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23Feb/120

Samsung announces the rugged Rugby Smart, coming to AT&T March 4

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Just a few days after the first images of the phone leaked online, Samsung has officially announced their rugged Rugby Smart handset. The mid-range Android 2.3 handset features a 3.7-inch display, 5MP camera, and 4GB of internal storage and is military spec 810f compliant. The phone can take a dunk under 1m of water for up to 30 minutes, is dustproof, and is capable of withstanding temperature extremes. The Rugby Smart is being touted as 4G, but it isn’t of the LTE variety. The handset is coming to AT&T’s HSPA+ network on March 4th at a price of $99.99 on a two-year contract.

SAMSUNG & AT&T DELIVER BRAINS AND BRAWN

Waterproof and Dustproof Samsung Rugby® Smart Available Starting March 4

DALLAS, February 23, 2012 --

Key Facts

· On March 4, AT&T* will begin selling the Samsung Rugby® Smart in company-owned retail stores and online. The smartphone will be sold for $99.99 with a two-year commitment and monthly minimum data plan.

· Samsung Rugby® Smart is dustproof, can be submerged in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes, and can withstand extreme temperatures.**

· Runs on Android™ 2.3 with 4G capabilities and boasts a virtual QWERTY keyboard, 3.7-inch Super AMOLED™ touchscreen display, 5MP camera and an integrated flashlight.

Samsung Rugby® Smart

The Samsung Rugby® Smart is a rugged, dustproof device designed to handle the elements with water resistance (submergible up to 1m for 30 minutes) and built to mil-std 810f military spec standards**.The Android 2.3 smartphone features a 3.7-inch WVGA Super AMOLED touchscreen display and a 5MP camera with HD video recording***. It also supports 4G service, Wi-Fi®, corporate email and the full line of media including location, music and social networking services. From the work site to the camp site and beyond, Rugby Smart fulfills all your smartphone needs with the physical strength to handle whatever life throws at it.

Specifications

· Technology: GSM, EDGE, UMTS, HSPA+

· Operating System: Android 2.3

· Display: 3.7-inch WVGA Super AMOLED display

· External Memory: Supports up to 32GB via microSD™

· Internal Memory: 4GB

· Dimensions: 122.4mm x 65.9mm x 12.19mm

· Weight: 4.2 oz

· Camera: 5MP rear facing with flash and auto focus with HD 720p video capture; 1.3 MP front facing camera;

· Battery: 1650 mAh LiIon Poly

· Talk Time: Up to 8 hours

· Standby Time: Up to 16 days

Quotes

"The Samsung Rugby Smart is perfect for active customers who need another level of durability with their smartphone," said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president, Devices, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "It is water and dustproof and has all the features of a leading smartphone."

"We continue to bring the highest quality devices - the Rugby Smart is the ultimate smartphone to withstand extreme conditions," said Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Mobile. "AT&T customers are now able to stay connected with a durable smartphone while experiencing even the roughest environment."


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23Feb/120

HTC One X press photo leaks

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With HTC still a few days away from announcing their new smartphone lineup for 2012 there is still plenty of time to get a few more leaks in. The latest comes in the form of a promotional render of the upcoming HTC One X. You may recognize the phone from an early leak (back when it was still going by codenames HTC Edge and Endeavor), but our latest look has all the touches of a handset ready for its debut at Mobile World Congress. Note the location on the weather widget.

The only noticeable difference from initial renders of the One X is the parsing down of Android soft keys from the four of yesterday to the more Ice Cream Sandwich appropriate three (with multitasking key). We also peep Sense 4.0 one more time. If you were hoping HTC would give a fresh look to their latest offerings, it doesn’t look like they attempted to reinvent the wheel. Unibody styling and typical HTC accents look to continue into 2012.

[via PocketNow]


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23Feb/120

AT&T Rugby Smart delivers ruggedization for $100

AT&T and Samsung have taken the wraps off of their latest Android smartphone, the Rugby Smart, a $99.99 ruggedized handset that can handle 30 minutes of submersion in up to a meter of water. Hitting shelves on March 4, the Samsung Rugby Smart is also dustproof, shockproof and temperature-resilient, meeting US Mil-STD 810F specifications, with a 3.7-inch WVGA Super AMOLED touchscreen and 5-megapixel camera.

