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5May/11Off

L.A. Noire’s Rockstar Teams Up With L.A. Times For Interactive 1947 Crime Map

Rockstar Games is the company behind the notorious Grand Theft Auto and last year’s western shooter, Red Dead Redemption. But in less than two weeks, they will be unleashing a whole new crime solving game based in 1940s Los Angeles, called L.A. Noire. And leading up to that, they’ve teamed up with L.A. Times to release a interactive map of all the crimes that took place in 1947.

As research for the game, the developers Team Bondi did a lot of research on the crime-filled city of Los Angeles back in the day. An interesting thing they did was read through every single daily issue of the L.A. Times from January 1st though December 31st of 1947. They then decided it would be a fun idea to actually create a 1947 crime map that collects and maps out all the strange and extreme crimes committed during that year.

None of the real-life stories presented on the map will actually be in the game, but they certainly act as inspiration for the developers and give us a feel for what gritty crimes L.A. Noire may have in store for us. The game is set to release on May 17th in North America and on May 20th in Europe.

[via PlayStationLifeStyle]


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5May/11Off

IDC Report: Apple 2nd Place In Smartphones Worldwide

According to a new report from research firm IDC, the worldwide shipment of smartphones has increased almost 80 percent when comparing the first quarter of 2011 with the same quarter in 2010. Vendors have shipped a total of almost 100 million units in Q1 of this year, nearly double from 55 million units in the same quarter last year. And, now Apple sits in second place just behind Nokia on the list of top five smartphone vendors in the world.

Following after Nokia and Apple are RIM, Samsung, and HTC. The percentage growth among the top five smartphone vendors varies greatly. The market shares of both Nokia and RIM have dropped since the previous year, from 39 percent to 24 percent and from 19 percent to 14 percent, respectively.

The numbers indicate that the greatest growth occurred with Android-based smartphones. Both Samsung and HTC showed enormous growth of 350 percent and 230 percent, respectively. Apple’s growth of 114 percent still keeps the iOS platform ahead. But, the Android platform being open, will likely see greater growth and produce more market share fragmentation.

“The rise of Android as a prominent mobile operating system has allowed several suppliers to gain share quickly,” adds Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “Also, the relatively nascent state of smartphone adoption globally means there is ample room for several suppliers to comfortably co-exist, at least for the short term.”

[via BusinessWire]


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5May/11Off

AT&T Marketing ’4G’ But Delivering 3G Speeds?

Samsung just unveiled the Infuse 4G smartphone at a press event today and we’ve already gotten our hands-on it, with a review to come soon. The Infuse 4G is set to launch on AT&T’s network and is hailed as the first phone to support HSUPA and HSPA+ at launch. However, it follows a slew of other “4G” labeled devices on the network that have not been as fortunate.

The term 4G was originally defined by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union to describe 100Mbps mobile networks. But that definition has long been blown to oblivion since intense marketing brought the term to describe LTE, WiMAX, and HSPA+ networks. But now the term, according to AT&T’s recent marketing activities, seems to include even HSPA at speeds approaching what’s generally considered 3G.

According to Joanna Stern, the recently announced HP Veer 4G is clearly not at HSPA+ speeds. HP had initially released it as just the HP Veer, but AT&T went ahead and slapped on the 4G label, because well, apparently it just sounds good. According to its specs, the Veer supports Category 10 HSDPA and Category 6 HSUPA, which theoretically peak at 14.4Mbps downstream and 5.76Mbps upstream. These speeds are similar to what you get on the current 3G iPhones.

It’s no surprise that marketing would eventually make the label ’4G’ technically meaningless. But nonetheless its sure aggravating for customers that were promised 4G devices that would deliver HSPA+ but now have in their hands a device that only promises to have it sometime in the near future. This was certainly the case with the Motorola Atrix 4G and the HTC Inspire 4G. Both phones got complaints for capped speeds.

But remember back when AT&T first filed with the FCC their bid to purchase T-Mobile? They clearly admitted that they needed the acquisition because their current networks could not handle the onslaught of data traffic of new smartphones. It sure sounds like customers are paying for a service that’s not yet available. How’s your experience been with a 4G device on AT&T?

