Ice Cream Sandwich

HTC One V: An In-depth Review

HTC One V

If you’re looking for a quality yet wallet-friendly smartphone, you may want to take a peek at the HTC One V. This entry-level Android phone belongs to the HTC One series, and runs the Android 4.0 platform, or commonly known as the Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. Beats Audio, Dropbox, and Video-Pic are just some of the highlights of this unit. To learn more about its features, you may want to continue to read on.

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[Announcement] Asus Padfone 2 Launch in Malaysia

ASUS PadFone 2. Image Credit: ASUS

KUALA LUMPUR, 13 December – The highly-anticipated gadget is here to rock your Christmas! Introducing the ASUS Padfone 2 that will be available in stores starting today. Like its innovative predecessor, this hybrid-dockable Android smartphone and tablet is all about supreme mobile flexibility. Moreover, Padfone 2 comes with a deadly fast 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor, is LTE- ready, and with a whole new refreshing design!

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[Impressions] 5″ LG Optimus Vu

Optimus-Vu-Black-LR

LG recently introduced the latest addition to its popular range of Optimus smartphones, called the Optimus Vu – a big and bright Android-powered smartphone with tablet-like viewing experience. We had a brief hands-on with the GALAXY Note competitor.

The Optimus Vu is a top-of-the-line smartphone running Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich (upgradeable to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean when available), and powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5Ghz quad-core processor and 1GB RAM. It comes with a generous 32GB of internal memory and 2,080 mAh battery to match.

Optimus-Vu_-1-LRThe brilliantly crisp and bright IPS display brings true HD to the user – all 5 inches of it, in 4:3 ratio (768 x 1024 pixels @ 256PPI). It is slightly strange that LG has gone with the ratio as the trend has pointed to 16:9 on current smartphones. However, with LG’s renowned IPS technology, we expected superior colour clarity and picture quality, and it did not disappoint.

The Optimus Vu’s profile is ultra slim at only 8.5mm and at 159g, very light indeed for a phone its size.

LG’s phablet comes built-in with an 8MP shooter on the rear, and a HD-capable 1.3MP shooter in the front. Nothing groundbreaking here, but keeps up with the competition.

Not to be outdone by the pioneers of the ‘phablet’ space, Samsung, with their highly successful GALAXY Note family, LG has custom-built its own memo app called QuickMemo. The Optimus Vu comes with a dedicated QuickMemo hotkey to enable users to easily jot down notes or messages. Getting into the stylus game, the Optimus Vu comes with a dedicated Rubberdium pen (yes, that’s what it’s called). 

Our quick take
The Optimus Vu doesn’t quite bring anything new to the plate, especially in the phablet category where the GALAXY Note and Note II is king. However, based on hardware specs alone, LG’s phablet effort can be a viable alternative, especially at such an attractive price point. Consumer choice is a good thing 🙂

Pricing and Availability
The Optimus Vu: is available in black and white at all LG authorised dealers, at the recommended retail price of RM1,899.

Key specifications at a glance:

o Chipset: 1.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
o Display: 5-inch (1024×768) IPS Display
o Memory: 32GB eMMC and 1GB DDR2
o Camera: 8MP with AF LED Flash (rear) and 1.3MP (front)
o OS: Android OS, v4.0.4 (ICS)
o Battery: 2,080mAh
o Dimension (L x W x D): 139.6 x 90.4 x 8.5mm

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Motorola Announces Android Software Upgrades For Their Devices

Moto got-o update-o!

Moto got-o update-o!

Motorola users, rejoice! As long-awaited updates for your Androids are now finally available. Latest updates to Moto hardware include a slew of Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich.

The Android Software Upgrade or Update is divided into Region/Model divisions where you can see clearly when the updates are available. The most notable update is the Jelly Bean Upgrade (Android 4.1.1) for the Motorola Xoom, for both WiFi-only and WiFi+3G/LTE models. This will be pushed to users in Q4 2012 for the US region only.

Sadly, the Asia-Pacific models will only get Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) update (Android 4.04), the only consolation is that it’s available now. There should be a Jelly Bean update for Asia Pacific in the coming months (at least we hope).

