the main color of the media being played and will change accordingly. It's refreshing to see that in a market where screen size/clarity/brightness, cores, thickness and megapixels are king, Sony is also making headway on being pretty.
Both the Xperia U and P will be available come middle of Q2 2012. At launch the phones will have Android 2.3 installed but will be upgradable later that quarter. What do you think about the new Xperia U and P? Check out all the promo videos and full tech specs
While we’re tuning in live to the Sony press conference at Mobile World Congress, UK operator Three has snuck out a promotional video for the yet to be launched Xperia U.
The Xperia U follows the same design language as the Xperia S but brings with it a personality more suited to the young and style conscious with interchangeable colour caps at the bottom edge.
Another cool feature of the Xperia U is the transparent belt that now features a multi-colour LED array. When viewing pictures in the gallery app, the transparent belt changes colour to match with the dominant colour on the picture that you’re viewing. That’s a cool feature that we’re pretty sure many of you would like.
In terms of hardware, the Xperia U brings a 3.5-inch 854×640 pixel Reality Display with Mobile Bravia Engine, a 1Ghz dual-core processor and a 5MP rear camera with Fast Capture and 720p video recording.
Specifications plus more promotional videos of the Xperia U from Sony right after the jump.
Xperia U Specifications
3.5-inch 854×480 pixel Reality Display powered by Mobile BRAVIA Engine
1 GHz dual-core processor with 512MB RAM
5MP camera with fast capture and HD recording
Size: 112x54x12 mm
Weight: 110 grams
xLoud and 3D surround sound audio technology
Launches on Android platform 2.3 (Gingerbread)
Will be upgraded to Android platform 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) during Q2 2012
Xperia U Photos
Xperia U Videos
Mobile World Congress will probably be Android’s main event of the year. All manufacturers are showing off their best products, and we are seeing the smaller guys rising out of the ground. A good example is Viewsonic, which is said to release some good low-to-mid tier devices, including an Android 4.0 tablet and 3 phones.
The tablet is rumored to be called the Viewsonic ViewPad G70. Specs include a dual-core processor, a 7-inch (1024x600p) display, 1 GB of RAM, 4 GB of internal storage and two cameras (front being a 2 MP shooter). Ports will include a microSD card, HDMI, micro USB and mini USB.
According to the rumors, all of this will amount to a good $350 price tag, for the 3G version. It is not a bad price, but with devices like the ASUS MeMo 370T coming at $250 with a Tegra 3 processor, it is hard to compete. (I have a feeling we will be saying this for a while).
On the smartphone side, Viewsonic is targetting a completely different market. These devices are considered low-end, but the lure is that they pack dual-SIM capabilities. This means that the device can work with two GSM networks simultaneously.
Many of you may find no use in such a feature, but it is actually something that can help many travelers. As a San Diego, CA resident, I know a handful of people that come and go to/from Mexico. They usually own two devices, one for each side of the border, and have a dual-SIM device may simplify their lifestyles.
This device has a 3.5-inch IPS 640 x 960 display, a 1 GHz processor, a 5 MP rear-facing camera and a VGA front-facing camera. It is not the best phone around, but it is certainly the best out of Viewsonic’s selection.
This one has a 3.5-inch display, as well, but the definition is lower (320 x 480). It is also weak on other specifications, packing a 650 MHz processor and a 5 MP camera.
There are not many details about this one, aside from the fact that it has a 5-inch 480x800p display. We assume that it will be as good as the 4S, though, as it is aimed at business users. It would be a good purchase for someone that likes larger screens and dual-SIM capabilities.
As mentioned, none of these are top-notch. Such is the case for most dual-SIM devices, though. And the general consumer doesn’t always need a powerhouse. They are not as bad-looking as we would expect, also. So if you are in the market for one of these, stay tuned for more details come MWC.
Samsung has just unveiled its first device for this year’s MWC. The Samsung Galaxy Beam has a 5.0-inch screen and a built-in 15 lumens pico projector that’s capable of projecting HD images and videos up to 50-inches diagonally.
However, a smartphone with built-in projector is not a new concept for Samsung. Back in 2010, Samsung launched the Galaxy Beam GT-I8520. The original Galaxy Beam ran on Android 2.1 and featured a 720MHz TI OMAP 3440 processor with 384MB RAM. There’s also 3.7 inch Super AMOLED screen, 16GB of on board memory, Micro SD expansion up to 32GB and an 8MP rear camera. Like the new Galaxy Beam, the GT-I8520 was able to project images and videos up to 50-inches diagonally as well.
