Amazon Kindle Fire Q and A with PR Rep

While taking a close look at the Kindle Fire this week in New York City at the big Amazon event, we got several different perspectives on the brand new cloud-heavy elementally-named tablet. What you're going to find is that, like all presentations of products at events such as these, there is a bit more detail in wings that, while the group presenting the device doesn't mean to hide, simply isn't as relevant to the general public, and is therefor not revealed unless someone specifically asks. That's where Vince (behind the camera in this case) comes in.

T-Mobile Promises complete store revamp

As all good stores should every once in a while at least, T-Mobile has promised a complete overhaul of their retail locations here in the USA. What you're about to see is a tour through their new look, an intelligently re-arranged setting that'll have you visiting simply to get a glimpse at it. Bright pink lights in the background, lovely stark white tables in the foreground. Look like a place you'd like to shop?

T-Mobile, Verizon support Samsung in U.S. Apple Suit

Carriers are taking sides in the ongoing patent war between Samsung and Apple. T-Mobile is the latest to join the fray, filing an amicus brief against Apple's injunction to halt sales of Samsung's Galaxy phones and tablets in the United States. The wireless carrier argues that a halt of device sales would be against the public interest as the holiday shopping season approaches. T-Mobile is following in the footsteps of Verizon, who also filed an amicus curae brief earlier this week. Both carriers feature Samsung's phones and tablets heavily in their advertising, and models the original Galaxy S have been solid sellers on both. Apple reacted harshly to Verizon's brief, saying that it was too far after the initial court filing to be included in the October case. Apple has achieved a preliminary injunction against Samsung in Germany, and Samsung has postponed its Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales in Australia pending a court ruling on the local suit. An amicus brief needs to demonstrate an immediate and irrevocable harm in order to be accepted, and T-Mobile argues that its fall and winter advertising features products like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy S II heavily. T-Mobile couldn't alter their marketing or find adequate replacement products in time if Apple achieved a ban on these models. Other major carriers have yet to weigh in on the case, but with opening arguments fast approaching, expect news from both soon, either officially or off-the-record.

Barnes & Noble stock takes a hit on Kindle Fire news

Amazon's Kindle Fire is sitting squarely in the spotlight at the moment, and Barnes & Noble investors are taking notice. The bookseller's stock price took a sizable 4% hit yesterday, with early Thursday trading sending it down another 3%. At its lowest point on Wednesday Barnes and Noble's stock hit $11.48, a loss of over 10%, but late trading helped the price rally. The Kindle Fire is seen as a competitor to Barnes & Noble's popular Nook Color tablet/reader, with the two Android-based devices sharing form factors and usage scenarios.  To help spur sales, Barnes & Noble is offering existing customers a $25 discount on the Nook Color plus free shipping, bringing its total cost down to $225. The promotion was already in place at the time of the Kindle Fire announcement, but Barnes & Noble sent out additional emails afterwards. When Barnes & Noble released the Nook Color last year, they seemed to have a decided advantage in the small "e-reader+" space. Now that Amazon has undercut the Nook Color with its $199 Kindle Fire, not to mention a new range of cheaper e-ink Kindles to compete with the Nook Touch, that no longer seems to be the case. It doesn't help that Amazon has a lead on Barnes & Noble when it comes to third-party media, like streaming video and the Amazon App Store. Of course, rumors persist of a Nook Color 2 coming in the fall or winter, when we're likely to see Barnes & Noble face each other directly with current hardware. [via All Things D]

Samsung “can’t rely on Google” for patent protection, says executive

According to an anonymous Samsung executive, the Korean manufacturer isn't looking to Google for protection in the intellectual property realm. The exec told The Korea Times that "Samsung knows it can't rely on Google," going on to say that Google's recent acquisition of Motorola isn't going to help matters. Considering the ever-escalating worldwide patent war between Samsung and Apple, it's easy to see where they're coming from. The executive went on to imply that the recent patent agreement between Microsoft and Samsung is also a way for Microsoft to lock in a major partner for its Windows Phone 7 platform. "As long as Samsung builds devices running Windows Phone, it will benefit from Microsoft’s patents,” said the source. Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility has some far-reaching industry implications, and one of them seems to be that a formerly friendly top-tier manufacturer is looking to diversify. Further expanding its operating system options, Samsung has also committed to the new Tizen platform. The next generation of Intel's MeeGo OS has already been embraced by Acer and ASUS, with HTC also looking into adding support. Tizen is being developed as an agnostic OS, working on smartphones, tablets and netbooks - not unlike the forthcoming Android Ice Cream Sandwich. And of course, Samsung has its own internal OS in bada, designed for lower-specced phones and other devices. [via SlashGear]

