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30Sep/10Off

Windows Phone 7 Officially Unveiled on October 11th by Microsoft and AT&T, Sources Say

Today, sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal have claimed that, at an event in New York City, both Microsoft and AT&T will finally pull the curtain off the upcoming Windows Phone 7-based handsets launching on AT&T this year. These sources don’t give out too much information, but there’s definitely a running theme here: October 11th seems like the day of days for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.

Windows Phone 7 final4

The sources claim that AT&T and Microsoft will officially unveil the Windows Phone 7 devices heading to AT&T on October 11th. The devices are said to be from HTC, LG, and Samsung (one from each). The sources go on to say that the devices will be available for purchase beginning the week of November 8th of this year. Simply put, it just seems like the rumors are lining up, as we’ve heard in the past that November 8th would be the official availability date, and that October 11th would be the announcement. And considering Microsoft does indeed have an event planned for October 11th, there doesn’t seem to be any more questions needed. And we’ll be there, live, giving you all the latest information as it happens, so mark the date on your calendar.

The sources weren’t able to give out any more information, but considering we’re only a short term away from getting the official announcement from AT&T and Microsoft, there’s really no more need for any kind of leaks. Though, if you are a fan of seeing things early, the HTC Spark is certainly looking good today. Read the official statement from Microsoft below.

Official Statement

Microsoft Consumer is going to be in New York on Monday, October 11 for our annual Open House event. This holiday season is a big one for Microsoft with the launch of Xbox Kinect and Windows Phone 7, as well as new stuff from Windows Live, new Windows 7 PCs, great shopping services from Bing and more. A few groups will be on hand and would love to set up 30 minute meetings with you to demo the latest technologies and gifts for this season. Are you available on 10/11 from 11:30am – 5:00pm EST to speak with the Mediaroom team? If so, I can schedule these for you. Hoping that the Columbus Day weekend might make it easier to sneak out of the office.

We’re also hosting a party that night, 7-11pm. Should be a fun time with good food, great drinks, interesting people and you can get more hands-on time with the full range of consumer tech from Microsoft.

[via Wall Street Journal]


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30Sep/10Off

Nintendo 3DS Priced So High Thanks to Media, Says Nintendo

When Nintendo showed off the 3DS, the handheld gaming console that would let you play 3D games without the need of glasses (and letting you turn it off whenever you want, too), there general consensus was a good one. It seemed, even if Nintendo didn’t have an exact time frame for a launch date (at the time, which they’ve recently fixed), that the company had a winner on their hands. But, immediately following the announcement, and with Nintendo cleverly not including a price tag, the questions began circulating: how much would it cost. Well, it seems Nintendo didn’t have a clear idea either, at the time, but thanks to the positive reports from this year’s E3, and the subsequent “gushing” from the media regarding the device, Nintendo made up their mind. And it was a pricey decision.

Nintendo 3DS1

Nintendo made it clear that the 3DS is a crowning achievement for the company at is unveiling, and while many may have thought that the device would be expensive, that was out-stripped by the fact that this was Nintendo, and releasing expensive consoles was something they seemed pretty good at avoiding. But, when they announced that the mobile console would launch in Japan for roughly $300, the collective mass all watched as one another’s eye brows shot up. The Nintendo 3DS, packing (probably) a ridiculous amount of technology into the small package, is the most expensive console the company has ever released. And that’s including home consoles, like the Wii, or even the GameCube of yesteryear.

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s boss, says that there were many factors that went into the pricing decision for the 3DS, but in the end, it simply came down to the positive feedback they were hearing all over the place. From both reporters and readers. Thanks to the positive spin, Nintendo decided that a high price point was perfectly fine for the 3DS, and that it would be bought up regardless. There’s no doubt that the 3DS is impressive, but do you think that the high price tag is the right path for Nintendo to take? Let us know in the comments.

[via TG Daily]


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30Sep/10Off

Verizon’s 4G Network Reaches Download Speeds of 27Mbps, According to Tester

Verizon’s 4G network, based on LTE technology, is set to get kicked off in the United States by the end of the year. And, each time it gets brought up, it looks like Big Red is right on track to getting their next-generation network up and running right on time. And, as we’ve seen in the past, testing for the network are still underway. This time around, a member of the private Beta test group has posted some unofficial speed tests, and the results, reaching up to 27.79Mbps download speeds, are pretty impressive.

