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15Nov/10Off

iTunes event mystery: What is Apple planning?

Apple ratchets up expectations by mysteriously promising that tomorrow will bring an iTunes announcement and be a day "we'll never forget."

Originally posted at Circuit Breaker

Filed under: Mac Comments Off
15Nov/10Off

Comcast iPad app launches for DVR control

Comcast launches long-awaited iPad app that allows customers to browse listings, set their DVRs to record shows, and much more.

Originally posted at The Digital Home

Filed under: Mac Comments Off
15Nov/10Off

‘Unforgettable’ iTunes announcement tomorrow

Apple is advertising an "exciting announcement" at 7 a.m. PT concerning iTunes that it claims will make Tuesday a day that you will never forget.

Originally posted at MacFixIt

Filed under: Mac Comments Off
15Nov/10Off

Sony Ericsson’s LiveView Accessory Now Available in Europe

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Sony Ericsson’s wrist watch turned ultimate update machine – being dubbed LiveView – is now available in Europe just as promised. It’s being offered for about 59 Euros in France, 49 pounds in the UK, and about 42 Euros in Germany, we’re hearing. LiveView links itself up to your Android phone to pull down the updates that matter to you as it sits comfortably atop your wrist as if it were a watch itself. (And it is a watch, too, for what it’s worth.)

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At first glance, many questioned the worth of this little thing, and I won’t lie and say I didn’t, but I’ve grown to want one over time. Think of it as Samsung’s “Ticker” on the Continuum except it’s compatible with nearly Android phone released to date and it’s actually more useful on your wrist than an extra screen is on the actual phone. Yep, that about sums it up. See if you can hunt one of these down throughout Europe.

[via EuroDroid]

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15Nov/10Off

Rhapsody for Android Update Adds Offline Playback

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Rhapsody’s just announced that their application for Android has been updated to allow subscribers to download and listen to their playlists offline. This move matches one Napster made just a month ago and will make them that much more competitive up against other big names currently offering their digital music wares in the Android market. Rhapsody now offers over 10.6 million songs, and with today’s update, it’d be hard to not consider their service at $9.99.  If you’re a subscriber and have been waiting for this feature, make no delay in getting the app from the Android market by scanning or touching the QR code below. You can also search the Android market for “Rhapsody.” Those of you who aren’t subscribed but still want to check it out, you can sign up for a free trial at Rhapsody’s site today. Full press details straight ahead.

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Android Users Can Now Take Rhapsody to Outer Space!

…Or anywhere else: Rhapsody launched its app for Android, featuring offline playback of downloaded tracks—no network required

SEATTLE—November 15, 2010—Android users can now take their Rhapsody subscriptions anywhere, regardless of whether they have a network connection.  Today, the premium, on-demand digital music service announced the launch of its new Android 2.0 application featuring offline playback, now available for download in the Android Market.

With the new app, Rhapsody subscribers with mobile devices running the Android operating system can download tracks and playlists and make them available anywhere—no network required.

“We believe all the music you could ever want should be at your fingertips at all times,” said Brendan Benzing, chief product officer, Rhapsody. “The ability to download music to your favorite device mimics the experience millions of consumers have enjoyed on MP3 players for years, which makes the subscription model even more attractive to them.  The Rhapsody app transforms an Android to an MP3 player on steroids; beefed up with Rhapsody’s extensive catalog of more than 10.6 million tracks.”

The Rhapsody app is also available on BlackBerry devices and iPhones.  Offline playback is currently offered on the Rhapsody iPhone app, which features simple, one-click album downloads.

To download the Rhapsody app simply point your phone’s browser to www.rhapsody.com and download today.  Its also available directly at iTunes App store, Android Market and now, GetJar.

Rhapsody subscribers have access to a library of 10.6 million tracks from the PC, mobile device, TV and connected home audio systems, as well as music editorial and programming from some of the most renowned music writers anywhere, for $9.99 per month–less than the cost of one CD or most downloaded albums. Visit www.rhapsody.com/plans for more information.