US users have an option to trade-up some of their phones which did not get updates e.g. ATRIX 4G and PHOTON 4G with newer models via the Motorola Trade-up program at motorola.com/tradeup.

Well, let’s look on the bright side. Maybe it is really time to get that spanking new Motorola RAZR MAXX HD that was announced recently, or you could try updating your devices using other alternatives and see where it goes?

For more info on your updates, visit their site here: MOTOROLA

Check out Asia Pacific update list:

ASIA-PACIFIC

MT917 (China) ICS Upgrade (Android 4.0.4) rollout began in June 2012.
XT928 (China) ICS Upgrade (Android 4.0.4) rollout began in June 2012.
MOTOROLA RAZR XT910/XT910S/XT910K ICS Upgrade (Android 4.0.4) rollouts began in July 2012.
MOTOROLA XOOM 3G (Korea) ICS Upgrade (Android 4.0.4) rollout began in July 2012.
MOTOROLA XOOM WiFi Only MZ604 ICS Upgrade (Android 4.0.4) rollouts began in May 2012.
MOTOROLA XOOM WiFi Only MZ606 (China) ICS Upgrade (Android 4.0.4) rollouts began in July 2012.
ATRIX 2 ICS Upgrade (Android 4.0.4) rollout scheduled to begin in Q4 2012.
MOTOROLA XOOM 2 ICS Upgrade (Android 4.0.4) rollout began in Sept. 2012.
ATRIX MB860/MB861/ME860 Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)
PHOTON 4G (Japan) Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)
MOTOROLA XOOM WiFi + 3G MZ601 ICS Upgrade (Android 4.0.4) rollouts began in July 2012 for select countries and carriers.
DEFY+ (MB526) Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)
ME863 (China) Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)
MILESTONE 2 ME722 (China) Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)
MILESTONE 3 XT883 (China) Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3).
MOTOLUXE / XT615 / XT685 Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)
MT870 (China) Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)
MOTOROLA PRO+ Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)
XT861 (China) Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)
XT882 (China) Will remain on Gingerbread (Android 2.3)

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ASUS Debuts Thinner, Lighter PadFone 2 in Milan and Taipei

ASUS PadFone 2. Image Credit: ASUS

Taiwanese technology giant ASUS revealed the new PadFone 2, successor to the original PadFone, a combination of an Android smartphone and dockable tablet known as the PadFone Station. The new PadFone 2 is completely redesigned – thinner, lighter, much more powerful and LTE-ready.

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A Better PadFone
In a surprising move, ASUS has debuted a better, much improved version of the PadFone so quickly, the intriguing hybrid device which first wowed audiences at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona early in the year.

The PadFone 2 is a real-deal 4.7″ smartphone, running Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich, featuring a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM. The new 4.7” 1280 x 720 HD Super IPS+ display uses scratch-resistant Corning Fit Glass and delivers accurate colors, ultra-wide viewing angles and 550 nits brightness for stunning outdoor visibility.

ASUS PadFone 2. Image Credit: ASUS

A stunning 13MP high-performance camera gives you amazing detail images with no shutter lag and also comes with Burst mode that can capture up to 100 shots at a blisteringly quick six shots per second, while simultaneously recording 1080p HD video at 30fps, or 720p HD video at 60fps. Excellent.

Low-light performance is also enhanced by the wide f/2.4 aperture and a dedicated image signal processor.

Both PadFone 2 and PadFone 2 Station feature superlative sound quality with ASUS SonicMaster technology and audio tuning by Waves built-in, recipient of a Technical GRAMMY Award.

Lean, Mean Machine
What’s most apparent with the PadFone 2 against its predecessor though, is the design and weight. ASUS’ renowned ‘Design Thinking’ philosophy has resulted in a significantly slimmer, trimmer PadFone 2 Station. At 649g, the combined weight of the PadFone 2 and PadFone 2 Station is 200g lighter than previous. That’s significant!

The PadFone itself has been refined to house the bigger screen size of 4.7″ yet reducing its thickness and weight to just 9mm at its thickest point and 135g, respectively. Really good stuff.