It’s a UMTS/HSPA+ handset, rather than LTE, and you get Android 2.3 Gingerbread rather than Ice Cream Sandwich. Internal storage is 4GB, with a microSD card slot to add to that, and the 5-megapixel camera can shoot 720p HD not 1080p Full HD video. You do at least get a 1.3-megapixel front camera so that you can video call people while paddling in the ocean.

Samsung reckons you’ll see up to 8hrs talktime from the 1,650 mAh battery, or up to 16 days standby, and the whole device is a sturdy 122.4 x 65.9 x 12.19 mm, 4.2 oz package. AT&T is unsurprisingly targeting those on building sites or the like, though if you’re an extreme sports fan you might want a phone that can stand a few knocks too.

The AT&T Samsung Rugby Smart will go on sale March 4, priced at $99.99 with a new, two-year agreement.

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AT&T Rugby Smart delivers ruggedization for $100 is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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23Feb/120

Google Glasses wow geeks

Google‘s Android-based digital glasses will offer a near-iPhone 4S resolution floating interface for users, sources claim, though opinion remains divided over whether the wearable computer is realistic, useful or even safe. According to a Geek source, the Google Glasses will use a pair of micro LCD displays bouncing a combined 960 x 540 resolution image off two small angled surfaces integrated into the lenses, for the impression of a large screen floating in front of your face. That will be used for gaming, navigation and more.

The two patches of angled glass will be less than a dime in size, while the arms of the glasses will need to accommodate twin 1.5 x 1.5 inch blocks where the LCD display hardware is mounted. Obviously there will also be the necessary processor and other components, along with GPS and motion sensors, a camera, microphone and audio outputs; there’s also believed to be cellular connectivity baked in.

The NYTimes claims Google isn’t expecting users to wear the glasses permanently, only donning them occasionally in a similar manner to periodic smartphone use. The front-facing camera will track hand and arm gestures and translate them into controls of the Android-based software environment. According to the newspaper’s sources, who have seen the Google Glasses but are not officially allowed to discuss them, the search company will particularly push location-based services, overlaying augmented reality information onto a real-world view by analyzing the scene ahead of the user with its cloud computers.

“A person looking at a landmark could see detailed historical information and comments about it left by friends” it’s suggested, while “the glasses could remind a wearer of when and how he met the vaguely familiar person standing in front of him at a party” if facial-recognition systems are up to the task.

Perhaps more ominously – though unsurprising, given Google’s focus – advertising is expected to play a role in all this. The company is said to be considering how it can deploy location-based adverts to users, perhaps customizing real-world ads with user-specific messages overlaid.

Still, there are concerns that the Google Glasses will result in greater eye-strain as people face computer displays more frequently, along with fears about privacy as Google tracks users and targets its adverts more specifically. Less serious, perhaps, but more obvious is the social impact of gesture-controlling a computer nobody else around you can see: think of the “Is he talking to himself?” nature of Bluetooth headsets, and multiple it exponentially. On a purely practical level, if Google doesn’t expect users to sport the glasses throughout the day, those already wearing prescription eyewear will end up having to carry two sets of specs.

Google is tipped to be readying a prototype of the Google Glasses for Google I/O in June this year, though any subsequent release is said to be small-scale, at least initially. It’s also unclear whether the target price of $250 to $600 – roughly in line with a smartphone – is realistic.

Google Glasses wow geeks is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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23Feb/120

Philips HMP2000 Review

Smart TV is gaining traction, but not everybody wants to upgrade every set in their house just to add native streaming support for Netflix and similar services. Philips believes it has the answer with the HMP2000, a compact Netflix adapter that also promises YouTube, Facebook and local media access for under £50 ($79). Is this the Roku rival we’ve been waiting for? Check out the full review after the cut.

Hardware

Small and simple, the HMP2000 has roughly the same footprint as the Apple TV but an angled rather than flat top. Connectivity is limited to just an HDMI port, a power input and a full-sized USB 2.0; inside there’s WiFi, but you don’t get an option for wired ethernet or alternative audio-out routes.