About Rhapsody
The Rhapsody® digital music service (www.rhapsody.com) gives subscribers unlimited on-demand access to more than ten million songs, whether they’re listening on a PC, laptop, Internet connected home stereo or TV, MP3 player or mobile phone. Rhapsody allows subscribers to access their music through more touch-points than any other digital music service, including mobile phones from Verizon Wireless, through Rhapsody applications on the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, RIM BlackBerry and Android mobile platform as well as through devices from Vizio, SanDisk, HP, Sonos and Philips. Rhapsody, and the Rhapsody logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Rhapsody International Inc.

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15Nov/10Off

Playboy Scout Helps You Find Local Nightlife Deals

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Android’s getting just a tad bit kinkier as Playboy and Xtify have announced the launch of Playboy Scout, an app that will help you find the best spots for your nightlife needs and will deliver deals to your phone from places close to you using Xtify’s geolocation platform. Unfortunately, the service only supports those who do their late night bidding in New York City and Los Angeles, but they’ve apparently committed to launching in more cities throughout 2011.  Find it in the Android market now by searching “Playboy Scout” or by touching/scanning the QR code below.

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[via IntoMobile]

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15Nov/10Off

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words… and a $5 Footlong Thanks to FaceCash

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The developers behind an app called FaceCash have just announced that you can use it to pay for meals at Subway. Intrigued by the prospect of using my face to buy a nice turkey club, I wanted to learn more about this payment system. Apparently, FaceCash allows you to pay for items – such as a $5 footlong – without the traditional methods of writing a check, swiping a card, or throwing down some cold, hard cash. Instead, you use a picture of your face on your phone for verification purposes that the merchant will use to identify you. I’m trying to imagine the countless applicable scenarios, but I just can’t find myself getting excited for this, and I don’t see it taking off as much as FaceCash would hope.

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Nabbing a nationwide food chain like Subway is a great first step toward building the platform, but is this unorthodox method of paying cash really more convenient than carrying around a piece of plastic that barely adds any weight at all? It doesn’t help that it’s only available at select subways in California, for the time being. We hope they gain some traction and grab the attention of many other partners, but for now, this one’s looking to be another throwaway. [via AG]

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15Nov/10Off

Maylong Universe: $100 Android Tablet Unboxing & Hands-On [VIDEO]

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The Maylong M-150 Universe is a 7-inch Android Tablet that I purchased from Walgreens.com. Yup… that’s right: a 7-inch Android Tablet that I purchased from Walgreen’s and only for $100. Obviously for $100 and without any type of contract, you would assume you’re getting a total hunk of steaming bot grease- but after an initial toying with the Maylong Universe I was pleasantly surprised.

Let’s get some of the obviously bad stuff out of the way:

  • It runs Android 1.6
  • It has a resistive and not capacitive screen. You CAN use your fingers but the tablet works much better with the stylus that comes in the box
  • It does NOT have Android Market but instead a custom market developed by Maylong so the selection is pretty small
  • It doesn’t have much built in memory so you’ll need to insert a MicroSD card to do anything significant from a media, apps and games standpoint

That being said, my first thoughts of the Maylong Universe were that for only $100 and no strings attached, this thing is impressive. It might not be something I would suggest people buy, but it definitely speaks volumes about the ability for companies to leverage Android in creating ultra-affordable products that more than meet the needs of customers.

One huge downfall here is the lack of Android Market and I would be curious to know the process and licensing issues a company faces when trying to incorporate Android Market into their product. With Android Market, the Maylong Universe would instantly skyrocket in value.

One app I really liked was their built-in eBook reader. The features of it were scarce but it allowed you to download out-of-circulation books and the 7-inch form is a great size for reading.

I don’t want to go TOO in-depth because I’ll probably pursue a more full review of this device after I’ve had a lengthier experience and can provide a more complete opinion.

One thing that did bother/irritate me is that the screen of the device was already scratched and knicked up in a number of ways before I even opened the box. That’s pretty poor, and I’m guessing it’s from testing they’ve done with the stylus. Or maybe they’re just reboxing units that have been in development for quite awhile? Either way I was disappointed in that.

We’ll be giving away one of these Maylong Universe tablets as part of tomorrow’s Phan Giveaway so stay tuned and make sure to get your comment ready for entering!

