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29Apr/11Off

Twitter Gets Hit With Class-Action Law Suit Over Unwanted Text Messages


Lawyers seem very trigger happy lately with class-action cases—well, when are they not?—with lawsuits recently filed against Apple and Google for location tracking, to Sony for the PlayStation Network breach, and to now a bizarre case against Twitter. Two Californian residents, Drew Moss and Sahar Maleksaeedi are suing Twitter for sending unwanted text messages.

Moss and Maleksaeedi claim that Twitter sent them confirmation text messages after they sent text messages with the command ‘STOP’ to turn off all phone notifications. They claim that Twitter is engaging in unlawful conduct by contacting them via SMS without their consent. They say that this is not only an invasion of their privacy but a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

The duo further claim that the automated confirmation messages sent back to them after they requested to stop receiving messages resulted in additional charges to their mobile service plans. They are seeking up to $1,500 in damages for each alleged violation. If aggregated as a class-action suit in the tens of thousands, it could exceed $5 million.

Part of the filed document reads:

At some point Plaintiffs decided that they no longer wanted to receive text message notifications on their cellular telephone from Defendant.

Plaintiffs then responded to Defendant’s last text message notification by replying “stop,” as instructed by Twitter.

At this point, Plaintiffs withdrew any express or implied consent to receive text message notification to their cellular telephone that they may have previous given Twitter.

In response to receiving this revocation of consent, Defendant then immediately sent another, unsolicited, confirmatory text message to Plaintiffs’ cellular telephones.

[via TechCrunch]


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29Apr/11Off

Samsung Profits Drop, Saved Only By Smartphones And Tablets

Samsung reported a 30 percent drop to $2.6 billion in their Q1 2011 profits when compared to the same quarter last year. The Korean electronics manufacturer blames the dip on falling chip prices and slowing display sales. What’s kept going strong, is there smartphone sales, including its Galaxy S series, which have jumped 18 percent from the previous year.

According to recent NPD report, Samsung takes the lead in the U.S. smartphone market with a 23 percent market share, followed by LG and then Apple. Samsung’s semiconductor division that supplies tablet components and other devices is also doing well with a 70 percent increase. However, despite the success in smartphones and tablet components, Samsung gives a cautious forecast:

We forecast that the challenging business conditions will persist in the second quarter, effected by lingering worries over the global economy and tight competition in consumer electronics and mobile businesses

Samsung is also in the midst of a legal battle with Apple. Despite being Apple’s major components supplier, Samsung has been slapped with a patent suit from Apple saying that their Galaxy series smartphones and tablets intentionally copy the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad. Samsung has fought back with its own patent suit, and adding one more just recently.

With Samsung’s other divisions, such as its LCD panels, TVs, and PC components, failing to perform, it will be important that they protect their smartphone and tablet division with the onslaught of rivals while battling Apple over patents.

[via MobileDia]


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29Apr/11Off

PlayStation Network And Qriocity Services Questions And Answers

Sony’s PlayStation Network breach saga continues, having left customers without PSN service for over a week and now with possibly compromised credit card information. Sony claims the credit card information is encrypted, but that doesn’t stop claims that the hackers have gotten to it and already offering it up for sale. There are surely many many questions PSN users have for Sony, and in response they have posted a Q&A list yesterday and one more today.

The questions answered yesterday focused on the security concerns regarding customers’ personal information and credit card data. Sony assured that they are working with law enforcement on the matter and insisted that all personal and credit card data was encrypted. However, they did note that although they have no current evidence to suggest that the encrypted credit card information was taken, they also cannot rule out the possibility.

The second batch of questions and answers posted today address some of the less threatening issues such as whether certain game data and history will be lost. On that front, Sony assures that no game trophies will be lost and that they will be re-synced when the network comes back on. Histories and friends lists also will remain intact. Sony is also evaluating a “goodwill gesture” for its PSN users to show its appreciation for their extraordinary patience.

For the full list of questions and answers, you can visit Q&A#1 and Q&A#2.

[via PlayStation Blog]


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29Apr/11Off

NASA scrubs Endeavour launch over power unit problems

Looks like all that LEGO isn’t going into space after all, at least not today. NASA has announced that it has scrubbed today’s Space Shuttle Endeavour launch”because of an issue associated with Auxiliary Power Unit 1 heaters.” Engineers will assess the issue, but NASA warns that the process will take at least 48-hours and likely more.

