[News]Verizon Galaxy Note 2 with home button branding official

Proving once again that it has no shame, Verizon introduced its variant of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (SGN2) today with its logo on the home button.

Verizon’s antics are getting tiresome.  Between the locked boot loaders, slow updates, expensive family share plans and now nonsense like this it makes it really hard to continue to support them.

While not a deal breaker the button branding is tacky and the fact that none of the other carriers felt it necessary to do something similar says a lot. 

The official Galaxy Note 2 press conference is this evening and launch details are expected to be announced then.  Look for the Verizon SGN2 to be released on November 15th with a $299.99 on contract price.

UPDATE:
It looks now like the official release date for Verizon will be Thursday, November 29th.  That’s a full month later than T-Mobile and Sprint, and over two weeks later than AT&T.  The reasoning for the delay is unknown, but it’s probably to give the RAZR HD/MAXX HD more time on the market without major competition. 

The good news is this gives those that pre-ordered plenty of time to cancel their orders if the HTC DNA or LG Nexus 4 end up being better options, or if they finally decide to leave Verizon because they’re sick of being treated like second class citizens.

[Op-Ed] Which Tablet Should You Buy?

So guess what? Yes, it’s true Apple has announced the iPad mini propelling themselves into the small tablet market. Should you buy it? Well Let’s take a look at the most popular small tablets on the market right now and see if it is in fact a purchase worth making.


 
Lets start with Apple. It starts out at a pretty steep price for a small tablet beginning at $329 for the 16GB. A lot of speculation was hoping that the price would be lower but you know it’s Apple they don’t follow the rules and do want they want. This does leave a lot of options available for the consumer out there that feels the need for a tablet but just doesn’t have the funds.

Next, the Amazon Kindle Fire 7 HD. I personally don’t have any experience with this or most of these items for that matter but I would say that the Kindle Fire is more of a media application tablet. It starts out at a nice looking price of $199 for the 16GB and is still hugely competitive.

The Nexus 7 which is transitioning from 8G/16GB to 32GB and likely getting cellular is rolling in at $199 for the 8GB. It runs more smartphone apps than tablet apps. Still, if that’s all you need or care about, it’s the best bigger iPod touch on the market right now. As much of an Apple fan that I am, I was considering getting my hands on one of these.

Microsoft’s Surface with Windows RT isn’t really a small tablet but since no small Windows 8 tablets have been announced yet, let’s add it just for fun. Microsoft’s messaging is still confusing and poorly articulated, with that said it will be interesting to see how it holds up and makes sense in the real world. It starts at $499 for a 32 GB.

RIM’s Blackberry Playbook is one of the original 7-inch tablets, is still one of the most interesting. I remember the original release from 2011 and wanting this device. It’s reportedly going to be upgraded to BlackBerry 10 next year, and if you look around you can find them for as little as $149.

Well there you go. Plenty of options for your tablet fix right now. And with Apple’s iPad mini starting price over 50% more than most of the competitors the question is will it be enough to take control of the small tablet market? With those crazy fanboys out there you never know but I’m more than confident saying that it will be successful. 

Source: iMore

[News] New iPad mini will debut November 2nd for $329 *Updated*

Apple has announced the newest version of their iPad, a 7.9 inch display device coming in either white or black, with specs similar to last year’s iPad 2 for $329 to start, with 16GB of storage and WiFi enabled only.  An LTE enabled version will also be available for sale, price point as yet unknown.  All versions of the device should be available as of November 2nd, 2012.  More info on these and other Apple announcements as they come available.

Specs for the iPad mini (from the keynote speech):  measures 7.2mm thin (25% thinner than the larger iPad) and weighs 0.8lbs. The screen resolution is 1024 x 768 just like the first iPad and iPad 2, but the screen size is 7.9-inches. 4G LTE support is available for the cellular model, an Apple dual-core A5 processor, a FaceTime HD camera on the front, and 5 megapixel iSight camera on the back with 1080p HD video capture.”