[via 9to5 Mac]


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5May/11Off

Clearwire shutters Rover “youth” WiMAX brand

Clearwire has confirmed that it is shuttering its Rover pre-pay brand, replacing it with its own no-contract plans. The company told FierceWireless that Rover was only ever “offered on a limited retail basis in a couple markets” and was seen as a way “to test some new pay-as-you-go pricing options.” There’s no word on whether the Rover Puck mobile hotspot will be made available as a CLEAR Spot.

That’s a shame, because back when we reviewed the Rover Puck we found it to be a decent little hotspot. Although there’s no 3G fall-back – which would have increased the price, since it would demand roaming off of Clearwire’s WiMAX network – you can share a connection with up to eight users simultaneously; most mobile hotspots limit that number to five.

In fact, Clearwire’s hotspot range is looking pretty barren right now, with only the CLEAR Spot 4G – from last year – currently available, and as a refurb at that. Sales of the Rover Puck (or its Rover Stick USB modem counterpart) have already halted. Clearwire announced its Q1 2011 financial results yesterday, with revenues up 142-percent from the previous year.


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5May/11Off

AT&T 4G: Not all HSPA+ Phones are Created Equal

At the Samsung/AT&T event today, the Samsung Infuse 4G was officially announced, and slated to be available May 15th. Our hands-on is here. It was also called the “first phone to support hspa+/hsupa at launch”. It has a dual antenna, just like the Motorola Atrix, but unlike the Atrix, it will have HSUPA enabled at launch. 4G comes in many different flavors, not all created equally. Read on for more details.

AT&T does 4G on its HSPA+ network, and has faced criticism since it didn’t have HSUPA enabled on the Atrix at launch, even though the capability was there. Even now, as AT&T has claimed that HSUPA is up and running, many have been disappointed in the upload speeds the Atrix is showing. And with the HTC Inspire 4G and Motorola Atrix 4G, AT&T has lowered the bar on “4G” to speeds of 14.4 Mbps. These same speeds can be seen on 3G devices, such as the iPhone 4.

Verizon has unquestionably been able to put up the fastest 4G speeds on its 4G LTE network, with the Thunderbolt, and now the Droid Charge. We will see as we do the full review of the Infuse 4G how its speeds stack up. We have high hopes for the Infuse, with its huge Super AMOLED screen, and super thin construction. But not all 4G flavors are created equally, and the proof will be in the speed tests.


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5May/11Off

Will Crysis 2 ever see DirectX 11

For those that don’t know much about Crysis 2, it is a futuristic first person shooter based in New York City. It is the highly popular sequel to the original Crysis that was released for PC only. For anyone that played it back when it was released the graphics were simply stunning. It brought my powerful quad core and my GTX 260 graphics card and computer to its knees real fast. Most gamers in the PC community were just as excited for Crysis 2 as I was, then we heard it would be launching across all 3 major platforms. This is where the DX11 discussion comes into play.

Obviously the Xbox 360 and PS3 are more than a few years old, and clearly do not support anything near DX11, or even DX10 for that matter. I’m not going to get into the dirty details regarding this, but clearly a game like Crysis 2 on consoles will present a challenge, and it did. There has been a lot of talk about DX11 for PC, why it was missing, and reports of it coming soon have been posted all the time since the game launched back on March 22nd. As things sit today we still do not have DX11 for Crysis 2. Other than the graphical changes to the CryEngine used in the game, it runs on the same DX9 that the original Crysis from 2008 did, and even Crysis had DX10 support unlike Crysis 2. So why the somewhat “downgrade” for the new big hit? Compatibility and development for consoles is the reason behind that.

According to stories like this one from Eurogamer, a DX11 patch was on its way and would be here soon, but that was very quickly put to rest by a few people from Crytek/EA. A spokesperson for publisher EA added “We have not made any official announcements about a patch yet.” That was back in March right after the game had launched and all the fanboys were still angry we didn’t have DX11 or any advanced graphic settings in game. Why does all this matter you might ask me? Below is two photos. The first is a screenshot of Crysis 2 on PC, the second on xbox. Clearly PC looks better, but for the superior hardware used on the PC (GTX 590) it should look a lot better.