According to NASA Spaceflight, the APU issue is only the latest in a number of issues to plague the shuttle on this, its final flight. Issues observed during fuel tank filing and problems with the fuel cells were observed, together with pressure issues in the right tank.

NASA had been working on interconnecting the crossfeed lines between the two tanks, so as to try to equalize the pressure, when the APU problem was caught and the launch cancelled. NASA intends to hold a press conference later today to further detail the scrapped flight.


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29Apr/11Off

Lenovo IdeaPad S205 with AMD E350 Fusion APU on sale now

Lenovo’s IdeaPad S205 has begun shipping, offering an 11.6-inch ultraportable with AMD’s dual-core 1.6GHz E350 Fusion CPU and Radeon HD 6310 graphics. Announced all the way back in January, the S205 is priced from $499 with 3GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB 5,400rpm hard-drive and 6-cell battery.

$579 gets you 4GB of DDR3 memory and a 500GB hard-drive, while $599 steps up to a 750GB hard-drive. All of the SKUs have WiFi b/g/n along with Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, HDMI, USB 2.0 and a multi-format memory card reader; the $599 model throws in Bluetooth 2.1+EDR as well.

There’s also a 1.3-megapixel webcam and optional 3G. Follow the link to our friends over at Logicbuy, meanwhile, and you can save a $70 on the entry-level S205 and get it for just $429 with free shipping.


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29Apr/11Off

Samsung “Alex” Chrome OS netbook revealed

The Chrome OS leaks keep coming, with the Acer ZGB netbook and Seaboard tablet being followed by details of Samsung’s offering with Google’s new platform. The Samsung “Alex” is a 1280 x 800 netbook powered by Intel’s dual-core Atom N550 1.5GHz processor, along with a SanDisk SSD P4 and Qualcomm Gobi 2000 3G WWAN connectivity.

Other specs include 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth and WiFi, an integrated webcam and a Synaptics touchpad. That differs a little from Acer’s model, which has a 1366 x 768 display and seemingly uses one of AMD’s Fusion processors instead.

Samsung, Acer and ASUS are all among the company’s namechecked to be producing Chrome OS hardware for launch in the second half of 2011. However it seems likely that Google will do some sort of presentation of the latest hardware and software at Google I/O early next month.

[via Engadget]


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29Apr/11Off

HTC Wildfire S Review

Expectations around the HTC Wildfire S are, a little surprisingly, high. The third of HTC’s new Android devices from MWC 2011 in February, the entry-level smartphone replaces the Wildfire, a device which managed to carve itself quite the niche among pre-pay users and the budget or bulk conscious. Now the S-variant comes to further refine the lineage: we’re a long way from the Tattoo, but has HTC done enough to keep the Wildfire S relevant today? Check out the full SlashGear review after the cut.

Hardware

As HTC found with the Tattoo, making a budget device is arguably far harder than making a new flagship. While the company could throw the latest kit at the HTC Sensation’s spec sheet and then attach a price to match, the Wildfire S has to be cheap enough to lure those considering a first-time upgrade from increasingly capable featurephones. Meanwhile, with smartphones getting more powerful all the time, it also had to ensure the handset could keep up with the latest in apps: no point in having a “smart” device if it plays dumb when it comes to running half of what’s in the Android Market.

The result is a 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor, a faster and more refined update to the Wildfire’s 528MHz MSM7225, paired with 512MB of RAM (up from 384MB) and 512MB of ROM. More noticeable, perhaps, is the better display: a 3.2-inch HVGA 320 x 480 panel versus the QVGA 240 x 320 of the old phone. Unfortunately you can still easily make out the individual pixels, but it’s a considerable improvement nonetheless.

On the back is a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash, while inside there’s WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, dualband HSPA/WCDMA (900/2100) and quadband GSM/EDGE. There’s also the usual g-sensor, digital compass and proximity/ambient light sensors, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microUSB port, as well as a microSD card slot under the battery cover. An LED indicator hides behind the speaker grill.