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15Nov/10Off

Verizon Galaxy Tab Review

You can’t accuse Samsung of lacking ambition with their recent mobile device launches. After pushing out versions of the Galaxy S across all the major US carriers, they’re doing the same with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. We’ve already looked at the original European and T-Mobile USA versions of the 7-inch Froyo slate; now it’s the Verizon Wireless model on the SlashGear test bench. Read on for the full review.

Hardware

Compared to the European and T-Mobile versions of the Galaxy Tab which we’ve already reviewed, the Verizon model marks the most significant hardware changes. Even then, they’re relatively minor, though enough to boost the Verizon Tab into pole position when it comes to everyday use.

Out goes the UMTS/WCDMA modem, replaced by a CDMA/EVDO Rev.A modem for data and messaging use on Verizon’s network. The relative benefits of CDMA and GSM service are well-argued; most important is whether your carrier of choice has coverage in the areas you’ll be looking to use the Tab. We’ve not noticed any specific differences in data performance between the T-Mobile and Verizon Tabs.

Unfortunately, it does somewhat limit the Galaxy Tab’s mobility, since the Verizon version isn’t one of the carrier’s “Global” devices with both CDMA and UMTS/WCDMA connectivity for use abroad. Worth bearing in mind if you’re looking to the Tab as a netbook replacement for European travel. It’s also not voice enabled, like the other North American models but unlike the European Galaxy Tab. We’ve already seen a hack to enable voice functionality on the T-Mobile Tab – which requires a different SIM to the data-only card the carrier provides – but unlocking voice calls on the Verizon version may be trickier. So far we don’t know which modem has been included, and enabling the functionality will also depend on convincing Verizon customer support to activate voice service on the line.

The better changes, however, are in the Tab’s physical design. The hardware is still ostensibly the same – a 7.48 x 4.74 x 0.47 inch slate weighing 13.58 ounces – but Verizon has given their Tab a more textured back-panel which left us more confident gripping the tablet. The regular Galaxy Tab’s gloss finish is surprisingly slippery. We also added a couple of self-adhesive textured pads, on the left and right of the tablet, which made a significant difference.

Otherwise, the Verizon Galaxy Tab uses the same 7-inch 1024 x 600 LCD TFT display with a capacitive touchscreen, 1GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor, microSD card slot, 3-megapixel rear camera with autofocus and LED flash, and 1.3-megapixel front-facing webcam. Connectivity includes 3G, WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0, along with a PDMI port for charging and synchronizing; unfortunately there’s no microUSB port. For full details on the Galaxy Tab’s hardware, check out our original review.

Software

The overall Galaxy Tab experience is pretty much the same as from the original European version that we tested; rather than retread old ground, we’ll point you in the direction of that original review. As with T-Mobile, Verizon has attempted to differentiate its Galaxy Tab using various preloaded applications. Unfortunately, the one app we’d like to have seen – the carrier’s custom Skype software – is missing; you can download the regular Skype app from the Android Market, but that only allows WiFi VoIP calls in the US, whereas the custom app supports 3G calls. It seems Verizon really isn’t keen on Galaxy Tab users replacing their existing phones with the Froyo slate, though Google Voice runs over 3G and works well.

What you do get is VZ Navigator, V CAST Music and V CAST APPS, the latter being Verizon’s own app store. That joins the Galaxy Tab’s regular Android Market access, together with Samsung’s own (sparsely filled) software download store. There’s a demo of the V CAST APPS store in the video above, along with V CAST MUSIC ($9.99 per month); the latter is certainly easier to use than Samsung’s own Media Hub app, which currently has a relatively limited selection of audio and video to download. So far Apple still has the upper hand when it comes to on-device media downloads, though Verizon loading Blockbuster On Demand and Slacker Radio do fill in the gaps a little, if you prefer streaming content.

VZ Navigator works well on the large screen, though for most people Google Maps Navigator will be sufficient (and has the benefit of being free versus VZ Navigator’s $9.99 per month subscription). The integrated digital compass supports Street View panning, which is an eye-catching way to show off the Tab’s abilities. ThinkFree Office is also loaded, complete with a PDF viewer, and Verizon has changed Samsung’s custom on-screen keyboard to a (very similar) layout of their own. You still get Swype as an option, however.