MWC 2012 starts tomorrow but HTC’s anticipated One X has its specs & official photos revealed at FullGSM. According to the spec sheet, the HTC One X runs on Nvidia’s 1.5GHz Super 4-PLUS-1 Tegra 3 Quad core processor, 1GB of RAM with 32GB of internal storage. On top of that, they are bundling 25GB of Dropbox storage for 2 years.
In terms of display, the HTC One X comes with a 4.7″ Super LCD2 with 720p resolution and it is toughen with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass. Powering the device is a 1,800mAh built-in battery and it also comes with NFC. There’s no mention of OS version but it is likely to be Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with its HTC Sense 4.0 UI. The 4.7″ device weighs a rather modest 130g and has a thickness of 9.29mm.
The 8MP camera that’s capable of shooting 1080p HD videos is something worth pointing out. It has a f/2.0 aperture with BSI sensor for optimal shots in low light condition and a wide angle 28mm lens. New on the One X is what they call Dual Shutter Camera Module which allows you to record HD video and take pictures simultaneously. Recording a video while taking still shots isn’t exactly new as it can be done on a Galaxy Nexus. Over at the front, there’s a 1.3MP camera.
And for another round of leaks, we have a few devices coming from Samsung. This image comes from BestBoyz, who have gotten a glimpse of a few devices ahead of Monday’s Samsung announcement. We have three devices, which include a tablet (GT-P5100) and two smartphones.
The Galaxy Tab looks much like the 10.1N, which was designed after Sammy lost a patent lawsuit against Apple. It has a bezel that extends to the front of the tablet, and speaker grills on each side. We do not yet know the specs, but it looks like this tablet will have Android 4.0 and a 10.1-inch display. Odds are that it will have a dual-core processor, but Samsung may very well surprise us with some quad-core goodness.
If we move on to the smartphones, we will notice that they are not exactly the best looking, and odds are that the specs are parallel to the aesthetics. But there is one little detail that calls our attention. It seems like one of the smartphones has a projector built-in (unless it is a very bad-looking camera or flashlight). This might be great for those that would like to watch movies or play games on the go.
BGR is reporting that the Samsung Galaxy S III, which sadly won’t be unveiled at MWC, might sport a 4.8" screen. They’ve also shown a mock-up of the device, with an edge-to-edge screen similar to the Galaxy B rumors from yesterday.
What I find interesting from the mock-up, though, is the rather thin bezel on the top and lower portion of the device. If the final device were to be similar, the phone might actually be smaller than the Galaxy Nexus. This is some rough work I did quickly on Photoshop to check, and the Galaxy S III seems to me to be nearly 10% shorter in height. Of course, my work is by no certain measure 100% accurate, and BGR’s mock up feels exaggerated, but who knows?
Other rumors include a much desired (at least for me) move away from a plastic body, although the choice of ceramic is certainly unorthodox. Additionally, BGR says that the launch would occur simultaneously in 50 markets or cities around the globe.
Synaptics, Atmel,N-trig, Raydium, Cypress and Focaltech -- big names in the field of touch-based devices -- have all agreed get on board with NVIDIA's DirectTouch platform. The tech offloads some of the work needed to track and process finger input from the controller to the Tegra 3, improving response and battery life. We were first introduced to the architecture at CES, but wasn't clear that others would embrace it. With two of the biggest makers of touchscreen controllers, Synaptics and Atmel, throwing their weight behind the project, though, things are looking up for NVIDIA-powered tablets. N-trig is even leveraging the processing power to improve the response of capacitive styli by combining DirectTouch with DuoSense (the tech behind the HTC Flyer).
A few months ago we talked about Verizon getting an LTE version of the Xperia Play, well this go around points to a whole new device that might fit those shoes. With over 200 games optimized for play on the original device from Sony, they've proven their loyalty to the gaming crowd. Games like Madden '12 and EA Sports FIFA '12 are among the leading titles optimized for the original model.
Looking quite a bit different than the original model, this mockup seems to abandon the original curves. On the rumor spec list is a 1.5ghz dual-core SnapDragon S4 CPU with a 4.3" Hi-Def display. Of course it will be Playstation certified as well.