Pricing for the different models of the iPad mini, in storage size and then by connectivity (from Apple.com):

Wi-Fi                                                                 Wi-Fi + Cellular

16GB
16GB
$329
$459
32GB
32GB
$429
$559
64GB
64GB
$529
$659

With the iPod mini, Apple also announced an updated version of their only 6 month old iPad 3, introducing both a new processor and the new Lightning connection.  This represents a departure from normal life cycle releases for Apple, who normally pushes a year out before a new version of a product is released.  Additionally, the 13 inch MacBook Pro now sports a Retina display, something I’m sure loads of MacBook Pro users were waiting for.  

[Op-Ed] Where does smartphone evolution go from here?

The perfect smartphone is a moving target that is different for everyone.  In terms of raw specifications, each generation of new phones has surpassed its predecessor in computing power, memory, and display quality.  But now, tech users and producers alike find ourselves at a near “tipping point” in terms of the power and features of our phone technology.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
HTC’s has in the works the Verizon version of the “J Butterfly” device (specs and info found here) which is truly cutting edge.  Along these same lines, Samsung’s announced recently (info found here) that 1080p resolution displays will be integrated into their phones by early 2013.  Other phones already landing this year (like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2) bear within them quad-core processors and as much as 2GB of RAM.  We have had LTE data speeds in mobile devices going back as far as early 2012.  All of this tech advancement makes me wonder – where do we go from here?  Or perhaps put another way: what will be the next big leap forward in smartphone innovation from major OEMs?
For a long time, there was very little need for major advancements in phone technology.  Most users talked, send the occasional text message, and took a grainy photo from time to time.  With the rise of the internet and mobile computing, end users wanted access to more features from their primary handheld device.  And so computer-like processors found their way into phones, and the requisite RAM volumes as well.  Storage memory had to increase as well, and as mobile apps like Twitter and Facebook and other social media became more popular as forms of communication, camera tech had to improve as well to allow mobile users to be able to share the world around them in real time.  (This is also touched upon more in depth in my piece on software and the mobile revolution here.)
With more content moving to and from the cloud wirelessly, the demand for faster and faster connection speeds brought about first 3G, then 4G-LTE.  As more mobile content was consumed on devices, the desire for larger and higher resolution screens was demanded.  Bigger battery sizes have been included to allow for the increased power of all of these developments, all while enabling most vendors to keep the phone sizes thin and light.  All of these have been achieved in a relatively short period of time, and mobile phone tech will be at a point in a few short months (early in 2013) where a user can purchase a phone with a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a large 5 inch 1080p display, with LTE speeds enabled and as much on board or SD card memory to handle as many apps as anyone would reasonably need.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus
So again my question is:  where do we go from here?  I for one can’t think of a single innovation that would dramatically improve my personal experience with a phone.  Other than ensuring that the battery life of these “superphones” is on par with what I’d expect from it (a full day of moderate to heavy usage, even with LTE enabled) I don’t know what more I could ask for.  Hex-core (6 cores) processors?  What’s the point?  Is 4GB of RAM going to allow me to open an app faster or make a phone call quicker?  LTE speeds are comparable or better than the current WiFi standard and streaming video or audio isn’t a problem.  The existing 720p displays on phones (such as my Galaxy Nexus) are terrific but are going to be eclipsed soon with these new HD 1080p displays.
Most phones available today and in the next 6 months already can do more than the average end user would ever need them to do.  Pricing is really the only thing stopping every consumer in the world from having a phone that has as much computing power as a home computer from 3-4 years ago.  Perhaps Samsung’s flexible display tech or something only currently thought of in science fiction (3D holographic displays?) will be the next big breakthrough.  To me, those kind of innovations are at least 4-5 years away.  For now I guess, we as consumers should just sit back, relax, and enjoy the current pinnacle of mobile technology that’s about to happen around us.  It might be with us for a while.
  