The grippier casing comes into its own when you’re using the Galaxy Tab for ebook reading, and indeed Verizon preinstall Amazon’s Kindle app which works well on the 7-inch display. At 1024 x 600 across a smaller panel than the iPad’s 1024 x 768 resolution, the Samsung actually has a higher pixel density; that adds up to crisper text. The Tab is also light enough to comfortably hold one-handed above your head, such as when lying in bed, whereas the metal and glass iPad soon gets tiring.

Verizon’s Galaxy Tab isn’t cheap – it’s $599.99 with no subsidy option – but you’re also not getting locked into a minimum agreement. There are two month-to-month data plans on offer, priced at $20 for 1GB of data per month, or $35 for 3GB. That’s cheaper than T-Mobile’s data options, but does not include their unlimited messaging; instead you can pay per SMS/MMS message sent/received, or for a bundle (250 messages for $5; 500 messages for $10; or 5000 messages for $20 per month). There’s no extra charge for using Froyo’s mobile hotspot functionality, either, letting you share the Galaxy Tab’s 3G connection with up to five WiFi-connected devices, though their data use still comes out of your allowance.

Wrap-Up

It’s ironic but, for all Verizon’s work on custom apps, it’s the textured casing that makes the biggest difference to day to day use of their Galaxy Tab. A slightly more reassuring in-hand feel left us feeling far happier grabbing the Tab and using it for casual reading; of course, that’s something which a silicon case could address on other versions of the slate, or indeed some self-adhesive pads as we applied.

The same Galaxy Tab frustrations still remain from the T-Mobile version, the lack of official voice support being top of our list. We’re a little less confident in hacks for the Verizon version opening that up, however, though VoIP support remains good. Verizon could score a significant win over its carrier rivals by allowing the Skype 3G app for use on the Tab; it seems, however, that the fear of users downsizing to a single device is too great for that to happen.

Data costs are less than T-Mobile charges – albeit for 2GB less on the more expensive plan – though if you’re a frequent text message user the bundle fees will likely outweigh any difference. Unlike T-Mobile’s $399.99 Tab with a two-year agreement, Verizon isn’t offering any subsidy; that makes the $599.99 slate more expensive upfront, but cheaper in the long-term and with more flexibility in opting for mobile data. Unfortunately managing a data plan on the Verizon Tab isn’t quite as straightforward as on the iPad WiFi + 3G with its AT&T control panel.

The longer we spend with the Galaxy Tab, the more we find ourselves using it. That, perhaps, is the definition of a companion device – something which gradually works its way into your daily life, becoming your go-to gadget for ereader, browsing or messaging. It’s still a relatively narrow niche, and there’s undoubtedly plenty of competition from Apple’s iPad, but if Google’s is your OS of choice, the Samsung Galaxy Tab remains the best 7-inch Android tablet around.

Verizon Galaxy Tab unboxing & hands-on:

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15Nov/10Off

Lenovo IdeaPad U260 12.5-inch ultraportable on sale today

Lenovo’s IdeaPad U260 has evolved from tempting leak to official product, and is hitting virtual shelves today. Priced from $899, the 12.5-inch U260 is yet to show up on the company’s webstore, but when it does it will have a choice of Intel’s 1.33GHz Core i3-380UM or 1.33GHz to 1.86GHz Core i5-470UM processors, an unspecified Core i7 option up to 4GB of DDR3 memory and a standard 320GB 5,400rpm hard-drive (or 128GB SSD).

That’s all slotted into a distinctive, journal-styled casing made from magnesium-aluminum alloy, with a leather-patterned palm rest and glass touchpad. The display runs at 1366 x 768 with Intel HD graphics, and there are stereo 1W speakers, WiFi b/g/n, gigabit ethernet and Bluetooth as standard. Other ports include two USB 2.0, audio in/out, VGA and HDMI.

We’re not quite sure what Lenovo’s “Breathable Keyboard” is for – perhaps it gives you that brilliant feeling of typing on lungs – but the 3.04lb U260 otherwise seems quite an interesting MacBook Air alternative. It’s set to go on sale sometime today.