In writing this I don’t want to get into the console vs PC argument or anything. Maybe PC users need to just relax and enjoy the game. When they all loved the original and were super excited for Crysis 2 and DX11 on Windows 7 they all upgraded their graphics cards, pre-ordered the game, and then the demo came out and there was DX9 only. Upon waiting for the actual game to come out they were only let down to see we didn’t have any advanced graphic options in game. Such as AA, filtering, bloom, shadow details and more. All of those were available to be adjusted on the original game but missing in Crysis 2.

This is all old news, I just felt like writing up a little information about it with the pictures above and maybe stir the DX11 pot some more. I can only imagine what Crysis 2 will look like on DX11, probably amazing. I do know the single player campaign is much longer than Homefront, so that is a plus.

Just in case anyone is worried, or missed it a Crytek employee posted on the development forum that a DX11 patch is in the works and is coming. We first heard about this here so that is good news. If it takes 2-3 months to release will it be too late? Or will gamers play it again with DX11 enabled? I know I would. Will they even release this patch? For now you can do some graphic tweaks and changes with an application that is floating around, get more details on that here. So what do you gamers think about this, are people making to big of a deal out of nothing? Or should we all have DX11 and graphic enhancements on a game released 3 years later than the original? Just thinking out loud.

[via PC Gamer]


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5May/11Off

Samsung INFUSE 4G Unboxing and hands-on

We’ve known Samsung’s Infuse 4G was coming to AT&T since CES 2011 back in January, but the vast 4.5-inch Android smartphone still has the power to surprise in the hand. Fresh from its official debut in New York today, the Infuse 4G has the biggest Super AMOLED Plus screen we’ve seen to-date, but still manages to be the carrier’s thinnest handset. Read on for our first impressions.

The display and the slimline chassis are the two most obvious elements, and indeed the Infuse 4G is a combination of several well-esteemed Samsung devices of recent weeks. Just as on the Galaxy S II and DROID Charge, the Super AMOLED Plus – with its 50-percent extra sub-pixels – is eye-searingly bright, color saturated and clear. It may not run at qHD resolution but its WVGA is crisp and smooth.

Physical design is much in line with the Galaxy S II, a narrow slice of handset with only a slight lip on the bottom rear edge to spoil the lines. It’s plastic, but the build is sturdy and creak-free. Gone is the GSII’s physical Home button, to make room for an all-touch row of four Android keys – menu, home, back and search – while up next to the earpiece is a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

Unfortunately the Infuse 4G runs Android 2.2 out of the box – complete with TouchWiz – so there’s no Gtalk video call support to actually take advantage of that camera. We’ll have to wait for Samsung and AT&T to upgrade the smartphone to Android 2.4 before we can end our reliance on third-party video calling apps like Qik and Fring.

The 1.2GHz Hummingbird processor may not be the dual-core of the GSII but it’s still enough to keep Froyo moving swiftly. Android looks impressive blown up to 4.5-inches, though we can imagine the Infuse 4G will be too big for many users. We’ll have to wait to see how well AT&T’s HSPA+ network performs when we have more time with a review unit; previously we’ve not been as impressed as with Verizon’s LTE, though both carriers are pumping investment into boosting speed.

In all, we can’t really argue that Samsung isn’t on a roll right now. The Galaxy S II is a masterful flagship, the DROID Charge managed to skirt the line between LTE performance and reasonable battery life, and now the AT&T Infuse 4G is offering its own combination of that unique Super AMOLED Plus screen quality paired with a super-thin build. We’ll have to put it through its paces in a full SlashGear review to be sure it’s top-quality, of course, so for now enjoy the hands-on gallery from today’s launch and we’ll have video very soon!

Samsung INFUSE 4G unboxing and quick hands-on

DALLAS, May 5, 2011 — AT&T* and Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile), the No. 1 mobile phone provider in the U.S., today announced the upcoming availability of the Samsung Infuse™ 4G.