[News]HTC 8X running on Verizon appears, release in early November

Last week rumors appeared that Verizon might cancel or delay the release of its Windows Phone 8 (WP8) handsets because the OS has no provision for remote access.  Apparently certain aspects of Verizon’s device management system necessitate remote access (anyone else find this kind of creepy?) in order to function properly.

Today however we have an image of the HTC 8X running on Big Red’s network with a rumored release date in early November.

Photo courtesy WPCentral.com

Obviously the rumors were wrong or a solution has been found for the remote access problem.

The 8X features a dual-core Snapdragon S4, a 4.3″ 720p RGB Super LCD-2 screen, 1GB of RAM, a 1800 non-removable battery, a 2.1MP wide angle front camera and an 8MP rear camera with ImageSense. The rumored price is a mere $99.99 on contract.
Somewhere all five Verizon WP8 fans are smiling.

[News] iPhone 5 jailbreak "Close" and Class-Action Suit filed against Apple

Photo courtesy Macrumors

So you have the iPhone 5 and have been patiently waiting to get your jailbreak on. Well, you may be in luck. Recently a member of the Chronic Dev Team announced that a full tethered jailbreak for that iPhone 5 of yours is “close” to being done. Unfortunately for now, a developer account is needed to run the jailbreak.

Sorry to disappoint you regular users such as myself but since the iPhone 5 has a completely new chip as well as a completely new operating system, it’s simply not an easy task.

The good news is that even if the tethered jailbreak won’t work for everyone this more than likely means an untethered jailbreak may be just over the horizon.

If you do have a developer account then good luck with your jailbreak. The rest of us will try to obediently wait.

To piggy back on that news, a pair of iPhone users Zach Ward and Thomas Buchar filed a class-action suit against Apple in San Francisco. The complaint lists a single count against Apple of “Conspiracy to monopolize the iPhone voice and data services aftermarket in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act.”

The suit alleges that Apple conspired with AT&T to lock iPhone users to the AT&T network for five years without receiving consent from the consumer. The plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, treble and exemplary damages, legal costs, and the software unlock codes. It also seeks to force Apple to disclose that the iPhone is locked to specific network.

According to CNET, previous lawsuits against carriers have been unsuccessful thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2011 that found consumers no longer have the right to file class actions suites against wireless carriers.  That’s probably the reason that the plaintiffs are attacking Apple rather than AT&T.

 Source: Slashgear, CNET, iphonebuzz

[News] Bill Gates thinks the new Surface tablets are great!

Okay…so this might not exactly qualify as “news.”  But you have to hand it to the guy…anytime the head of a multi-billion dollar software corporation gets a video out on YouTube about how great his company’s new product is, its going make headlines.


So for the man himself’s opinion on Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, check out the following video.

As you might remember, the Surface tablet pre-orders were just made available a few days ago (see the article here) so as might be expected, there is going to be a big marketing push by Microsoft to get the word out that this tablet is awesome, and you should pick one up right away.  Whether or not this marketing push, including colorful and fun TV commercials, works will be up to consumers to decide.

[News] Apple’s event is tomorrow

A quick reminder for those Apple fans out there that Apple’s event is tomorrow, October 23, 2012 and will likely showcase the announcement of the iPad Mini (or whatever its real name ends up being).  In addition, there are some other rumors including:

  • The previous generation iPad 2 will be discontinued – end of life
  • The current iPad 3 will get a connection makeover, to include the new “Lightning” connector
  • MacBook Pro (the smaller versions) to receive the Retina Display panels
Will the iPad Mini be a huge hit or a tiny flop?  Are any of you looking forward to a smaller, more portable version of Apple’s tablet?  Can Apple make a dent in the 7 inch tablet market, currently dominated by Android tablets including the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire?  With Google’s event only a week a way, there will be even stiffer competition for the iPad Mini to face soon.  Stay tuned for the Two Tech Geeks coverage of the Apple event as it happens!
*Source:  BGR