Verizon 4G speed test

The Beta tester posted the results, as well as a few more images, through a friend. He claims that he was using a Thomson TG789vn router, which was linked to an external dome receiver courtesy of an Ethernet cable. Through this set-up, the tester (who is located in Pennsylvania) recorded download speeds of 27.79Mbps, and an upload speed of 5.09Mbps. The ping of 150ms, a relatively high latency, suggests that the user was indeed utilizing a wireless network, and not a satellite.

The Beta tester goes on to say that the private test consists of only 60 people, and is a joint-partnership test between Verizon and DirecTV. It’s rumored to be believed that DirecTV is being used in the testing process so that Verizon does not get any attention drawn to them, as they are still trying to keep the tests quiet. As usual, though, Verizon hasn’t commented on the unofficial numbers. With the service hopefully available in several markets by the end of the year, Verizon customers ready for the 4G revolution will get to test their own hardware soon enough.

[via Electronista]


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30Sep/10Off

TomTom and Sony’s XNV-770BT, XNV-660BT Xplod In-Dash A/V Units Announced

There was talk, back at this year’s IFA, that Sony and TomTom had come to some sort of agreement, which would ultimately see the combination of the fan-favorite TomTom navigational unit, and Sony’s Xplod series of in-dash A/V units. And sure enough, it’s finally come to fruition. TomTom and Sony have officially announced the upcoming availability of two different units, packing capacitive touchscreens and plenty of other features.

TomTom Xplod GPS 580x332

The TomTom XNV-770BT will give your fingers some room to touch, as it will feature a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen. The XNV-660BT saves some room, and will pack a 6.1-inch capacitive touchscreen display. Both navigational units will also come with pre-loaded maps for not only the United States, but also Canada. They will also include USB ports on the back, so you will be able to connect your favorite iDevice. As well as multi-channel audio playback.

Both units will also offer TomTom’s IQ Routes, MapShare, six million POIs, and Advanced Lane Guidance, making sure you get to where you’re going safely. You’ll be able to get your hands on these navigational units come this November, and it will cost you $1,000 for the XNV-660BT and $1,300 for the XNV-770BT.

Press Release

Sony and TomTom Team Up to Deliver Premium In-Dash A/V Navigation Systems

Two New Models Feature Innovative Navigation Technologies, High-contrast Screens and More

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ — Sony today announced its first in-dash car navigation systems for the U.S. market, featuring technology powered by industry leader TomTom.

Designed to offer drivers the ultimate package of technology, innovation and style, the new XNV-770BT and XNV-660BT A/V navigation systems feature some of the most advanced car audio, video and navigational technologies in market today.

“TomTom’s expertise in navigation and our long-standing tradition of premium audio and video are strongly represented with these new in-dash systems,” said Mike Kahn, director of Sony’s mobile music business. “This unique partnership and exciting product offerings represent a huge step forward for Sony in the mobile electronics business.”

“We are delighted to work with Sony to deliver powerful, feature-rich navigation to their savvy consumers, ensuring a stress-free, enjoyable drive,” said Giles Shrimpton, managing director, TomTom Automotive. “Our joint innovations in this arena will incorporate flexible hardware design with standard interfaces that allow for easy updating in the future.”

Industry-Leading Navigation

Both of Sony’s new systems, the XNV-770BT (7-inch widescreen display) and XNV-660BT (6.1-inch widescreen display) come pre-loaded with TomTom’s extensive map database of both U.S. and Canada roads, with one free year of map upgrades provided at no incremental charge. In the U.S. alone, TomTom maps feature more than 1 million more miles of roads than other GPS brands.

Further, each system will take full advantage of several of TomTom’s advanced navigational technologies, including:

* IQ Routes™ evaluates all route options based on actual traffic speeds rather than posted speed limits, and will recommend the fastest route for the time of day.
* Advanced Lane Guidance™ provides enhanced lane graphics that show which lane to take in complex multi-lane situations.
* Quick GPSfix™ automatically updates satellite locations to get the driver on their way faster.
* MapShare™ from TomTom and its enormous navigation community enables drivers to correct their maps and benefit from changes made by other drivers via your computer and the free software TomTom HOME.
* More than 6 million points of interest including gas stations, restaurants, hotels, hospitals and more.