We're a little concerned by the capacitive buttons, as they may be indicative of Gingerbread running on the device. However, if you had the original model this should be a major step-up. Improvements like a dual core processor should make a world of difference in the gaming experience.
With Mobile World Congress gearing up in only 2 days we can look forward to all sorts of new goodies and high-tech announcements from some of the worlds largest tech companies. NVIDIA is going to announce some cool new stuff regarding it's latest Icera 410 LTE modem. NVIDIA acquired Icera back in mid-2011 and this would appear to be the start of bigger things regarding LTE networks across the world.
Our friends over at BGR got their hands on some interesting art of the supposed next, super high-end Galaxy device from Samsung Mobile. Word is this beauty will feature a 4.8", possibly Super Amoled Plus HD display. Samsung is known for their awesomely big, bright & gorgeous screens and this one should not disappoint. We're still not sure when this will be announced, they made us aware it wouldn't be next week at Mobile World Congress so maybe it'll be May before we see it.
Oddly enough, BGR is reporting the entire back of the device will be made of ceramic. I'm not sure what to think of this latest rumor, but it sure is an interesting one. Back to normality, I am sure it will include the latest and greatest quad core CPU with maybe 2GB of RAM.
With less than 24 hours to go before the HTC one X and HTC One S are announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, an Italian retailer has released images, specs and pricing for the two Android 4.0 devices. Since we’ve seen so many leaks over the past few months, there are really no surprises, but we do believe that the retailer’s web guy did a poor job of posting the correct specs for the two phones.
The main mistakes we can spot is that both devices are listed with 4.7-inch displays along with 1GHz clock speeds for the dual-core processor in the Ville and quad-core processor in the Endeavor. We’ve made our fair share of mistakes over the years, so we’re willing to let this one slide. Based on what we know, the HTC Ville will feature a 4.3-inch display and both the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor in the Endeavor (One X) and the Qualcomm S4 processor in the Ville (One S) are expected to be clocked at 1.5 GHz.
The price of the HTC One X and HTC One S are listed at €699 and €599. A direct conversion to US dollars gives us a $940 price tag for the HTC One X and a $805 price tag for the HTC One S, but lets not forget that Italy has a 21% VAT already included in the price. Removing VAT, we’re left with slightly more reasonable price tags of $780 and $672 for the two devices.
How much are you willing to pay for one of HTC’s new Android 4.0 handsets?
HTC One S (Ville) specifications
- Android 4.0
- Dual-core 1GHz processor
- Quad band GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA 21 Mbps and HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
- 4.7″ LCD 540 × 960 pixels, touch screen display
- 16GB internal storage, microSD (max 32GB)
- 8 megapixel main camera with LED flash, BSI sensor (for shooting in low light). HD video recording. VGA front-facing camera
- Bluetooth 3.0
- microUSB with MHL HDMI
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Dimensions: 65x131x8mm
- 1650mAh battery
- Giroscopio, G-Sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor, light sensor
HTC One X (Endeavor) specifications
- Android 4.0
- Quad-core 1GHz processor
- Quad band GPRS, EDGE, HSDPA 21 Mbps and HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
- 4.7″ LCD 1280 × 720 pixels, touch screen display
- 32GB internal storage, microSD (max 32GB)
- 8 megapixel main camera with LED flash, BSI sensor (for shooting in low light). HD video recording. 1.3 front-facing camera
- Bluetooth 3.0
- microUSB with MHL HDMI
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Dimensions: 69x134x9mm
- Weight: 146g
- 1800mAh battery
- Talk time up to 595 minutes Standby up to 715 hour
- Giroscopio, G-Sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor, light sensor
When we first heard that Samsung would not be announcing the Galaxy S III in Barcelona, we knew the rumor mill would start flying. On the eve of the biggest show in mobile, BGR, who has been known to indulge in a rumor or two, claims to have information from a solid source about Samsung’s upcoming flagship 2012 device.
First up, the display. The Galaxy S III will reportedly take a more is more stance, with a super-sized 4.8″ Super AMOLED HD Plus display (likely a 1280 x 720 resolution similar to the Galaxy Nexus). The S III is also rumored to be touting a quad-core processor, likely its own quad-core Exynos 4412 chipset we were drooling over yesterday, which clocks in between 1.5-1.8 GHz on an ARM Cortex-A9 chipset. We could see something come out of left field, like the inclusion of the 5250 or 5450 Exynos chips, which are Samsun’s dual and quad-core (respectively) chips running on the greatly improved ARM Cortex-A15.