Key Facts
• Exclusive to AT&T customers, the Samsung Infuse 4G will be the nation’s thinnest 4G smartphone at 8.99mm at its thinnest.
• Delivers the largest display in AT&T’s smartphone portfolio with a brilliant 4.5-inch screen featuring next-generation Super AMOLED™ Plus technology.
• Powered by a 1.2 GHz processor and the Android™ 2.2 platform, the Samsung Infuse 4G also boasts an 8-megapixel camera, and a $25 credit to download movie content from Samsung Media Hub.
• Pre-loaded version of Angry Birds features an exclusive hidden level for Infuse 4G customers.
• Samsung Infuse 4G will be available in AT&T company-owned stores and online at www.wireless.att.com on May 15 and will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract and no mail-in rebate. (Minimum $15 data plan required)

Customer Benefits
The Samsung Infuse 4G will be the thinnest 4G smartphone available in the U.S. and will feature the largest screen — at 4.5 inches — in AT&T’s smartphone lineup, and the largest touch screen on any Samsung phone. Powered by a 1.2 GHz application processor and running the Android 2.2 platform, the device delivers a brilliant display using Samsung’s next-generation Super AMOLED™ Plus technology which features 50 percent more sub-pixels for better contrast. The display also offers unmatched outdoor viewing quality, even in the brightest sunlight.

With the Infuse 4G, Samsung and AT&T are raising the stakes on pre-loaded content that is not available on any other device. In collaboration with Rovio, the Infuse 4G will feature a special edition of Angry Birds pre-loaded on the smartphone. Players can unlock a special “Golden Egg” level of the game, and once the special level is completed, users can register to win Samsung prizes exclusive to Infuse 4G users.**

The smartphone also includes an 8-megapixel camera/camcorder with auto-focus and flash that shoots HD video with incredible detail. A front facing camera is perfect for self portraits or video chat. Customers can also watch hit movies and TV shows from preloaded apps like Samsung Media Hub, U-verse Mobile and U-verse Live TV.

The first 500,000 Infuse 4G units sold will include a $25 voucher for consumers to get started on downloading content from Media Hub. With Media Hub’s progressive downloading feature, users can start watching their content almost immediately as the rest of the file downloads to the Infuse 4G. Plus, all Media Hub content can be shared among five Media Hub-enabled devices on the same account. The Infuse 4G also comes with a 2GB microSD card with preloaded trailers for upcoming summer movies.

Compatible with the Infuse 4G and other devices on the Android 2.2 platform or better, AT&T has also launched a new, fun app called JustUs. The app combines both social media and text activity from five favorite contacts into an animated wallpaper, keeping users better connected with those that matter most. Customers can download the app for free in Android Market today.

Quotes
“The 4.5-inch screen on Infuse 4G is enhanced further with Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus technology. Colors are rich and bright, even while outdoors in sunlight,” said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president, Devices, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “When you juxtapose that with the fact that it’s the thinnest 4G smartphone out there today, it’s an incredibly compelling choice for our customers.”

“When you combine the powerful 1.2 GHz application processor with AT&T’s advanced 4G network, this device will truly be the fastest smartphone Samsung has ever created with AT&T,” said Omar Khan, chief technology officer & chief product officer for Samsung Mobile. “The Infuse 4G is our latest example of Samsung’s global leadership in Android platform smartphones. With every Android smartphone that we launch, we’re bringing something new and exciting to the market.”

Smartphone Portfolio
AT&T is a pioneer in smartphones and devices and expects to widen its portfolio in 2011. In January, AT&T committed to introducing 20 4G devices and 12 additional Android devices by the end of the year. Samsung Infuse 4G will be one of several new 4G devices that have been offered to AT&T customers in the first half of 2011.

Samsung Infuse 4G Accessories
To prepare for the arrival of the Samsung Infuse 4G in AT&T stores, the company has prepared a robust lineup of 14 fashionable and functional accessories including multiple case options, a vehicle mount and desk mount. All accessories are available in AT&T company-owned stores and online at www.wireless.att.com. For more details on the lineup visit www.att.com/mobilephones-news.