The Big Plus, the Big Battery
The big concern of smart devices nowadays is battery life. ASUS has upped the ante again, bundling a high capacity 2,140mAh battery that provides up to 16 hours 3G talk-time and 13 hours Wi-Fi web browsing. ASUS has shaved 1,600mAh off the PadFone 2 Station’s battery to 5,000mAh though, perhaps to save weight. The previous PadFone Station came with a whopping 6,600mAh battery.

ASUS PadFone 2. Image Credit: ASUS

For connectivity, the PadFone 2 comes with 42Mbps HSPA+ / 4G LTE and NFC.

Availability & Pricing
PadFone 2 will be launched before the end of December in Europe (Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden) and Asia (Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and U.A.E). Availability in other countries will be announced at a later date. Expect local prices to be around RM2,399 (SRP) based on current price valuations.

What We Think
Looks like ASUS has been working hard on the hybrid concept they pursued with the original PadFone. Though no longer with the attached keyboard, the newer PadFone 2 is certainly a big improvement in terms of design and refinement. Power has been bumped up and should put it in the forefront of Android smartphones and tablets.

It does remain to be seen if the hybrid concept can garner interest at a mass level. As with the original, slightly clunky PadFone and PadFone Station, it will be a niche product. Nonetheless, as we said in our recent review of the PadFone, the hybrid device is a great idea and concept that begs to be explored and improved further.

As of now, ASUS has improved on the PadFone concept and we can’t wait to get our hands on one for a review.

 

[spoiler title=”Read official press release”]

Quad-core smartphone with incredible battery life and a thinner, lighter PadFone 2 Station deliver the ultimate mobile flexibility.

2012/10/16

ASUS, a global leader in the new digital era, today announces PadFone™ 2. Building upon the successful PadFone combination of an Android smartphone and dockable tablet for incredible mobile flexibility, PadFone 2 consists of a higher specification quad-core, LTE-equipped smartphone and a completely redesigned tablet.

ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih unveiled PadFone 2 in front of the world’s media at a press conference in Milan, Italy. “Our relentless drive to innovate through our ‘Design Thinking’ philosophy has empowered us to create PadFone 2. It’s beautiful, it’s fast and, best of all, it’s intuitive,” said Mr. Shih.

PadFone 2 is a fully featured 4.7” Android™ smartphone with industry-leading specifications that docks with the unique PadFone 2 Station to become a lightweight, but fully featured, 10.1” tablet. Apps are seamlessly optimized on-the-fly to support both tablet and phone modes, with an instant transition between smartphone and tablet screen sizes.

Enlarge and charge

ASUS’ world-renowned ‘Design Thinking’ philosophy has significantly reduced PadFone 2 Station’s thickness and weight. At just 649g, the combined weight of both PadFone 2 and PadFone 2 Station is now lighter than most tablets on the market, and the dock mechanism has been redesigned to require just one swift step to use. PadFone 2 has also been subtly refined to increase its screen size to 4.7”, while reducing its thickness and weight to just 9mm at its thickest point and 135g, respectively.

Battery life is astounding, too. The higher-capacity PadFone 2 2140mAh battery provides up to 16 hours 3G talk-time and 13 hours Wi-Fi web browsing, while PadFone 2 Station’s 5000mAh battery gives up to 36 hours 3G talk-time. PadFone 2 Station’s internal battery also has enough capacity to recharge the docked PadFone 2 three times over.

Super phone, super performance

A 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM ensures incredible PadFone 2 performance in both smartphone and tablet modes. The new 4.7” 1280 x 720 HD Super IPS+ display uses scratch-resistant Corning® Fit Glass and delivers sharp, detailed images with accurate colors, ultra-wide viewing angles and 550 nits brightness for stunning outdoor visibility.

A new 13-megapixel high-performance camera captures incredibly detailed images with no shutter lag. Burst mode can capture up to 100 shots at a blisteringly quick six shots per second, while simultaneously recording 1080p HD video at 30fps, or 720p HD video at 60fps. Low-light performance is also enhanced by the wide f/2.4 aperture and a dedicated image signal processor. Both PadFone 2 and PadFone 2 Station feature superlative sound quality too, thanks to ASUS SonicMaster technology and audio tuning by Waves, recipient of a Technical GRAMMY Award®.

