Author Archives: Chris Davies


$400 Motorola XOOM tablet is today’s Woot deal

As the first Honeycomb tablet to hit store shelves, the Motorola XOOM perhaps lacks some of the glamor of its more recent Android slate siblings; however, it's still a solid option as long as the price is right. Woot's deal for today is a $399.99 XOOM WiFi, a saving of $100 versus other retailers. Now, it's a refurbished unit, not brand new, but we imagine there are plenty of people who will look past that for the sake of $100 left in their pocket. It's also not the Verizon 3G model, so there's no WWAN connectivity and no 4G LTE upgrade on the horizon; still, you also don't commit yourself to a data plan. In fact the biggest issue might be low-cost rivals. Amazon is currently asking the same price for a brand new Acer Iconia Tab A500, which we reviewed back in April, with similar performance but a metal casing.

ASUS confirms Eee Pad Transformer power fix incoming

ASUS has admitted to an issue with the Eee Pad Transformer's power management settings, which could see users of the keyboard dock experience problems with power drain and how well the attachment recharges. According to ASUS, the fault is down to how the company chose to configure the power management around sleep mode; however, there's also a fix promised. The exact nature of that fix has not been explained, though ASUS says it will be announcing details "shortly" on how it intends to resolve the situation. Most likely, however, is a firmware update that will change the power management configuration based on the feedback ASUS has received from owners.
"Apologies to anyone who has encountered issues with their Transformer keyboard dock (power drain and charging). The issue is related to the way we configured the device’s power management in/out of sleep mode. We will shortly be announcing details on how this will be resolved for our customers" ASUS
Despite the issues, the Eee Pad Transformer has reportedly been a significant sales success. ASUS claimed it was the best-selling Android tablet recently, with the production line unable to keep up with demand for the low-cost Honeycomb slate. More information in our full review.

Motorola XT316 aka SPICE Key and FIRE gets official: Cheap Android QWERTY

Motorola has given the green light to its latest Android smartphone, a QWERTY-blessed candybar with low-cost ambitions. The Motorola XT316 - which will launch as the Motorola SPICE Key in Latin America, and as the Motorola FIRE in Europe - follows in the footsteps of the DROID Pro, offering a 2.8-inch QVGA touchscreen above a keyboard; on the back there's a 3-megapixel camera. There's also WiFi b/g/n, dual-band HSDPA and quadband GSM/EDGE, along with a microSD card slot, FM radio, GPS/A-GPS and a digital compass. A 3.5mm headphone jack, the usual sensors for ambient light, proximity and orientation, and a 1420 mAh battery good for up to eight hours of talktime or 30 days of 3G standby round out the key specs. Already on sale in China (as the XT316) running Android 2.2 Froyo with Motorola's various social networking integrations and Moto Switch UI, the smartphone will arrive in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Latin America sometime this month. It'll hit the rest of Asia and Europe later in the Summer, with the SPICE Key and FIRE running Gingerbread out of the box; those handsets running Froyo will get a 2.3 update sometime in the fall. No word on pricing, nor on whether the XT316 will make it to North America, though we have seen it cross through the FCC. [gallery]

Panasonic UT-PB1 tablet/ereader gets video demo

Panasonic has outed a new Android-based ereader, using a 7-inch 1024 x 600 LCD display rather than an e-paper panel like the Kindle or NOOK. The Panasonic UT-PB1 slate, which made its debut at the e-Book Expo Tokyo DigInfo reports, runs an unspecified dual-core processor and, rather than taking on the iPad, is expected to target new ebook buyers in their 30s and 40s. Like most Android tablets we're seeing, there's an integrated webcam, WiFi and a microSDHC memory card slot, and there are the usual apps for browsing, email and other functionality. Panasonic has tweaked the UI with a pinch-gesture bookshelf layout, showing which titles are unread and which are partly-read. Meanwhile there's also a push-messaging system using the UT-PB1's WiFi connection and a specially-developed API, that can display new Rakuten information as it's released. Panasonic expects the UT-PB1 to be primarily a Japanese-market device, where it will come preloaded with 600 ebook titles. No word on pricing or availability. [youtube OZ_9NFfMTwM] [via Engadget]

Vizio tablet hits Amazon pre-order for $350

Vizio's 8-inch Android tablet has gone up for pre-order at Amazon, offering a 1024 x 768 capacitive touchscreen, Honeycomb OS and the ability to control HDTVs and other A/V equipment via an integrated IR emitter and universal remote app. The slate was announced back at CES 2011. Pre-orders through Vizio itself began at the start of the month, with the tablet expected to begin shipping on July 18. There it's $399.99, versus the $349.99 that Amazon is asking, though when you buy direct you get it with a 16GB microSD card and a special folio case that also works as a stand. If you can do without those accessories, though, you can save $50, and we imagine many would-be buyers will be looking for the cheapest option. Your money gets you front and rear facing cameras and WiFi b/g/n, though Amazon isn't saying when it expects the slate to ship. [via NetbookNews]