Premium Car Audio and Video

Each of Sony’s new A/V Navigation systems features a high quality WVGA display that offers one of the brightest and highest contract screens available in market today. The XNV-770BT model is a 7-inch, fully capacitive touch motorized panel display and the XNV-660BT model is a 6.1-inch capacitive touch with several hard keys such as volume and key menu buttons.

Both new A/V systems feature rear USB-1 wire connectivity for simple hookup to iPod®, iPhone® and other digital music players, full Bluetooth capability and a stylish graphical user interface (GUI) that includes large, easy-touch buttons. When listening to a connected device, the music playback screen will display all song metadata and album artwork.

On the audio front, the new XNV-660BT and XNV-770BT models feature multi-channel playback with Center Speaker Organizer (CSO), creating virtual 5.1 channel surround sound throughout the car. The advanced sound engine (ASE) ensures a high-quality, digitally enhanced sound experience and allows users to customize the in-car sound field to match their tastes. Further, Sony’s unique SensMe™ feature has the ability to automatically create custom music playlists and radio channels from a connected music library.

Both the new XNV-770BT and XNV-660BT A/V navigation systems will be available this November for about $1,300 and $1,000, respectively, at www.sonystyle.com, Sony Style retail stores and throughout the Sony authorized dealer network nationwide.


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30Sep/10Off

Sharp LC-52LB3 & LC-46LB3 AQUOS Quattron 3D LCD TVs Unveiled

For TV manufacturers, getting the best quality picture to the consumer is a top priority. For Sharp, they’ve tried to reach that goal by introducing TVs with the Quattron technology, which successfully adds a fourth color (yellow) to the standard Red, Green, Blue. The result is a sharper image, and better colors on the screen. The same technology is now going into their brand new LC-52-LB3 and LC-46LB3 AQUOS Quattron 3D LCD TVs, which were just announced by the company.

Sharp 3D HDTVs 580x256

Both sets have the same features. Their only difference is their size and pricing. Sharp managed to include a Blu-ray recorder, which they’ve built into the sets along the side. The Blu-ray recorder is 3D-capable. If you decide to drop your hard-earned cash down for the new 3D sets, you’ll be getting full HD resolution, and a contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1. You’ll also, obviously, get the Quattron technology, which should offer you a sharper, and more color-rich experience, for both 2D and 3D viewing.

You’ll find one USB port on the sets, and BDXL compatibility. The LCD TVs also feature LED backlighting. Sharp isn’t coming clean on when we should expect these two brand new Quattron series LCD TVs internationally, but they are launching in Japan on November 15th. If you’re in the area around that time and looking for a new TV, then be ready to drop roughly $5,050 for the 46-inch model, and $6,000 for the 52-inch version.

Press Release

Sharp Corporation will introduce into the Japanese market two models in the new LB Series of AQUOS Quattron 3D LCD TVs. The LCD panels in the LB Series (52V- and 46V-inch) use Sharp’s proprietary four-primary-color technology, and both models feature 3D-compatible Blu-ray Disc (BD) recorders.

The LCD panels in the LB Series use four-primary-color technology developed by Sharp based on its proprietary UV2A technology*2. This technology adds Y (yellow) to the three RGB (red, green, blue) primary colors and significantly improves light utilization efficiency to provide a brightness approximately 1.8 times greater*3 than conventional three-primary-color LCD panels, enabling users to enjoy vivid, impressive 2D and 3D images. In addition, these models are equipped with a new Quattron Pure Mode that automatically optimizes high-definition images to match the four-primary-color technology, resulting in smooth, natural reproduction of images from the built-in Blu-ray Disc recorder.

The built-in 3D-compatible Blu-ray Disc recorder enables viewers to enjoy Blu-ray 3D™ video using a single unit. Plus, these recorders are compatible with BDXL™*4, the new format for multi-layer recordable Blu-ray Discs, and can record up to approximately 87 hours*5 of high-definition TV programming in extended recording mode.

These models also offer functions for enhanced connectivity with peripheral devices such as digital cameras and mobile phones, and support wireless LAN adaptors.