Easy to share, easy to save

With capacities up to 64GB and 50GB of ASUS WebStorage provided free for two years, PadFone 2 offers endless possibilities for storing data. Data syncing between devices is also a thing of the past, since PadFone 2 storage is used by PadFone 2 Station when the two are connected, while NFC allows users to share webpages, Contacts and user recommendations from Play Store with others. Shared mobile data connectivity between smartphone and tablet also means just one data plan is needed for both devices, while support for up to 42Mbit/s DC-HSPA+ and 100Mbit/s LTE delivers super-fast web browsing and downloads.

User-friendly enhancements

PadFone 2 also features a new version of the SuperNote app that instantly converts handwritten notes made in multiple languages into editable text. Its Instant Translation tool also translates any word, phrase or sentence in an email, web page or app at a touch, without the need for a third-party translation tool.

Availability

PadFone 2 will be launched before the end of December in Europe (Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Sweden) and Asia (Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and U.A.E). Availability in other countries will be announced at a later date.
[/spoiler]

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[Review] ASUS Padfone Tried and Tested

ASUS PadFone

The Android smartphone space is crowded, competitive and fast becoming commoditised with key differentiators being price. Thanks to a common denominator, the Google Android OS itself, vendors and manufacturers out there are frequently searching for that “X-factor” to stand out in the market. With the ASUS PadFone, ASUS is attempting to do exactly that.

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A Phone, A Tablet, A Dock, A Laptop
The ASUS PadFone was first announced last year at Computex Taiwan, then later previewed at Mobile World Congress early this year. This intriguing hybrid device seems to continue where the Motorola Atrix Lapdock design left off.

When ASUS revealed the Transformer Pad, I found it interesting if a little crude, and Android 3.0 Honeycomb really killed the user experience for me. I admit it wasn’t my best impression of a tablet experience, especially coming from the much more mature and fluid iOS-powered iPad.

However, you have to credit ASUS for having the balls (pardon the pun) to take risks. It does take some metal to take your chances and try to stand out.

Here, the ASUS PadFone is a hybrid of a smartphone, tablet cum charging dock and a notebook (detachable keyboard).

ASUS PadFone

Design & Build
ASUS has cleverly integrated the ASUS metallic ‘swirl’ on its mobile devices, something easily identifiable at first impression. I’m not really a fan of the swirling design per se, but think it helps distinguish ASUS products from competitors.

The design is pretty pleasing. 4.3 inches is considered small nowadays with the proliferation of big form factor phones like the 5.5-inch Samsung GALAXY Note II, but it’s the kind of size that you can consider ideal.

At 129g it is very light, with a wedged profile that tapers to 9.2mm thin. Its tapered edges and thin chassis looks and feels good in the hands. Build quality of the phone is good.

ASUS PadFone

The PadFone Station (dock) that transforms the phone into a tablet is really a dumb terminal with a 16:9 ratio 10.1-inch HD display with a 1280 x 800 resolution. It weighs a hefty 724g, partly attributed to the 6,600mAh battery. For a tablet, it’s considered quite bulky (13.5mm thick), and coupled with the phone, it does get heavy. The dock also supplies a front-facing camera.

The door that lets you connect you to the phone has bumps and ridges so it is impossible to lie the PadFone as an entire unit flat on a surface, unless you place it display face first (which you wouldn’t). Something ASUS designers really need to improve on in terms of design and usability.

The keyboard is similar to a Transformer Pad’s, solidly build and confidently snaps the display into place. It also supplies an additional battery pack, two USB ports and a card reader. Ultrabooks eat your heart out. The keyboard also comes with a trackpad and a stylus, not something you see everyday.

ASUS PadFone

Playing Temple Run in tablet/notebook mode was just ‘weird’. Check out my score.