Philips includes a compact remote control with playback keys, a navigation pad and a dedicated Netflix shortcut. It’s functional, but the buttons feel cheap and overly clicky. Unfortunately there’s no HDMI cable in the box, which comes across as miserly.

Setup and Interface

With so few ports, once you’ve plugged in the mains and dug out a spare HDMI cable, you’re pretty much sorted for physical setup. Power on, and after a brief boot delay you land on the main menu, with options for Netflix, YouTube, USB, Internet Services and Setup. It’s possible to play USB media without having a WiFi network connected, but if you choose any of the other options you’re prompted to connect.

After punching in our WiFi passcode by navigating around an onscreen keyboard, we were up and running. The HMP2000 can store three different network profiles, useful if you connect to multiple WiFi connections, and once you’re online the Netflix and YouTube icons on the homescreen go from monochrome to color. You also get a weather icon up in the top right corner, showing the current forecast.

Choose Netflix, and you’re prompted to set up a new account or log in with your current one. The UI is the usual multi-lines of side-scrolling thumbnails; there’s Facebook integration for suggestions from your friends, along with a list of your recently viewed titles and all Netflix’s customary predictions. You can rate shows and search the catalog, though one frustrating UI hiccup is the behavior of the back button, which always wants to throw you right back to the HMP2000′s homescreen rather than stepping back a page in Netflix. Luckly there’s a pop-up “Are you sure you want to quit” warning first.

YouTube has a pared-down UI, starting playing instantly from a playlist of current content. Pressing up or down on the arrow keys allows you to search through videos, see other clips in the current playlist, or change categories. It’s functional but punching in search terms can get laborious.

Internet Services is where you find the weather app – if you don’t tell it your location, the weather icon on the homescreen assumes you’re in San Francisco – for multi-day forecasts, together with Facebook and Picasa access. Facebook support is more akin to a basic phone experience rather than, say, the advanced iPad app, though it’s enough in a pinch to see what your friends are saying. Picasa supports searching and browsing through galleries, together with automatic slideshow playback.

Finally, there’s USB media access, plugging in a thumb-drive or external HDD to access content stored on there. Philips’ list of supported media types is vast – MPEG 1/2/4 (MPEG 4 Part 2), H.264, VC-1, H.263, VP6 (640 x 480), DivX Plus HD, DivX 3/4/5/6, Xvid, RMVB 8/9/10, RM, WMV (V9), AVI, TS, M2TS, TP, TRP, ISO, VOB, DAT, MP4, MPEG, MPG, MOV(MPEG 4, H.264), ASF, FLV (640 x 480), MKV, M4V – and we had no problem playing a ripped DVD as well as various MPG and AVI clips we’d downloaded. You can also play music and photos stored on external drives.

Performance

Streaming performance will obviously depend largely on the speed of your broadband connection, but we had no problems with lag or audio/video sync when accessing Netflix. YouTube, too, was smooth and judder free.

One minor frustration was a moment’s delay in playing Netflix content, with the loading screen hanging around for two seconds or so when the show itself had already begun playing. No great issue if you’re at the start, when you’re unlikely to miss anything but a channel indent, but maybe more annoying if you’re resuming playback midway through.

As with other Netflix boxes, you can fast-forward and rewind through shows with thumbnail previews, though there was some lag before those previews actually populated.

Pricing and Value

The HMP2000 is £50 ($79) in the UK, the same price as the Roku LT and Roku 2 XS. Unfortunately, Philips is positioning the HMP2000 pretty much solely as a Netflix streamer: there’s no iPlayer or 4oD access, unless those channels’ content is available through Netflix itself, and none of the extra channels Roku owners can add to their boxes, such as Crackle UK.

Wrap-Up

There’s plenty to like about the Philips HMP2000: setup is straightforward, navigation is user-friendly, and it does what it promises without fuss. The potentially limiting factor is how onboard you are with streaming services, since if you harbor ambitions to use anything other than Netflix and YouTube you’re basically out of luck.

On the flip-side, if you’re looking to add Netflix support to an existing catalog of local content, the HMP2000′s ability to play HD files from external storage is something Roku’s boxes won’t do. On that front, the Philips is a success, but we think there’s still space for an even cheaper, Netflix-only version that drops the USB.