Sharp will continue to expand its lineup of AQUOS Quattron LCD TVs featuring four-primary-color technology to meet the diverse needs of consumers.

Product name Terrestrial/BS/CS110° Digital High-Definition LCD TV
Nickname
Series name LB Series
Model name LC-52LB3 LC-46LB3
Dot count (H x V) Full high-definition (1,920 x 1,080)
Suggested retail price Open
Date of introduction in Japan November 15, 2010
Initial monthly production 5,000 units
Major Features

1. Four-primary-color technology faithfully renders colors to provide vivid, high-quality images.
2. Impressive 3D images with screen brightness approximately 1.8 times*3 higher than previous models.
3. Built-in Blu-ray Disc recorder compatible with Blu-ray 3D™ specifications.
4. Extended recording times of up to approximately 87 hours*5 for HD TV programming using new BDXL™*4 disc media.
5. ARSS*6 eight-speaker system integrates video and audio, plus Duo Bass low-vibration woofer.
6. Further expansion in the range of applications, including connectivity with digital cameras and mobile phones, plus support for wireless LAN adaptors (3D photographs taken using a digital camera can be sent wirelessly to the TV).
*1 Quattron is a combination of the word “quattro” meaning “four” in Italian, and the word “electron” in English. The use of four primary colors is a concept designed for LCDs, and differs from the conventional three-primary-color concept of light and color.
*2 Abbreviation of Ultraviolet induced multi-domain Vertical Alignment.
*3 Screen brightness when displaying 3D images compared to Sharp’s previous technology (three-primary-color Advanced Super View LCD without FRED technology).
*4 Specification defined by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) for high-capacity Blu-ray Discs.
*5 In 10X extended record mode using triple-layer Blu-ray Disc media. This level of performance for recording time is not guaranteed, and actual recording time may exceed or fall below the abovementioned time depending on the image quality of the video being recorded and other conditions. The stated recording time is typical and intended as a guideline only.
*6 Abbreviation of “Around Speaker System.” Audio technology in which speakers are arranged around the screen.


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30Sep/10Off

Ode to the Nano, V to the izzA

I was once stranded in Amsterdam for more than a week with my iPod nano and only 4 albums of music. I started the week at a Microsoft Mobius event, from which I got to visit Amsterdam coffeeshops with some fairly interesting and important people from Microsoft, Qualcomm and some of my other favorite tech blogs. After that event ended and most of my compatriots went home, I stuck around for a while to try to crash Nokia World, to which I was not actually invited or approved. In between, I had to wander the city and avoid getting into trouble.

ipod nano 580x407

I was using an ultraportable laptop at the time, and all of my music was kept on an external drive left behind at home. Because of a sync error the night before my trip, only one playlist was synchronized properly, and none of the rest of my library made the trip abroad. If I’m remembering correctly, the list included Radiohead’s “Kid A,” Saul Williams’ “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust,” M.I.A.’s “Kala” and Regina Spektor’s “Begin to Hope.” I listened to music a lot, all the time while riding the tram or walking the canals, but not while I was sitting in cafes, which play their own eclectic mix, or wandering through museums.

I had no iPod cable on me, and I wanted to avoid the Euro premium on buying a new one, so I decided not to charge my iPod. At the end of my 10-day trip, I was already tired of M.I.A. before her songs became sampled rap anthems, I had come to strange conclusions about Radiohead lyrics and autoerotic asphyxiation, and I still had plenty of juice left on my nano.

I loved that nano. I bought the iPod nano while I worked for the Apple Store, using the modest Apple employee discount. It lasted years until it was lost in a quick series of cross-country moves. I had owned an iPod mini before, and I liked the mini, but there is something so thin and so perfect about the form of the iPod nano, the two are more like cousins than long lost siblings.

When the fourth generation nano came out, returning to the long slim form factor from the short, stubby third generation, I bought one in purple. At the fifth generation, my Web site needed to replace a stolen iPod we used for testing, so I bought a nano with a video camera. When I left that site, I was happy to give the nano back.