A rumor of the stranger variety is that BGR’s source claims the Galaxy S III will feature a ceramic backing instead of the plasticky textured backings we’ve grown accustomed to in Samsung’s smartphones. This rumor should be taken with a grain gallon of salt, as using a ceramic backing to the device would be an interesting design choice on Samsung’s part, to say the least.
Regardless, we likely won’t be hearing official details about the Galaxy S III until it’s officially unveiled closer to its launch date, which is rumored to be in the March/April timeframe. If BGR‘s final claim is accurate, the Galaxy S III will reportedly launch in 50 major markets simultaneously, which hopefully means that us folks over in the U.S. won’t have to wait a long time to get our hands on the next great Android smartphone.
Who else is excited to pick up a Galaxy S III later this year? I know my Galaxy S II is looking a little bit sadder this morning.
Typically, when a company wants to meet, you expect more of the same -- not a change in strategy, nor a decision to enter an entirely new product category. So when Razer wanted to meet us one bright, oddly cold San Franciscan morning last August, we certainly weren't expecting to meet its CEO, Min-Liang Tan, and we definitely weren't prepared to find a 17-inch prototype laptop, henceforth known as the Blade.
Shaving puns aside, we listened to Tan proudly wax on about the results of nearly three years of development, much of which involved recruiting a bevy of talent from the now-defunct OQO. What they'd accomplished, according to Tan, was the "world's first true gaming portable." An audacious statement, sure, especially considering the Blade was to be Razer's foray into the PC market. No matter. Tan's impetus was clear: the outfit would cater to gamers who'd been left in a vacuum after formerly gaming-obsessed companies sold out, leaving the segment to languish. His angle, however, would be different. The Blade wasn't going to be a gaudy, gargantuan, no-holds barred device with outright performance in mind. No, instead the 0.8-inch thick aluminum beaut would attempt to straddle the worlds of portability with performance, seeking to hit a perfectly balanced middle ground.
That sounded reasonable, but judging by reactions from most of you, the decision to stuff this $2,799 rig with a mid-range GeForce GT 555M card wasn't. Nor was the call to kit it with a paltry 320GB of rotational storage. Razer would rectify the latter in December, promising 256GB SSDs for all -- a concession that would push shipments back, well, until now. Still, even after toying with it briefly at CES, our impressions were ultimately shallow, as we couldn't get much of a feel for it in that controlled environment. Which brings us to the present day, and with Razer graciously airdropping a Blade onto our doorstep, does this experimental laptop stand up to its maker's gutsy claims? Or will those who've shelled just shy of three grand be sorely disappointed with its execution? Well, there's only one way to find out, and that's to join us past the break.
Razer Blade Look and Feel Review
We hate using the term, but we will anyway: the Blade is sexy. That's a grossly overused word, sure, but if we ever really meant it, that time would be now. The Blade feels premium in a way that's difficult to quantify, but we're sure it has something to do with that sturdy shell and relatively thin profile. There's no question in our mind, though, its inspiration, down to the minutiae, borrows heavily -- and we mean heavily -- from the 17-inch MacBook Pro. Details like its latchless design, sunken chiclet keyboard, to the shape of its outer shell down and its identical hinge. But we're perfectly okay with that, as they've been remixed into something far more arresting.
That luxurious experience begins not with the hardware, but the elaborate packaging. To say we weren't expecting much would be an understatement -- can you remember the last time you unboxed a PC laptop? -- but how could you not, with the faux-carbon fiber weave adorning the box above? Not to mention those gorgeous asymmetrical cut-outs, giving way to a Razer-green layer beneath, subconsciously begging you to peel it away. Lifting off the top half reveals an interior dominated by the rather large laptop, which you'll conveniently lift out with a similarly hued green ribbon. Underneath, you'll find the usual suspects: a pouch containing manuals, stickers and so forth, alongside a custom oblong power brick. So far so good.