Sharp AQUOS 104SH will run Ice Cream Sandwich for Softbank, among others

The first officially-announced phone we've seen set to run Android version Ice Cream Sandwich will be Sharp's AQUOS 104SH, slated for Japanese carrier Softbank. Details on the new device were announced by Softbank, along with other handsets from Sharp, Panasonic and Dell. The 104SH is definitely the pick of the litter, with a 4.5-nch 1280 x 720 screen, 1.5GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460 CPU, a 12.1-megapixel camera and a IPX5/IPX7 water resistance rating. Pricing on the new phone wasn't announced, but Softbank is aiming for a Spring 2012 release window.

Skype v2.5 adds video calls to Galaxy Tab 10.1, more

Skype has updated its Android app to add video calling to more  smartphones and tablets, with v2.5 adding support for 14 more models. Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Google Nexus One and Motorola DROID 3 are notable models, though the ATRIX and LG Optimus 3D also make an appearance. In addition to the new devices, Skype has also added the ability to switch between portrait and landscape orientations while within a call, as well as zooming by tapping the display. Bluetooth headset support has been improved, and the app as a whole should be more bug-free and faster.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  • HTC Nexus One
  • HTC Shooter
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia Live with Walkman
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia neo V
  • LG Optimus Black
  • LG Optimus 3D
  • LG Optimus 2x
  • Motorola Photon
  • Motorola Droid 3
  • Motorola Bionic
  • Motorola Xoom
  • Motorola Atrix
  • Acer Iconia
On the downside, Skype has introduced advertising with this release, just as on the desktop versions for PC and Mac. You can bypass the adds if you have some Skype credit, however. Skype for Android v2.5 is a free download from the Android Market.

Samsung’s Exynos 4212 1.5GHz SoC promises 3D prowess

Samsung has outed its latest mobile processor, the Exynos 4212, a dual-core chip based on 32nm build processes and running at a hefty 1.5GHz. The successor to the much-loved 1.2GHz SoC inside the Galaxy S II, the new Exynos 4212 has apparently been designed with 3D graphics as its focus, with developers Gameloft onboard with some custom titles to demonstrate its merit. Samsung hasn't said which devices the 4212 will appear in first, but it's worth noting that the two LTE smartphones it announced last week for South Korea both use 1.5GHz chips. The Galaxy S II LTE and Galaxy S II HD LTE promise an extra jolt of performance to keep up with the high-speed 4G connection. However, with a Samsung event announced for October 11, we wouldn't be surprised to see the Exynos 4212 turn up in the rumored Samsung Nexus Prime. We'll know for sure when we head over to see what Samsung and Google have up their collective sleeves in a couple of weeks time. [via SlashGear]

HTC Explorer delivers Android on a budget

HTC has announced its latest Android smartphone, the HTC Explorer, targeted at entry-level users hoping to step up from their featurephone. Replacing the altogether underwhelming HTC Smart, only with Android 2.3 Gingerbread and HTC Sense 3.5 this time rather than BREW, the Explorer packs a 3.2-inch HVGA touchscreen, 600MHz processor and 512MB of RAM. Connectivity includes 3G, WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0, while there's a microUSB port and a microSD card slot to augment the minimal 483MB ROM. The 1,230 mAh battery is hidden behind a soft-touch, rubberized rear cover, initially available in black or blue though HTC tells us they'll have alternative colors soon. The camera is a mere 3-megapixel unit, further example of what HTC told us was a "focus on device expectations, not specifications" but what's really more likely to be the result of building to a strict budget. Pre-pay users and cash-short students are the expected audience, with HTC adding a "data monitor" app which can keep track of how much data, SMS and calls you've used. Unfortunately - for the user, at least, not the carrier - the app won't actually pop up and warn you when a limit is about to run out, you're expected to check it manually, and there's no homescreen widget at this stage. Otherwise the only app of note in the updated Sense 3.5 is "Best Deals", HTC's interpretation of the local deals market. Unfortunately we weren't able to test that in our pre-briefing with the Explorer. The HTC Explorer is expected to go on sale in Europe and Asia from October 2011. Pricing will depend on market. Update: Vodafone UK tells us they'll be offering the Explorer, though still no word on how much. [gallery]  
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