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Samsung Galaxy S Aviator and Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be US Cellular's first LTE devices

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S Aviator and Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be US Cellular's first LTE devices
Last month, US Cellular let us know that it was getting ready to launch two LTE devices, a tablet and a smartphone. But that was all the carrier had to tease, as it didn't mention the specific gadgets it would launch.

Here we are about a month later, and it's finally decided to tell us that the Samsung Galaxy S Aviator and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will in fact be the first devices to support its nascent LTE network.

Fortunately, the initially announced release months of March for the tablet and April for the phone are still valid. We did kind of anticipate that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was the tablet that US Cellular had in mind, yet the Galaxy S Aviator is new. At least in name, since upon first look it seems to be just a rebranded Samsung Droid Charge seen on Verizon.

We'll know for sure when we get all the specs. For now, US Cellular has published the basics about each device. Unsurprisingly, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will have a 10.1-inch touchscreen, a front-facing camera, HD gaming capabilities, Adobe Flash support, and will run Android 3.2 Honeycomb.

The Samsung Galaxy S Aviator will run Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread and will have a 4.3-inch 480×800 Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen, an 8 MP rear camera, a front-facing camera as well, and an HDMI out port.

First look at SlingPlayer for Amazon's Kindle Fire

First look at SlingPlayer for Amazon's Kindle Fire

Sling Media has been the go-to provider for video placeshifting solutions for nearly seven years now. The California-based company launched its first Slingbox in 2005, enabling users to watch live television exactly as it was being broadcast to their homes on any Internet-connected PC. The company rolled out its first SlingPlayer Mobile application the following year and it hasn't looked back, continuing to expand its mobile offering to support a wide range of popular platforms and devices. Sling Media will launch the latest addition to its mobile app lineup on Tuesday when it releases SlingPlayer Mobile for Amazon's popular tablet, and we spent much of our weekend enjoying placeshifted live television on our Kindle Fire to test the new app. Check out a small gallery of screenshots below and hit the break for our early impressions of SlingPlayer Mobile for the Amazon Kindle Fire.

We have been using various versions of the SlingPlayer Mobile application here at BGR for years, but it wasn't until Apple initiated the tablet boom that SlingPlayer Mobile was really able to shine. Having the ability to watch live television or even on-demand and DVR-recorded content on a mobile phone is fantastic, but the relatively small size of cell phone displays makes the experience a mixed blessing. Not missing a moment of the NFC divisional playoffs while being dragged around a mall is fantastic, but viewing a game with wide camera angles on a screen that only measures about 4-inches diagonally is less than ideal.

Tablets changed things for SlingPlayer, however. While these slim devices are typically much larger than smartphones - though the line continues to be blurred - they're far more portable than laptops and much lighter as well. More importantly where Sling is concerned, tablets also feature more substantial screen sizes that are far better-suited for displaying video.

With an iPad-optimized build and support for a number of Android tablets out of the way, Sling Media's collective eyes turned to Amazon's Kindle Fire when the tablet launched late last year. The retail giant's first slate was expected to be a huge success before it was even announced and once it finally hit virtual store shelves, that expectation became a reality. The Kindle Fire has been Amazon's best-selling electronics device since mid-November.

“Amazon has created a wonderful device and experience for people looking to consume media — and at a good price point, Sling Media's marketing VP Jay Tannenbaum said in a statement. “Now anyone with a Slingbox Solo or PRO-HD can turn their Kindle Fire into a TV with our latest version of SlingPlayer, available on Tuesday in the Amazon App Store. We are very proud of the video quality and performance of our app and believe the combination of a Kindle Fire and a Slingbox provides a great value.”

Sling's Kindle Fire app launches on January 31st, but we spent some time testing a preview version this weekend and it absolutely impressed us. For those unaware of Sling's solutions, the company takes a complicated problem and makes the solution relatively simple considering how capable it is. Sling's TV placeshifting solution involves two components, the Slingbox that connects to the set-top box provided by a cable or satellite TV provider and the SlingPlayer software, which can be installed on a desktop PC, a notebook PC or a variety of tablets and smartphones.

With Sling Media's solution, SlingPlayer becomes a window into the user's living room. The software features integrated remote control functions that allow the user to send commands over the Web and through the infrared transmitter running from the Slingbox to a cable box, meaning SlingPlayer can do nearly anything a standard remote can do. Users can therefore change channels, view guides, navigate to and watch DVR content, purchase and watch on-demand content, schedule DVR recordings and more.

On the Kindle Fire, Sling's app performs as expected. Connections to the Slingbox are made quickly and when video first begins streaming, quality is a bit low until enough content has been buffered. Provided the Fire is connected to a network with decent Wi-Fi speeds, quality improves within about 30 seconds and remains quite clear and impressive as long as the connection is not interrupted. There is also a low-quality setting in the event bandwidth is not up to snuff.

The low-quality setting is important on the Kindle Fire, since it is a Wi-Fi only device with no embedded 3G or 4G connectivity. This means that plenty of bandwidth is available when the tablet is connected to a home network or in an office, but those who connect on the go will likely be tethered to a smartphone or MiFi. While Wi-Fi tethering is becoming more reliable thanks to 4G, fast and reliable LTE service is still relatively scarce in the U.S. so most users make do with 3G data connections.

Whether in high quality or low quality mode, however, SlingPlayer for the Kindle Fire performed as advertised. Operation using the on-screen controls was straight forward and commands were received by the Slingbox quickly. I did manage to trip up the connection once or twice by sending multiple commands too quickly, but seasoned SlingPlayer users know not to overload the controller and beyond that, performance was very impressive.