To achieve that relatively thin 0.8-inch profile, Razer's kitted its offering with a sparser number of ports than you'd find on a traditional "gamer-focused" machine. On the left side, just past the beefy cooling vent, there's power, Ethernet, HDMI, three USB ports (one of the 3.0 persuasion, demarcated in green) and a headphone jack. That's it connectivity-wise, as on the right you'll find another exhaust (identical in size and placement to its leftward cousin) and a Kensington lock slot about half way down. It's around this time you realize the Blade is devoid of an optical drive, so those thinking about installing games the old-fashioned way better invest in an external unit or get cozy with a service like Valve's Steam or EA's Origin. Other exterior highlights worth mentioning are a backlit logo on the lid, which glows green, and an additional set of chrome-accented vents festooning the base.
Lift the lid and you'll see that sparse aesthetic extends onto the laptop's interior. Which, apart from the already mentioned backlit keyboard and LCD-stuffed trackpad, is home to a rather large power button, which glows green when the laptop is powered on, and pulses when the machine's asleep. The only remaining features crammed onto the deck space are a speaker grille that runs the entire length of the hinge, and a chrome-ringed webcam, just north of the screen.
While tastefully designed and well-built, unfortunately not all is perfect in the land of the Blade. There's one niggling flaw that taints the otherwise top-notch experience, and it has to do with difficulties in prying the latchless notebook open. Either the hinge isn't lubricated enough, or the front-portion of the system isn't privy to enough mass, but with the unit shut, attempts to lift the display are met with frustration, as its bottom (read: computer-housing portion) comes along for the ride. You eventually adjust to opening it more slowly and with less force, or by holding the base while you attempt the maneuver -- neither of which, we think, are satisfactory options for a machine this expensive. It's an unfortunate oversight (or engineering compromise, perhaps) and our only real gripe with the hardware, though unfortunately it rears its head every time you open it.
Razer Blade Keyboard and Touchpad Review
While the rest of the Blade isn't functionally different from other laptops, its party piece, the LCD-toting touchpad and the ten configurable buttons directly above it, are certainly novel. We'll begin with the mousing device. As best as we can tell, its top-most layer houses a rather thick layer of tempered plastic, which unfortunately introduces more friction than we'd like, in addition to the fact that it just doesn't feel as premium as the rest of the laptop. Although in fairness, with time (and of course, grease) swipes do become easier. But for what it lacks in feel, the pad makes up for in accuracy: we found tracking excellent and can happily report that for once we've got a trackpad that can actuate two-finger scrolling in a non-frustrating fashion. Like all PC scrolling, it's linear -- there isn't any spiffy physics-induced acceleration of content here -- but the Synaptics pad was more than responsive otherwise. Multitouch also makes an appearance, naturally making that previous two-finger scrolling endeavor possible, as well as a few others: like pinch-to-zoom, two-finger rotations and three-finger swipes which provide a modicum of functionality depending on what app has focus. Those additional gestures weren't nearly as polished, but seeing as they're less generally useful, we didn't mind much, except for the last, which you'll have to be rather deliberate to actuate as you swap between pre-programmed sets of icons in one mode of trackpad.
But stuffing a trackpad with an LCD can only get you so far, which is where the company's Switchblade-UI comes in. After creating or logging into the company's Synapse service, the ten keys above burst into life. From the initial screen above, you can use the touchpad as you normally would, or throw it into one of ten alternative modes -- nine of which hijack all trackpad mousing functionality altogether (leaving all cursor control to a dedicated external mouse). Returning to the default mode is thankfully easy, though, as one hits the dedicated Razer button in the bottom right corner of the keyboard. We spent most of our time in the first mode, which is the one you'll want, as this is the only one in which those delectable ten keys can be configured as you please. To customize them you'll use the company's Synapse utility, which is where you can create and save multiple profiles -- a fancy name for groupings of your button-machinations. Within each profile, you can configure infinite sets of ten keys, which you'll then swipe between with that three finger swipe we mentioned earlier.
From Synapse those buttons can be assigned to mimic any key press, any mouse button, a pre-recorded macro or alternatively launch a program. Once you've assigned a function, you can optionally choose an icon (your own, or one of the company's pre-sets) and voila, you're good to go. While some of you will no doubt painstakingly go through and create multiple profiles for all your favorite games, we reveled in primarily using this functionality as our application launcher. With one-touch access to our favorite ten programs, and only a swipe away from twenty, we nary had to touch the Windows taskbar or desktop shortcuts to launch our browser, Photoshop or whatever game we pleased. It's an Optimus mini six mini ten on our laptop and it's the next best thing since sliced bread.