Key Specifications
• Android™ 2.2 platform
• 4G: HSDPA CAT 14 and HSUPA CAT 6
• 8.9 mm to 9.24mm thin
• UMTS 850/1900/2100
• GSM 850/900/1800/1900
• 1.2 GHz processor
• 4.5-inch Super AMOLED™ Plus screen
• 8-megapixel camera with HD 720p video camera and 1.3-megapixel front facing camera
• Virtual QWERTY keyboard
• Expandable memory up to 32GB with microSD card
• Text/Picture and Video Messaging support
• Samsung Media Hub, U-verse Mobile, U-verse Live TV, and Angry Birds

To learn more about the Samsung Infuse™ 4G, visit www.att.com/mobilephones-news, www.att.com/infuse4G or www.samsung.com/mobile.


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5May/11Off

Data Security Expert: Sony Knew It Was Using Outdated Software Before PSN Breach

Sony versus hackers continues and the company may now be more hot water based on revelations from the latest testimony to Congress on Wednesday. A data security expert from Purdue University, Dr. Gene Spafford told Congress that security experts knew Sony was still using outdated versions of the Apache Web server software, which did not have a firewall installed.

“My personal conclusion from reviews of reports in the press and discussions at professional meetings is that operators of these systems… continue to run outmoded, flawed software, fail to follow some basic good practices of security and privacy, and often have insufficient training or support,” said Spafford in his testimony.

Sony’s network had been attacked by hacker group Anonymous shortly after the company tried to prosecute George Hotz, who notoriously hacked the PS3. Despite Sony’s recent response to the House of Representatives, Anonymous has denied involvement in the recent PlayStation Network breach, which may have compromised the personal and credit card data of its over 70 million subscribers.

[via VentureBeat]


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5May/11Off

Sprint Users: Are You Having Issues With Your Google Voice Integration?

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It was only a few days ago that Sprint’s Integration with Google Voice went live and was available for all Sprint customers. Well, its been a few days since then and Engadget is reporting that some Sprint users are having some major technical issues. Some of the many problems include activating their mobile number onto to their Google Voice account, completely crippled Google Voice accounts, people you call granted access to your voicemail, and other general weirdness.

What seems to be really setting these people off is a complete lack of tech support from Sprint, who is sending affected users over to the Google Voice Forum where there is nary a soul in sight to actually help anyone with their questions (as so often is the case with Google services).

I’ve noticed a lot of these problems stem from someone porting their mobile numbers over to Google Voice and then trying to undo it for whatever reasons. So definitely think hard before you dive head first into into Google’s Voice integration with your Sprint account. Attempting to go back could open a whole new can of worms.

I personally haven’t had any of these specific issues after porting my mobile number over to Google Voice account but there was definitely some work involved in getting everything setup correctly as far as Google Voice settings go. Because of this, I’m definitely not going to be announcing this integration over Facebook for fear that my “noob” friends and family will encounter all kinds of problems.

As we like to do so often here at Phandroid, we would like to hear from you guys. Have any of you Sprint users experienced any hiccups associated with porting your mobile number over to Google Voice? And if you haven’t yet taken advantage of the new service, are all these problems making you think twice about taking the plunge?

[Via Engadet]


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5May/11Off

Notes on the Samsung Infuse 4G: App Sideloading on AT&T, 21Mbps Data Speeds

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Although much of the attention is place on the big and beautiful 4.5-inch screen of the Samsung Infuse 4G, don’t forget the “4G” part of the name. Though AT&T has released other “4G” handsets — the Motorola Atrix and HTC Inspire — the Infuse is the first to be specced at HSDPA Category 14, making it the first of the lineup capable of 21Mbps data speeds. The Atrix and Inspire with HDSPA Category 10 are capped at 14.4Mbps. In case you were wondering, the Infuse carries HSUPA Category 6, capable of 5.76Mbps upload speeds.

The Infuse 4G is also responsible for another first: it is the first Android handset on AT&T to support app installs from third-party sources. Rather than locking down the Infuse and keeping users relegated to the Android Market, AT&T has once again enabled the ability to toggle apps from unknown sources in the settings menu. Fingers crossed this doesn’t somehow change before the May 15th launch date of the phone.

[via Engadget, Android Central]


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