Hardware & Performance
Quadrant scoresThe PadFone, minus the attached gear is a 1.5Ghz dual-core Snapdragon processor, not the quickest in the market but has sufficient firepower for today’s everyday mobile needs. It is the same processor that powers the HTC One X.

Performance is pretty snappy with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Running Quadrant, the PadFone goes neck-to-neck with the HTC One X and is significantly faster than the GALAXY Nexus and Motorola ATRIX 4G.

Multi-tasking is a breeze, so is launching apps and playing games. Things do get a little glitchy when you dock with the PadStation though.

When quizzed during the launch on whether developers needed to do any tweaking to apps since there is technically a dual mode with the PadFone, an ASUS rep answered, “no”. For the record, that’s what Sun reps said when asked about Java.

So on paper, the modular experience is supposed to be seamless and automatic. For instance, if you’re playing a movie on the PadFone and dock it to the PadStation, it will first vibrate to tell you that its been docked properly. Then takes 1-2 seconds to switch to tablet mode, then continues playing the movie. Works great mostly, but some apps do not like the dynamic switching of resolution and may warrant a re-launch before it displays correctly.

The PadFone’s display isn’t quite a Super AMOLED or Retina Display, but adequately crisp and bright.

The rear camera is a 8MP shooter with a f/2.2 lens capable for 1080p video. Pretty decent though not as good as a Samsung GALAXY S III or HTC One X. The front facing camera is good for video chat, if anything else.

 

ASUS Padfone Home ScreenSoftware & User Experience
Like with the Transformer Pad, ASUS typically leaves the Google Android UI mostly untouched aside from a few tweaks and bundled applications, and the PadFone is no different. The bundled Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich on the PadFone is almost Nexus-like, plain vanilla Android OS. Which is a good thing looking at what some vendors are churning out with their UI layers (here’s looking at you Motorola, HTC and Samsung).

So there isn’t much difference in terms of user experience as you would on another Android device running ICS. One thing to note though that switching from phone to tablet mode and vice versa, it does give you the best of both worlds with caveats.

Thanks to Android 4.0 which is optimised for both phone and tablet, the phone UI is always 100% phone UI and the tablet is always 100% tablet UI. Which is great, until you use phone apps on the bigger screen. Some phone apps look terrible on the 10.1-inch screen. Not a fault of ASUS here but has always been a challenge for Android.

We thank ASUS for not including much bloatware in the PadFone. A few apps preloaded include DLNA app MyNet and SuperNote and ASUS own utility app.

More screenshots below:

[AFG_gallery id=’35’]

Battery Life
If there’s one thing that the PadFone truly excels in is battery life. I’m quite well known as a battery-sapper, and I was delighted with how the PadFone lasted for a few days without charging, thanks to the extra juice from the Padfone Station.

A Great Concept That Needs Refinement
I spent nearly two weeks with the PadFone and while the experience wasn’t always the most pleasant, mostly due to the weight I had to lug around my backpack, I feel it is a great concept that begs to be explored further.

I actually like the PadFone as a phone. It’s got nice build quality and good performance and battery life.

The PadFone Station is an interesting concept. Need a bigger screen? Plug it to the PadFone Station. Need to get some serious typing done? Plug in the keyboard.  A great idea, but needs some urgent refinement in terms of design and usability. For one, it could be a whole lot lighter and thinner.

It could be that the PadFone in its tablet/notebook form be a viable tablet/notebook replacement. Carrying just ‘one’ device is really quite a game-changer.

What it really needs now is some much-needed tweaks in terms of UI (Google and developers please help) and refinement in hardware design.

This is only the beginning of more interesting things to come from ASUS I feel, and I look forward to next iterations of hybrid devices from the Taiwanese company.

Pricing & Availability
The PadFone and PadFone Station sells for RM 2,399 (SRP)

Accessories (Optional)
RSP for PadFone Station Dock = RM 499
RSP for PadFone Stylus Headset = RM 179

In the Box
PadFone (smartphone) consist of charger + USB cable + earphone piece
PadFone Station (tablet) consist of USB cable + guidebook

More pictures from the picture gallery below:
[AFG_gallery id=’33’]

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