The iPod nano has become a fascinating case study in Apple’s sometimes puzzling “If it ain’t broke, fix it” philosophy of product development. When the first nano was launched, it replaced the iPod mini, which was, at the time, the best selling MP3 player on the global market. Apple ditched the colorful mini for the black and white shell of the nano. It was a bold move, but it paid off. Of course, the transition to a much slimmer, smaller device based on solid state storage instead of a spinning hard disk drive was obvious. What came next? The strangest roller coaster ride in Apple’s iPod history.

Think about Apple’s product lineup. Apple moves remarkably slowly in its product designs. My current, 2010 Macbook Pro looks remarkably similar to the one I bought in 2003. Apple hasn’t changed its pro desktop in about as many years. Even the iMac stagnates for years. The iPod classic an obvious design successor to the original iPod. The iPod touch hasn’t changed its look in four generations. But there have been four different iPod nano designs in four years. For Apple, that’s a frenetic pace.

ipod nano 2

A couple weeks ago, before another trip to Europe (London, then Amsterdam again), I needed to replace my nano. My son, a toddler with a propensity for things that light up, had smashed it against the granite floors once too many times, though the nano put up a great fight. Lucky me, Apple had just released its newest iPod nano, the sixth generation touchscreen iPod, and I sprang at the excuse to buy one. There were a number of colors to choose from.

My first indication of trouble should have been the lack of purple.

After a couple weeks with the new iPod nano, I’ve come to realize the mistakes Apple has made with the iPod nano line. The iPod nano is a pure music player. At its best, that is what the nano does well. It stores music. It’s easy to find and organize your music, and maybe even discover some lost tracks. It’s simple to control on the fly, and it lasts forever. If an iPod nano does all of those things, for that alone we should be thankful.

Forget the video camera. The nano with the video camera was a stopgap until Apple figured out just how it wanted to play the iPod touch with a camera and FaceTime capabilities. It was never meant to last. The exercise features are great, like the pedometer and Nike+ support, but forget about using the accelerometer for stupid extras. If I bump my nano and it accidentally changes tracks, that’s a lousy feature.

Forget video playback and even photo viewing. All I care about is music, and I don’t even need much music on a nano. Just a week’s worth. 8GB of storage is enough, 16GB is plentiful. 8GB of storage is more than 111 hours of music. That’s enough for me. I don’t care about stuffing every song I own in my pocket, at least not on a simple business trip.

The new iPod nano is a nightmare. It looks cool, and that’s all it does well. At one event, I used it as a name tag. It was very geeky, and it caught a lot of attention. As a journalist, I like geeky, but I’m not interested in generating attention for myself, so I broke out the nano at parties only.

Want to skip tracks on the new nano? I skip around all the time depending on mood. On the new device, you have to unlock the screen. Oh, wait, is your nano turned upside down? You need to figure out which way to hold it so you can see the screen properly. If you have the clock set as a default screen, you have to swipe it aside. Finally, you get the music controls. That doesn’t sound like too much, but repeat that process every single time, and you’ll soon hate this little player. On the old nano, to skip tracks you just hit a button. You don’t even need to look at the player, the track wheel is easy to control without looking.

There was a time, a couple years ago, when tech journalists started asking each other if touchscreens were such an improvement. It seemed like every manufacturer was adding touch to their MP3 players, phones, laptops, etc, and calling it the next big thing. But touch doesn’t make a device better, it just adds a new input method.

The thing is, Apple’s old input method, the click wheel, was perfect. It was revolutionary. The click wheel and the small new hard disk drives were the two main factors in the original iPod’s success. It offered a lot of music and it was easy to control. The nano was the perfect embodiment of that philosophy. It was a great form, but it never got in the way of function. Is there a better compliment to industrial design than to say that it can disappear? The last generation iPod nano disappeared when you used it. The experience was all about the music, and the iPod only helped to get you there faster.

The new iPod nano is about showing off touch technology. Multi-touch on a 1.6-inch touchscreen? I can barely fit two fingers on the screen, let alone spread them apart for a multi-touch gesture. The interface is lousy. It slows down the process of finding and playing music. It forces you to look at the screen, to deliberate, and perhaps to enjoy the pretty icons and the rotating screen gesture.