[Rumor] Google Event announcement to include 3G enabled Nexus and Nexus 10 tablet

With October 29th fast approaching, the rumors on what is going to be announced at Google’s Event are coming fast and furious…the latest and greatest include the following:

  • A 3G enabled Nexus 7 tablet, with HSPA+ speeds rumored
  • 32GB Nexus 7 tablet (all but confirmed)
  • Nexus 10 tablet, in partnership with Samsung
  • Nexus 4 device from LG (see specs reported here)
  • Androids latest OS release, 4.2 (rumored still to be named Jelly Bean)
Some of these things (the 32GB Nexus 7, the Nexus 4 from LG) were previously reported, so no surprises there.  But the inclusion of a 3G Nexus tablet would be new and exciting, as would the official announcement of the Nexus 10 tablet.  While rumors of the Nexus 10 have slated its release as somewhere in the 1st quarter of 2013.  No matter when its released, this tablet is sure to please (see the full details here) as long as the price point is a reasonable one.  This also, along with Microsoft’s Surface tablet, is going to go up against Apple’s featured iPad 3 device so price is going to be a factor if they hope to expect solid sales numbers.  Pricing it at (or above, heaven forbid) the iPad’s current prices aren’t going to do it any favors.
The 3G Nexus 7 I’m interested in since it will have to be tied to a carrier…but which carrier, how, and for how much data is the question.  Hopefully, we’ll see more details soon.  And, if not, the 29th is only a week away.
*Source: Droid-Life

[News]HTC DLX 5" 1080p superphone leaks for Verizon

Thanks to Androidcentral we have our best look yet at the forthcoming HTC DLX (pronounced Deluxe) on Verizon.

The HTC DLX features a 5″ 1080p Super LCD-3 screen.  This will be the first full HD screen released on any phone in the United States.  Although the benefits of 1080p screens are debatable, it’s still nice to see HTC pushing the technological envelope.  Look at this macro shot comparison with the iPhone 5, no slouch of its own when it comes to display quality, and the difference in clarity is immediately apparent:

Image courtesy theverge.com

The CPU is a quad-core Snapdragon S4 PRO paired with an Adreno 320 GPU.  The DLX has 2GB of ram, a 2500mah battery, and an 8MP camera.  The Japanese version of the DLX (the J Butterfly) has an SD card slot, but the leak doesn’t mention whether of not the DLX follows suit.

HTC is still using physical buttons and the front camera appears to be the same wide angle 2MP unit from the 8X.

The rear camera is the same 8MP unit out of the One X+ with a dedicated ImageSense chip.

The prototype unit is running Android 4.1.1 with Sense 4+.  Expect to see the DLX released around Thanksgiving.

Here’s the full specs breakdown based on what we know so far:

HTC Droid DLX (Also rumored as the Nexus 5)
All specifications based on current leaks/rumors
Release Date: November
Carrier(s): Verizon
Price: Unknown.  Likely $199.99 or $299.99 on contract
CPU/GPU: Quad-Core Snapdragon S4 Pro/Adreno 320
Screen: 5″ Super LCD-3 (RGB) 1920x1080p
Camera: 2.1MP(Fr)/12MP/1080p@30fps
Memory: 1.5GB
Storage: 16GB
SD Card Slot: No
Battery: Non-Removable/2500mah
Pros: A 5″ 1080p screen featuring a ridiculous pixel density of 440ppi.  Stylish design with typical HTC quality materials.  The S4 PRO is the most powerful CPU/GPU in the current Android universe.
Cons: Large for the average consumer.  No SD card slot.  Internal battery.
Outlook: The rumored specs of the Incredible X are as impressive as any phone on the market.  The 1080p screen would be the first of its kind on any smartphone and the quad-core S4 Snapdragon CPU is one of the most powerful available.  
Similar phones to consider: Apple iPhone 5, HTC 8X, LG Intuition, Motorola Droid Razr MAXX HD, Samsung Ativ S, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung Galaxy S III