HTC Wildfire S overview:

It’s a better constructed, more handsome device than before, as well as being a little smaller and lighter at 3.99 x 2.34 x 0.49 inches and 3.7 oz. The family resemblance to the Desire S is unmistakable, with the Wildfire S looking like a palm-scale mini-me handset in comparison. The slight chin has lost the optical trackpad of before but keeps the four touch-sensitive buttons; unlike the Desire S there’s no front-facing camera above the screen. Rather than HTC’s unibody style, the whole back panel is a single piece of plastic. It feels sturdy, though obviously not as “premium” in the hand as the Desire S, but we’re more disappointed by the somewhat sharp edges; the ridge around the edge is a design choice rather than poor fit, but we’d prefer smoother sides. At least the volume and power/lock buttons don’t follow in the diminutive theme, being large and easy to press.

Software and Performance

Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread is HTC’s OS of choice for the Wildfire S, with the familiar widgety goodness of HTC Sense 2.1 layered on top. There’s HTCSense.com integration, too, so that you can remotely access content on your phone, track its location, lock it and more. The HTC Hub download store is also present, and WiFi Hotspot functionality to turn the Wildfire S into a 3G MiFi.

The UI scales well on the compact display, and we had no problems with the touchscreen recognizing our taps on the smaller icons or on-screen keyboard. Unfortunately the pixel shortage does mean there’s more zooming to be done if you want to read webpages: whereas we could make out legible words at the default zoom level when viewing SlashGear on the Desire S, we had to zoom in closer to do the same on the Wildfire S.

Performance is reasonable, though this isn’t the handset for speed-freaks. The browser rendered the SlashGear homepage more slowly than side-by-side with a Desire S (both on the same WiFi network) while apps load with less haste. Gmail messages can take a couple of seconds or more to open, and rendering in Google Maps is noticeably slower than on other recent Android devices, and while there’s Flash Player 10.2 support this isn’t the phone to tackle anything more than the odd animation.

Raw benchmarks help tell the story, with the Wildfire S scoring a conservative 756 in Quadrant Pro – better than the original HTC Desire, but short of the Samsung Galaxy S – and 7.272 MFLOPS in Linpack Pro. JavaScript testing tool SunSpider regularly crashed the Wildfire S’ browser, proving unable to complete its benchmarking.

Camera

The camera app is carried over from HTC’s other recent Sense devices, though with a couple of tweaks. Since there’s no front-facing lens, you get an automatic self-portrait mode that waits until it spots a face and then gives you a beeping countdown to shape your mouth into as close a smile as you can manage. With no mirror on the back, though, it’s tricky to line things up without resorting to trial-and-error.

Regular photography is better, and the camera app loads and is ready to shoot surprisingly quickly. Expect sub-5s from tapping the homescreen shortcut to shutter release. There are a handful of manual settings, including ISO, white balance, flash mode, sharpness, saturation, contrast and exposure, though we found the menu for the latter four was unusually slow open. HTC’s regular array of effects – including sepia, negative and solarize – are present, each with real-time previews.

The end results are average at best. On a fairly overcast day, colors proved dull and, like the hue of our test unit, unusually purple-tinted. The crisp limes, power blues and reds in the scene below come through muted and uninspiring in the Wildfire S’ photo. Close-ups are better, with some decent detail, though we wouldn’t suggest anybody should replace their point-and-shoot with the HTC.

Video can be shot at up to 640 x 480 VGA resolution – no 720p HD here – and the ensuring footage is jerky and with the same flat colors as photos. Sound pickup is good. Of course there’s no HDMI output – it would be wasted, frankly – but you do get easy one-touch upload to YouTube.

Phone and Battery

Small it may be, but the Wildfire S did a good job grabbing and keeping hold of a signal for voice calls. The earpiece is clear and ramps up to a decent volume, while the speakerphone performance also belies the HTC’s scale. There’s no fancy noise cancellation or dual-microphone processing, but we had no complaints from callers.

HTC quotes up to 350 minutes 3G talktime (430 minutes GSM) or up to 570 hours 3G standby (360 hours GSM) from the 1230 mAh battery (down 70 mAh on the Wildfire’s). In practice, you’ll get a solid day out of the Wildfire S, likely more. That’s probably in no small part down to the display, which is obviously less demanding than a bigger screen, but we also found ourselves using the phone less than with other, larger handsets. Browsing on the 3.2-inch panel is workable, certainly, but less enjoyable than on, say, a Desire S.

Price and Value

Price is obviously a key obsession for HTC in building the Wildfire S, and it has resulted in a comparatively cheap smartphone. On contract in the UK, the Wildfire S is offered “free” on a new, two year £20 ($33) per month agreement; that’s the same as the original Wildfire was offered. SIM-free and unlocked, and the Wildfire S comes in at around £240 ($400) with tax.