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[via Notebooks]

Press Release:

Uncompromising Luxury You Can Touch: Lenovo’s U-niquely Designed IdeaPad U260 is the World’s First 12.5-Inch Ultraportable Laptop

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – November 15, 2010: Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) today announced the IdeaPad U260, the world’s first 12.5-inch ultraportable consumer laptop, giving users a 16:9 widescreen dimension in a 12-inch form factor for the first time. This latest addition to the IdeaPad U Series is all about luxury featuring a sleek, minimalistic design that includes a magnesium-aluminum alloy real metal cover, leather-patterned palm rest and glass touchpad.

The IdeaPad U260 is high fashion in laptop form. Designed for consumers who enjoy a sophisticated sense of style, the U260 highlights premium details and craftsmanship that can be touched. Inspired by the silhouette of a classic leather-bound journal, the U260 exudes elegance with a “U” shaped outline and a specially engineered one-piece magnesium-aluminum alloy frame, making it stronger yet thinner and lighter. The exterior cover, which boasts a one-piece design without any breaks in the pattern, is made possible by the latest insert- molding injection technology.

Its black leather-patterned palm rest is soft to the touch providing comfort and support for the user while giving a luxurious look. The stainless steel frame around the chiclet keyboard is the perfect complement to the leather-textured exterior. A durable, yet silky smooth glass touchpad with matte exterior etching gives just the right resistance for multi-touch functionality such as pinch-to-zoom photo browsing and web surfing. The U260 is available in mocha brown or clementine orange for those seeking a “pop” in their PC wardrobe.

“The U260 is a design one can truly touch and feel that showcases the extreme attention our team places in every aspect of design, from mechanical to human interaction to color, material and finish,” said Yingjia Yao, vice president, Innovation Design Center, Lenovo. “Our philosophy is that Idea product design should be simple, unique and provide value, and the IdeaPad U260 delivers just that through the high-quality selection of materials, advanced ergonomics and a signature design concept.”

Perfect for those who love to travel or executives who enjoy a classy laptop away from the office, the IdeaPad U260 is the right choice weighing in at less than three pounds and measuring just over a half-inch thin. The U260 is ergonomically designed with sleek curves, proportions and hinge mechanics for maximum comfort as it can be easily opened with one hand. Users will also enjoy standing out in a crowd with their uniquely designed, world’s first 12.5-inch laptop powered by up to an Intel® Core™ i7 processor for impressive performance and long battery life. The U260 can be configured with up to 320GB of hard drive storage or up to 128GB of SSD flash-based storage providing plenty of room for music, photos and movies. With up to 4GB of DDR3 memory, consumers can enjoy a seamless multimedia experience when browsing multiple web pages and using applications.

“The IdeaPad U260 is a luxury laptop for someone with discerning tastes that desires high quality and elegance paired with the freedom of immense mobility,” said Dion Weisler, vice president, Business Operations, Lenovo. “This is one of numerous additions to the Idea portfolio, manifesting Lenovo’s fun and fashionable PC consumer offerings, which are not only sophisticated but brimming with features. The U260 fits in seamlessly with today’s ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle without sacrificing excellence for style.”

Additional features on the U260 include an industry leading Breathable Keyboard, an Intel® Advanced Cooling Technology that allows the PC to run cooler and maintain spill resistance.  Ambient Light Sensors on the U260 help protect users’ eyes by automatically adjusting screen brightness based on lighting conditions and Lenovo’s Active Protection System™ acts as an “airbag” for the hard drive to cushion data stored on the laptop in the event of a fall or drop. Those seeking entertainment and multimedia functionality will enjoy the U260’s Dolby® Advanced Audio™ surround sound speakers, HDMI output for streaming high definition to an HDTV and an integrated web camera for Skype and video calling.

The U260 comes with Genuine Microsoft Windows® 7 Home Basic or Premium and Lenovo Enhanced Experience for Windows 7, a unique Lenovo certification that delivers speedy boot-up and shutdown times, rich multimedia capabilities and easy system maintenance tools.

Pricing and Availability

The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 laptop will be available November 15, 2010 on lenovo.com starting at $899.

For the latest Lenovo news, subscribe to Lenovo RSS feeds or follow Lenovo on Twitter and Facebook.


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