Believe it or not, that's only the trackpad's first view. Tapping the Razer key and returning to its initial screen, the next three options are widget-y type screens: a numpad, a mode to record macros and a pane to enable and tweak settings pertaining to "Gaming mode." Following that is the browser (more on that later), which also serves as the basis for the following four: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and GMail. Apart from YouTube (which is more customized and gets a custom mapping of buttons), these all load mobile versions of those sites, which can range from workable (Twitter), frustrating (Facebook) or pretty much unusable (GMail). The final and tenth function, is a clock -- something we'd have loved to use as our trackpad's background (instead of the persistent Razer logo), but curiously this mode blocks our mousing endeavors, despite being non-customizable and unresponsive to gestures.
Circling back to the touchpad's browser, it actually runs a separate process of Internet Explorer -- the giveaway being the tell-tale clicking sound effect you'll hear when you tap links. When surfing, the bottom five keys swap to pertain to navigation, with the last two allowing you to bringing up URL and search fields which you populate with input from the keyboard. It's serviceable when you need a walkthrough, but no way to store bookmarks or change the default homepage, we found it simply quicker to pull out a smartphone, reach for a tablet, or even use the Windows key to hop out of a game and open a real desktop browser to find what we were looking for.
That's unfortunate, because while stuffing a screen underneath a trackpad sounds like a geek's dream, the software powering the trackpad is lackluster. In a day and age with mobile devices housing far richer experiences, there isn't any way you'll be using the mobile website of Facebook here, over the purpose-built app on your phone. In our time with it, the trackpad was a conversation starter, sure, but ultimately the widgets onboard need a significant investment of time and resources to make them practical enough for us to recommend them. You could argue that Razer should just run Android on the touchpad instead, and while that would assuage some of our concerns, if given the choice, we'd just dump the screen entirely and put those savings toward a cheaper starting price. Put simply, had the screen beneath the Blade gone "missing," from prototype to production, we'd have been just as pleased in our time with it -- keep the ten customizable buttons above it, though -- those can stay.
When it came to the keyboard, there was better news, as we've got unwavering praise for the tactility of the unit on the Blade. We'd have preferred if the entire deck were shifted a bit northward, allowing for a roomier palm rest, but now we're just nitpicking, as that chiclet keyboard is top-notch. As you'd expect, every key is backlit, though for whatever reason, despite the F-row being backlit, the secondary Fn-based controls that co-inhabit them, aren't. That sets you up for some inconvenience when adjusting brightness or volume in low-light, but we'll hazard that before long you'll have their respective F1-F12 mappings committed to memory. Lastly, we're told it's anti-ghosted too, which might not have made a huge difference when typing this review, but certainly caters to the kind of serious gamers for whom Razer seeks.
Razer Blade Display and Sound Review
If one piece defines our time with the Blade, it's the gargantuan 17.3-inch display. Defining the unit's massive footprint, the full 1080p matte panel (1920 x 1080) is a particularly bright spot. Ripe with color and vibrant from all angles, we had no complaints about the panel's black levels, contrast or brightness. White balance skews a little blue, but nothing that couldn't be rectified with some calibration. Finally, did you hear us say it's matte? Because it is, and that's your only choice. Kudos, Razer -- death to glossy displays.
As splendid as its primary display is, our general feeling of disappointment with secondary LCD found underneath the trackpad continues. Its certainly not of the same caliber, suffering primarily from a lack of brightness and poor black levels. Weak contrast aside, the reflective screen is more squint-inducing than we'd like, rendering it especially dim in bright environments. We also noticed its tendency to diagonally shear while displaying fast-paced content -- say like when rapidly scrolling a webpage, or whilst watching video with fast-paced action. Seeing as you won't be using it much, neither are deal-breakers, but we'd hoped for more when we were told it was equivalent to a smartphone panel. In contrast, the ten programmable keys sitting directly above (all powered by a separate LCD, we'd imagine), are bright and delectably tactile as ever.