That’s cheap for a new phone, though price-conscious buyers should also consider that they can pick up the original HTC Desire – with a bigger screen, faster processor and HD video recording, among other advantages – for free on an £18.50 ($31) per month. A Samsung Galaxy S is free for the same £20 per month. As with the original Wildfire, the competition isn’t so much today’s new smartphones but yesterday’s; still, in most cases, excellent devices, simply superseded by even higher-specified models.

Wrap-Up

Back in our original Wildfire review, we concluded by praising the phone but saying we’d still opt for an HTC Legend. That didn’t seem to stop the Wildfire from selling well nonetheless, helped no doubt by a strong carrier push. The HTC Wildfire S has a similar balance to make: it may be new but its specs aren’t, and it may be cheap but other smartphones match it, older perhaps but, thanks to aiming higher in the first place, still outclassing it on paper at least.

In daily use, the off-the-boil performance is less of an issue. HTC isn’t positioning the Wildfire S at the advanced Android hacking crowd, for whom CPU potency is a key element in squeezing out the very last drop from their phone. Instead the target is a more average user, and for them there’s plenty of appeal in the combination of compact form-factor and the allure of a handset fresh to the market. Although smartphones with huge displays – like the 4.3-inch panels we’ve seen on the Galaxy S II, Sensation and others – are popular with some, others prefer more pocketable devices, and the Wildfire S certainly fits into that niche.

Those users are less likely to be concerned whether the Wildfire S’ low-end processor will scupper its chances for further Android updates, or indeed whether it will run the increasingly system-intensive games we’re seeing arrive on the platform. As a gateway drug into HTC’s compelling combination of local apps and cloud services, however, it makes good sense, and while most SlashGear readers will probably find more to their liking with the Incredible S or Sensation, their less cellularly-obsessed friends and family may well discover the HTC Wildfire S does everything they need.


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29Apr/11Off

HTC Inspire 4G Update Going Out Now, Enables HSUPA Support

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Following right behind the HSUPA-enabling update for the Motorola Atrix 4G, the HTC Inspire 4G is receiving its update to alleviate data speed caps. The update is being pushed to AT&T subscribers over-the-air, but for the impatient out there HTC’s support page recommends doing the old check for updates trick by selecting the AT&T Software Update option under the settings menu.

The update also includes enhancements for email including auto-configuration for Hotmail, Live and MSN email and an improved email setup process. AT&T said the update would come in April and they got it in by the skin of their teeth. That counts for something, right?

[via HTC, Thanks all who sent this in!]


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29Apr/11Off

LG Ally to Receive Android 2.2.2, Will Require Update Utility App

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The LG Ally is about to receive an update to Android 2.2.2, according to a text message being sent to owners of the handset. While the update itself is mostly concerned with patching a few holes and squashing some bugs, the interesting thing to report is that in order to receive the update users will need to download the Upgrade Utility for Ally from the Android Market. There is no word on why, exactly, an application is needed to install the update, as the move from Android 2.1 to 2.2 came via a traditional over-the-air push.

Users who have installed the app so far are reporting no update is available yet, but Verizon has posted the details of what we can expect over at their support site. Head over to the source links below for more info.

Android Market Link: Upgrade Utility for Ally

[Verizon via AndroidForums]


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29Apr/11Off

Revue Not Bringing Home the Expected Bacon, Logitech Still Enthusiastic about Google TV

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Aside from some clever commercials starring Kevin Bacon, that is. The Logitech Revue missed earning expectations last quarter, falling short of the projected $18 million after earning $22 million in its first quarter of availability. The drop-off was quite significant, bringing in a mere $5 million for the company.

It’s no secret that the Google TV platform has some things to figure out, but we have been and still are big supporters of the concept, taking both the good and bad into account. Likewise, Logitech doesn’t plan to give up on the platform any time soon. Their CEO Gerald P. Quindlen stated during the quarterly earning report that the company remains “enthusiastic about Google TV.”

For others to agree, Google needs to step its game up and deliver highly anticipated features such as the Android Market. The ability to download and install Android apps onto your Google TV box has been promised in a  future update for some time now, though when that update might surface remains a mystery.

[via CrunchGear]


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