ASUS delays Eee Pad Slider release: Now due Fall 2011

ASUS has updated its expected launch window for the Eee Pad Slider, with the company now claiming the Honeycomb slate with a QWERTY surprise won't launch in the UK until sometime this autumn (aka fall). Previously, ASUS had promised an August release for the Slider, having already delayed the Android tablet at least once. Unveiled alongside the Eee Pad Transformer back at CES 2011, the Eee Pad Slider has a 10.1-inch touchscreen and NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset, but also includes a sliding/tilting QWERTY keyboard. Unlike the 'board offered for the Transformer, which can be detached or turn the tablet into a netbook of sorts, the Slider's hides behind the body of the slate itself. Reports back in February suggested the Eee Pad Slider would go on sale in mid-April, though unspecified delays have pushed that back. There's no official word from ASUS as to its reasoning, but we've heard some talk that the hinge mechanism could have presented issues. [device id=629]

Samsung Galaxy S II US launch delay down to carrier disinterest?

Samsung's Galaxy S II remains one of our favorite smartphones here at Android Community, and with sales passing 3m worldwide in the first 55 days of availability, its absence from the US market is increasingly frustrating. According to a new report from Korea, however, that may not change any time soon; Chosun Ilbo claims that US carriers like Verizon are dismissing the Galaxy S II because Samsung's CDMA expertise lags behind that of Motorola and others. According to the paper, Motorola "makes phones that work best with the American mobile protocol CDMA. That means US telecoms have a better alternative." Although the Galaxy S was the best selling Android device in the US at one point in 2010, carriers are supposedly less inclined to pick up its successor because HTC and Motorola are offering more compelling CDMA options now. "When the Galaxy S smartphone was launched last year, no competing new models by Motorola and HTC were available" the paper suggests. "As far as US telecoms were concerned, the Galaxy S was the only alternative to the iPhone last year. But the new model faces much tougher competition" Samsung has not confirmed the rumors, but an unnamed executive from the company did admit that "negotiations with American telecom companies have dragged on" while European sales flourish and the Canadian carriers are gung-ho about the handset. [via GottaBeMobile]

Amazon Appstore saved from Apple injunction attack

Apple's demands to have Amazon barred from describing its Android software download store as an "app store" have been rejected, with courts throwing out an injunction request this week. While US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton didn't necessarily agree with Amazon's claims that the term had become generic, Reuters reports, she nonetheless felt that Apple had failed to establish the necessary "likelihood of confusion" required for an injunction to be the appropriate response. The decision falls in line with predictions late last month, where Judge Hamilton warned Apple that their case had likely been insufficient. She had said she was "troubled" by what Apple had brought before her, however, with the Cupertino company's approach being that Amazon's use of "app store" could "confuse and mislead customers." With a quick fix no longer possible, it now looks like Apple and Amazon's legal battle will end up going through the courts properly. A trial date of October 2012 has been set.

TI promises Full HD Netflix streaming on Android devices soon

Texas Instruments has announced that its OMAP4 platform has been Netflix certified for the 1080p Full HD version of the streaming movie company's app, the first time a mobile platform has been approved. It's the M-Shield security section that's won TI the kudos, apparently, working in combination with the high-definition capabilities of the processor cores. Although Netflix already has an Android app, its compatibility is limited to certain handsets. That, the company has previously explained, is because Android lacks standardized secure streaming protocols that Netflix can use not only to funnel their content out to phones and tablets, but also use to reassure content owners that the movies won't be ripped and shared illegally. TI's M-Shield security system, however, offers a hardware-protected, trusted execution environment (TEE), running on the OMAP4's dual ARM Cortex-A9 cores, but supposedly does away with either a dedicated chip or extra CPU cycles. There's also support for Full HD HDMI output, which could mean plugging your Android phone into an HDTV and turning it into a mobile Roku-style streamer. According to TI, devices with the Netflix app pre-loaded "will be launched in the near future."

Path for Android released: Social photo sharing made simple

Path for Android has entered beta, allowing Google phone users to access the photo-based social network service. Released on iOS some months ago, Path positions its app as a way to share photos you've taken with a small group of trusted friends or colleagues: each account supports up to just 50 contacts. Images can be tagged, both with the identity of people in the shots, as well as places and things in-frame as well. Comments and conversations are supported, along with records of who has viewed your image and - using Path's "Emotion" system - how they felt when they saw it. For a broader audience, it's possible to share shots directly from Path to Facebook. It's a free download, though the Path team does warn that there could be a few rough edges and that it's not quite as polished as the iOS version. You can download Path for Android v1.0 from the Android Market now.