The iPod nano is Apple’s hubris laid bare. It’s all about form, with almost no regard for function. It’s about adding the newest features, without asking whether those features are actually an improvement. It’s about making something thinner and smaller that was already thin and small enough. There’s a point of diminishing returns in the size of an object, where it starts to get more difficult to use as it gets smaller. The iPod nano is too small to use easily.

Oh, nano, how I miss you. I miss our transatlantic flights and sitting on a bench with you in Leidseplein, eating a croquette. I miss hearing you sing, without having to look at your bright and smiling face shining back every time I changed the tune. I miss your perfect shape, palm sized, but thin and sharp in the hand. You survived heat and cold, chewing and drops onto concrete, but eventually succumbed to an intense beating. I might try to find a refurbished iPod nano while they’re still available, but until then, at least I have my Zune.


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30Sep/10Off

HTC Spark Windows Phone 7 smartphone leaks

The HTC Spark has found its way into the wild, with a leaked batch of photos apparently showing the Windows Phone 7 handset turning up at xda-developers.  Not much to see that we haven’t already been shown, with a sizeable touchscreen, the usual three touch-sensitive buttons, and HTC’s own Hub on the homescreen.

htc spark leak 1 580x477

As for its official debut, we shouldn’t have long to wait.  Microsoft are holding an event in London, UK, on October 11th where – although the company itself hasn’t confirmed it – they’re expected to officially unveil the first batch of Windows Phone 7 devices.

[via WMPowerUser]


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30Sep/10Off

iPad fingered in mini-notebook decline

DisplaySearch's second-quarter study shows that tablets, and particularly Apple's iPad, are filling demand for small, portable devices larger than a smartphone.

Originally posted at Circuit Breaker

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30Sep/10Off

With a Little Work Android 2.2 Can Look Good on Tablets, Says TouchDown Exchange Developer

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A recent bit of news had Google expressly commenting that Android 2.2 wasn’t optimized for tablets, and the tech world immediately lost hope in currently announced tablets using that version of the OS and below. Instead the great Android tablet renaissance that was supposed to be coming this holiday season has been pushed back to early 2011 in anticipation of Android 3.0, an iteration of the OS that is being designed with slate devices in mind. Still, NitroDesk, developer of TouchDown Exchange for Android, is coming out saying despite what people have heard developing great looking apps for Android 2.2 tablets isn’t impossible.

big_calendar

We have seen it before in the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which gave a makeover to many core apps to properly take advantage of screen real estate. TouchDown has undergone the same tweaking, bringing about an app with split screen views to fill the entire large-resolution screen space. Here is what NitroDesk founder Goutham Sukumar had to say:

“Despite recent messages in the press about Android being not suitable for large screen devices, what we found is that the Android SDK is very capable of letting developers create applications which are optimized for tablet screens. While it is true that there are no separate controls for creating widgets like tree views and resizable splitters, it is quite possible to create applications which use the real estate effectively. It just requires some work on the developer’s part to get there.”

True, this is merely talking about the OS in terms of apps, and does point out that there are still quite a few limitations. But just like the iPad, regardless of the OS version on the tablet developers will always need to tweak their handheld apps to better fit screen real estate. NitroDesk will be showing off their new version of TouchDown next week at CTIA in San Francisco.

[via MobileBurn]

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30Sep/10Off

Samsung SCH-i400 Continuum Breaks Cover With two Displays, Galaxy S Branding

This image has no alt text

Looks like yet another Samsung handset will join the Samsung Fascinate (with the as-of-yet unannounced Gem not making any noise for a while) on Verizon as shots of a Samsung Continuum – model number SCH-i400 – have just been uploaded to the intrawebz. There are two very significant things about this device: it is a Galaxy S smartphone and it has two displays. One of the displays is your run of the mill OLED (we’re not sure if this is Super AMOLED) while there’s a second, smaller OLED display – being dubbed the “Ticker” – below the capacitive buttons that’ll show the date, time, notifications, and news and weather updates. (It’ll likely come from the same source that the daily briefing widget pulls its information from.)

samsung-continuum-itw-03-sm

There’s a dedicated camera button in tow and a side-loaded microSD card slot for easy access without yanking the battery, and a camera with LED flash on the back. No word on internals just yet, but if it’s Galaxy S branded, we expect it to come with a nice kick. We hope to learn more very soon.

[via Engadget]

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