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Philips HMP2000 Review is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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23Feb/120

HTC One X prematurely pictured

HTC’s One X smartphone has been pictured in press-shot form, days ahead of the Android quad-core’s official debut expected to take place at MWC 2012, and complete with dedicated Ice Cream Sandwich control buttons. The handset, previously known as the HTC Edge and Endeavor, is expected to run Android 4.0 and Sense 4.0 on NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quadcore, according to the rumor machine, and thanks to Pocketnow‘s leaked image we can get a glimpse of the presumably final hardware wrapped around those specs.

Up front is believed to be a sizable 4.7-inch touchscreen, running at 720p HD resolution, while we’re expecting an 8-megapixel camera on the back with 1080p Full HD video recording. There’s clearly a front-facing camera too, while the ICS controls for back, home and task-switching that, on the Galaxy Nexus, are rendered in software, get dedicated touch-sensitive buttons on the One X.

It’s unclear what material HTC has opted to use for the One X. The black handset could be plastic, or it could follow in the footsteps of previous unibody HTC devices and be constructed out of metal. That could lead to a hefty handset, given the scale involved, but we’re unlikely to know for sure until we go hands-on next week.

HTC’s press conference is on Sunday in Barcelona, so there’s not long to wait. Still, plenty of time for shots of the HTC One S (aka the HTC Ville) and HTC One V to beat Peter Chou to the big reveal. Join us on Sunday when SlashGear heads to Mobile World Congress to bring you back all the details!

[via Android Community]

HTC One X prematurely pictured is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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23Feb/120

Apple Mastered for iTunes pushes quality

Apple has quietly launched Mastered for iTunes, a push to deliver music “exactly as the artists and sound engineers intend it to be heard”, though the company maintains that iTunes Plus 256kbps AAC files are still sufficient rather than lossless. In an updated guide to sound engineers and others involved in producing music for digital distribution, Apple outlines the new “Master for iTunes droplet” which can be used to create high-quality iTunes Plus files from AIFF or WAVE masters.

“The Droplet creates an AAC audio file from an AIFF or WAVE source file by first generating a CAF (Core Audio File) rendered with an iTunes sound check profile applied to the file. If the sample rate of the source file is greater than 44.1 kHz, it’s downsampled to 44.1 kHz using our mastering-quality SRC. Next, it uses this newly rendered CAF to render a high quality AAC audio file. Once the final AAC audio file is generated, the intermediary CAF is deleted” Apple Mastered for iTunes guide

According to Apple, the droplet is the same tool that its own engineers use to create audio files for iTunes. The rest of the company’s technical brief [pdf link] covers the final checks, tests and tweaks that can be undertaken to make sure music is of its best possible quality.

“Because iTunes Plus is a highly portable format, its files have the potential to be listened to in a wide range of different settings. So while one listener may be using white earbuds while riding in a loud subway car, another may wind up listening intently to a Bach cantata on AirPlay‐equipped Bowers and Wilkins speakers or on a similarly equipped Denon receiver in a home media room. Just as likely, a college student may be deep into Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain while sporting Dre Beats headphones in the campus library. Keep in mind that Apple has sold more than 250 million iOS devices, and that many, many people around the world are listening to music on their iPods, iPhones, or iPads” Apple

The promise for the end user is a better standard of audio quality, of course, with Apple looking to corner the market in top-spec tracks. There’s also an advantage to polishing compressed tracks rather than going straight to lossless, uncompressed ones: they’re smaller files for Apple to host, and require shorter download times, handy given Apple will be distributing them not only at the point of purchase but when streaming via iCloud.

[via Twitter]

Apple Mastered for iTunes pushes quality is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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23Feb/120

Scosche backStage pro II iPad 2 car mount now available

If you spend a lot of time in the backseat of a car for any reason or if you have kids that ride in the backseat and like to use your iPad, you may be like me and worry they’ll drop it if you have to stop suddenly. Scosche showed off an interesting iPad 2 mount that during CES that was specifically designed to hold your iPad 2 safely and securely in the car. The holder is called the backStage pro II.