Which brings us to the Blade's acoustic performance. Unlike some of its flashier contemporaries, Razer didn't team up with a speaker manufacturer to serve up audio on the Blade. Setting aside the question of whether or not marketing infused tie-ups actually derive better sound, the unfortunate fact is the audio experience on the Blade is woefully subpar. Our unit wasn't particularly loud, but more alarming was the complete dearth of any meaningfully low bass notes. Not unlike listening to earbuds lying on your desk, the sound lacks any warmth -- which is unacceptable, given that $2,799 price tag. You can ameliorate the situation slightly by flipping the included Dolby Home Theater software on, but ultimately software enhancements can only go so far. We know, serious gamers will use plug in a proper headset, but it's definitively the weakest area of the Blade -- so bad mind you, we initially questioned if our unit was faulty.
Razer Blade Performance Review
Despite being tuned for balance, the Blade eked out a rather respective showing in our usual collection of benchmarks. Armed with a 2.8GHz Core i7-2640M CPU, it notched a speedy 14,379 in PCMark Vantage. It wasn't nearly as triumphant in the graphics department, where it was held back by that GeForce 555M card, which managed 11,556 in 3DMark06 and P1,536 in 3DMark11.
Performance isn't all about raw numbers, though, and happily the Blade doesn't disappoint in real world use. Throughout our testing, the Blade was able to handle typical computing tasks aplomb: heavy web browsing, Photoshop editing and serving as an Engadget workhorse were all dealt swiftly and without complaint. It's when you ask the Blade to serve as your gaming compatriot, however, things begin to get a little murky. While after-work Starcraft II matches cranked just shy of ultimate posed no problem (with framerates consistently in the high forties to fifties), we can't say the same about newer titles which invoke strain, even after you reel in the visuals significantly. [Update: Fresh drivers from NVIDIA drastically improved performance for Skyrim, enabling the game to run on the GPU instead of integrated graphics card. With graphics cranked to high we saw frames hover around high twenties, and in medium a very playable low forties]. With something like Battlefield 3 on the other hand, we had more luck, eking out more respectable mid-30FPS from medium settings, again at full resolution.
When it came to heat dissipation, we had no complaints in our time spent with the Blade. As you'd expect, things get a little toasty while running full tilt, but even then it won't lacerate, and for general purposes it kept decently cool. Fans weren't loud obnoxiously loud either, however, in time you'll notice the fairly aggressive leftward unit which has a tendency to flare up any time you encounter peaky CPU work. We weren't particularly dismayed by the behavior, but it's definitively noticeable, perhaps more so here, as the Blade's SSD makes it silent otherwise.
Finally, thanks to its aforementioned reliance on flash storage, loading times, installs and boots were speedy, with the latter clocking in at 17-18 seconds from a cold start to the Windows login screen. Running the disk benchmark ATTO informed us that peak reads happened at 467MB/sec and writes at 362MB/sec. Finally, we'd like to applaud Razer for making the right choice in delaying shipment to opt for that SSD -- in 2012 as far as we're concerned, it's a must-have in a machine in this price range.
Razer Blade Battery Life Review
So we've determined it isn't quite the graphical sprinter, but can the Blade still come out ahead in the marathon that's battery longevity? In a word no. As shown above, running Engadget's video-rundown test at roughly half brightness reveals things are a little more complicated than you might have initially thought. Yes, the Blade's less power hungry graphics are primarily responsible for it running circles around its more pudgy, brute-ish rivals. Still, that's not saying much, as being just shy of three hours, it falls considerably short when compared to more mainstream notebooks. Still, that bests MSI's 15-inch GT583DXR by a full 20 minutes despite wielding a larger screen (but with a lesser card) and demolishes the more comparable 17-inch Qosmio X775's by a whopping hour and a half -- all, in a thin profile.
Alas, if you were planning on a sojourn sans charger, you'll be out of luck. Even with casual use and exercising brightness restraint, we were only able to coax just shy of three and a half hours of work out of its 60Wh battery -- dwindling down to around three with full brightness. For those daring to game on the go, unlike other laptops which'll significantly pare down their performance, the Blade will cheerfully run at full throttle for about an hour before simmering down. Ultimately neither are legendary, we know, but compared to other laptops, definitely workable.
Razer Blade Software Review
Seeing as its exterior is devoid of all stickers -- save for one -- why would Razer go and mess with its innards? Thankfully it hasn't, leaving the Blade free of additional software or crapware, with an almost clean install of Windows 7 Home Premium. And we mean "almost," as you'll still get Dolby Home Theater software and a copy of Razer's Synapse app -- the later of which you'll want to configure that those LCD buttons.