The gravity of being able to reproduce the living room experience - access on-demand content, DVR content, programming guides and everything else that one is able to access while at home in front of a TV - while on the go is something that cannot be fully appreciated until it is experienced. There are a variety of streaming video solutions for mobile devices but none of them come close to providing the same wide range of live TV and varied content that home cable or satellite services provide.

SlingPlayer Mobile for the Amazon Kindle Fire launches on January 31st for a one-time fee of $29.99, and it can be purchased directly on the tablet through the Amazon Appstore. As with all of Sling's solutions, there are no monthly subscription fees for the service.

German court denies Apple's request to ban Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Tab 10.1N

German court denies Apple's request to ban Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Tab 10.1N

The Munich Regional Court in Germany on Wednesday rejected Apple's request to ban Samsung's local subsidiaries from selling the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone and Galaxy Tab 10.1N tablet. “Samsung has shown that it is more likely than not that the patent will be revoked because of a technology that was already on the market before the intellectual property had been filed for protection," Judge Andreas Mueller said. In September, Samsung's local retailer arm was banned from selling the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet but the South Korea-based company skirted the ban by released a tweaked device called the Galaxy Tab 10.1N. Apple felt the new tablet  still infringed its patents, however, and asked the court to ban that device as well in November. In late December the presiding judge over the case said Apple was unlikely to win a ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1N and a Dutch court rejected a similar request from Apple on January 24th.

Spark tablet is Linux powered

Spark tablet is Linux powered
With the gazillion Android-powered tablets out there in the market trying to jostle with the Apple iPad for supremacy in the tablet market, sometimes an alternative could prove to be rather refreshing. Case in point, the Spark tablet which runs off a Linux-based operating system. First of all, let us delve into the specifications of the Spark tablet – it will come with a 1GHz processor alongside a Mali GPU, feature 512MB RAM, 4GB of internal memory, and a 7″ capacitive touchscreen display, all in exchange for $265.

Since software will make or break even amazing hardware, we are well pleased to discover that the Spark tablet does have its fair share of hits in terms of software. Since the KDE Plasma Active team is involved with the Spark project, you can be sure that the Spark tablet will run Linux, coupled with the team's free software distribution platform. Since software distribution is wholly community-driven and open, you can be sure that enthusiasts who jump aboard the Spark tablet bandwagon will be on the lookout for some fun apps, and if none are available, I am quite sure that several of them will get down to code amazing software in due time – what do you think?

German court upholds Samsung tablet ban

German court upholds Samsung tablet ban
It seems that things are not going too well for Samsung – in Germany, at least, where the European Union just announced whether it would look further into Samsung's tablet devices, and investigate as to whether the South Korean conglomerate was trying to hinder competitors in an illegal manner, not to mention having a German court uphold its ruling to block sales of select tablet models from Samsung. This strategic patent war with Apple is getting more and more bitter, and the EU's antitrust watchdog has grounds for suspicion that the South Korean company might just be dabbling with illegal or unfair means by using law suits over key patents on 3G wireless technology to hinder competitors such as Apple.

EU patent rules do state that a company which hold patents for standardized products need to license them out indiscriminately (now that is certainly a keyword here) without slapping an insane price tag on it, and should Samsung be found guilty of restraining competition in an unfair manner, the company might actually be fined a maximum of 10% of its annual revenue which are related to the investigation. That's certainly a big deal, so hopefully everything will get sorted out the right way soon. As consumers, I think I speak for the majority when I say that we just want to see the entire thing resolved in an amicable manner, and we love our tablets  to bits, so manufacturers out there, do your best and create a healthy, competitive atmosphere!

PlayBook OS 2.0 released on February 17?

PlayBook OS 2.0 released on February 17?
Many rumors that make their rounds on the Internet these days tend to have grounds for confirmation, simply because technology has enabled one working from within a company to be able to grab a snapshot here, or an image there, before releasing such information to the masses in a ninja-like manner. The BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 release date has certainly made its rounds on the rumor mill for some time, with many of them touting a February 2012 release date, but out of the 29 days of the month for this year, just which will be the correct one? It seems that February 17th is the most likely candidate at the moment, but there is still no concrete evidence of that. CES 2012 saw PlayBooks at RIM's booth running on OS, and there were whispers on the ground that RIM was testing later versions in house as well. All in all, we will just sit down and patiently wait for February 17 to roll by – good things, after all, come to those who wait.

ASUS rumored to unveil a redesigned PadFone next month

ASUS rumored to unveil a redesigned PadFone next month

ASUS has confirmed that the company is planning to announce a tweaked version of its tablet-smartphone hybrid at Mobile World Congress on February 27th in Barcelona, Spain, according to Modaco. The Padfone - which combines a smartphone, tablet and netbook all in one - was first unveiled at the Computex trade show in Taiwan last year by ASUS chairman Jonney Shih. The innovative device is expected to feature Ice Cream Sandwich and Qualcomm's new Snapdragon S4 processor. The PadFone consists of a 4.3-inch handset that has the ability dock inside a 10.1-inch tablet, which in turn can be docked into the Transformer's (or possibly Transformer Prime's) keyboard. When the device debuts next month, it is rumored to be redesigned with a slimmer form factor, and the the physical buttons seen on a PadFone prototype have reportedly been removed in favor of Ice Cream Sandwich's on-screen controls.






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