The case is designed to hold the iPad securely and it fastens to the little bars underneath the headrests on the front seats. If your car doesn’t have the type of headrests with a button that allows you to adjust their height, this device won’t work for you. Scosche claims that the holder will stay attached your car in the event of an accident.

It is made from rugged aluminum and keeps the iPad within reach, assuming your backseats aren’t really far from the front seats, the holder can be used safely and securely while driving. This would be an awesome holder for road trips with kids if you have the 3G version of the iPad 2 since you could let them watch streaming Netflix or other content while you drive. The holder is available right now for $149.99 and there is a version for the original iPad as well.

Scosche backStage pro II iPad 2 car mount now available is written by Shane McGlaun & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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23Feb/120

T-Mobile USA’s Challenger Strategy begins with 4G struggle

T-Mobile USA isn’t just planning an LTE network, it’s “making amazing 4G services affordable” the carrier claims, as part of its “Challenger Strategy” to claw back subscribers from its rivals. Having blamed the lure of the iPhone 4S for stealing contract customers away in Q4 2011, T-Mobile USA now faces the perhaps tricky task of developing two networks it calls “4G” – HSPA+ and LTE – without leaving customers confused.

“We want to be known for delivering the best value in wireless because of the advanced technology we deliver at an affordable price” Philipp Humm, CEO and President of T-Mobile USA, said in a statement today. “Over the next two years, we’re prioritizing and investing in initiatives designed to get T-Mobile back to growth in the years ahead — beginning with the transformation of our network.”

That network has long used the 4G nomenclature for a service that experts might not call 4G at all. Like AT&T, T-Mobile branded HSPA+ as 4G so that it could market itself as competitive with LTE from Verizon and others. Now, with the chunk of AWS spectrum AT&T was forced to hand over after the collapse of its acquisition plans, T-Mobile finally has the room to build out LTE of its own.

That won’t happen until 2013, however, with HSPA+ still seeing significant investment before then. 37,000 cell sites will get new hardware to improve HSPA+ bandwidth, with a total of $1.4bn in network investment over the next two years. LTE, though, will be provided in the “vast majority” of the top 50 markets, with 20MHz service for 75-percent of the top 25 markets. There’ll need to be some spectrum juggling first, though, T-Mobile retiring some 2G coverage so that it can “refarm” to accommodate LTE.

“As data usage and smartphone adoption accelerate, fewer customers are utilizing 2G services. This enables T-Mobile to refarm existing spectrum holdings, reducing the amount of 1900 MHz PCS spectrum being used for GSM; to deploy HSPA+ 4G services in the PCS band; and to make room in the AWS band for LTE. In addition to creating capacity for LTE in AWS spectrum, deploying HSPA+ in the PCS band will harmonize T-Mobile’s spectrum bands with the U.S. market and international carriers. As the company refarms spectrum, T-Mobile will continue to support its 2G customers” T-Mobile USA

Whether 2013 and T-Mobile USA’s coverage plans will be sufficient remains to be seen. The carrier will be several years behind its big-name rivals, and is seeing valuable income it needs to fund the LTE deployment reduced by pushing its Value plans to distract from the iPhone 4S.

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T-Mobile USA’s Challenger Strategy begins with 4G struggle is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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23Feb/120

Asus starts Transformer TF101 Android 4.0 update in Taiwan

If you are a user of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 Android tablet that has been anxiously waiting for the Android 4.0 update, the time is near. Asus has announced via Facebook that as of today it’s officially rolling out the first wave of over the air updates for the Transformer tablet. The update is firmware version v.9.2.1.11 and Asus promises other regions will get the update soon.

Asus talks a bit about how it intends to continue improving the experience with regular firmware updates. This particular Ice Cream Sandwich update has taken much longer than owners of the tablet would’ve liked. There is no indication of how long it will take before the update comes to Europe and the US.

Asus also mentions in the Facebook post they will be announcing several new “innovations” at Mobile World Congress 2012 kicking off next week. I would expect that we will see the smartphones and tablets from Asus at the show. If you have the new update on your Transformer, be sure and let us know how it works and how the update went.

Asus starts Transformer TF101 Android 4.0 update in Taiwan is written by Shane McGlaun & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.


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