Razer Blade Configuration options Review
We're serious. There's only one way to get a Blade and that's to pay for this lone $2,799 config.
Razer Blade Competition Review
The market for laptops that cost nearly three large is by no means sprawling, but indulge us for just a moment while we compare the Blade to other systems that compete in this arena. We'll begin with the granddaddy of them all, the Alienware M17x. Though configurations of that beastly guy start at $1,499, it can be stuffed with all sorts of doodads, pushing it beyond the Blade's $2,799 price. To match the Blade's price tag, we began with the $1,899 machine and kitted it with a 2.5GHz Core i7-2860QM, 256GB of solid state storage and opted for the 1080p panel upgrade. Standard on that model is 8GB of RAM (identical to the Blade) as well as the much more potent GeForce GTX 580M. The combination of a quad-core chip and graphics would make mincemeat out of the Blade, but at twice the thickness and double the poundage, we'll leave it up to you if that's worth the trade-off. Still, it merits noting that even the base $1,499 model with its quad-core i7 and Radeon HD 6870M would most certainly give the Blade a run for its money.
Then there's something like the MSI GT780DXR. Like the m17x, it's not as pleasing on the eyes, but at $1,799 it's hard to dismiss its bang-for-your-buck specs, which include: a Core i7-2630QM, 16GB of RAM, dual 750GB drives and the beefy onboard NVIDIA GTX 570M. When we reviewed it's smaller 15-inch brother, we took issue with some of its cheap materials -- like an abysmal keyboard and bargain-basement glossy plastics -- but one can't deny the results of its internals. Ultimately, the same caveat applies here though, you'll have to decide how much you value portability while hulking two-inch thick machine such as this.
We have yet to review it, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention Samsung's Series 7 Gamer. Like some of its contemporaries, it, too, has a quad-core Core i7, 1080p 17-inch display, yet we're unsure on how punchy it'll be with its ho-hum Radeon HD 6970M. You're probably looking at better build quality than say MSI's offering, and we think rather striking in the optional red or marigold yellow hues. We'll find out how good it is when it ships in April, but for $1,799 there's another gaming option at under two grand to put on your radar.
Finally, this is a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison -- insofar that Apple doesn't make a "gaming" focused laptop -- but it's worth mentioning the 17-inch MacBook Pro, as it, too, is known for offering a slim profile, given its otherwise sprawling dimensions. Starting at $2,499, you've got to tack on additional $200 for 4GB of RAM, $500 for a 256GB SSD and $50 for the anti-glare display to rival the Blade in the spec department. For those keeping track at home, that's $3,249 -- a configuration with a faster quad-core i7 paired with a slower Radeon 6770M GPU. That's a hefty chunk of change for a machine thats roughly as thin as the Blade (albeit at 0.9 inches, somewhat thicker), yet also one that's devoid of a hinge and speaker problems that blemish Razer's offering.
Razer Blade Wrap-up Review
So where does Razer's first foray into the PC realm leave us? On the one hand, this is one beautiful, well-made, powerful, impossibly thin laptop. On the other, you'll need a stack of cash to the tune of $2,799. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of dough to shell on a computer from a company that's just getting its feet wet in the category. Frankly, you wouldn't be crazy to sit this one out, with flaws like abysmal audio, a disobedient hinge and the indisputable fact that most of the latest gaming titles give this guy a run for its money. Additionally, there's that LCD-trackpad, which despite oozing cool, is destined to be more of a gimmick than must-have, at least until Razer invests in some better widgets.
Ultimately, though, the Blade was never about specs, and despite its maker's penchant for calling it a "gaming" machine, it's really just a striking, fast and beautiful laptop. Despite its flaws, the Blade is greater than the sum of its parts. We're cognizant $2,799 is a tough pill to swallow, though, and despite our rational selves saying "no" we've nonetheless grown quite attached after spending a week with it. For those of you with that kind of dispensable cash, go for it -- who knows, you've probably also got enough laying around to build a serious dedicated gaming rig. Personally, we're waiting for Razer to ditch the LCD-touchpad (but keep the customizable keys) and offer a similarly specced 15-incher for around two grand. Razer will really have a winner then, and yes, we'll take two.