More Useful Stuff
The Playstation phone
Attracting a lot of attention at the recent Mobile World Congress was what is officially called the Xperia Play. This looks essentially like an X10 with a slide out controller (instead of a qwerty keyboard). It runs the new Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS and the display is powered by Sony’s Bravia engine (the name you’ll see on their TVs) for improved graphics performance. Sliding up the screen reveals the familiar Dual Shock controller, but with one pair of shoulder buttons instead of two – there are surely games reserved specifically for this phone. As a phone, it shows off all the Gingerbread treats, including a mobile WiFi hotspot. From the reports, it looks like Sony Ericsson have ironed out the irritations of the X10 and spent some time refining the OS. Availability in SA not yet confirmed.
The Facebook phone
What’s wrong with Facebook on my BlackBerry you may ask? Exactly. HTC marketers could be criticized for capitalizing on the Facebook brand to gain marketshare, while delivering little more than a dedicated F button and streams integrated into some of the apps. There are two ‘unofficial’ Facebook phones – the Salsa and the ChaCha. They seem to be ordinary Android 2.3 phones, just with Facebook available with one click. Still, it might well attract a heavy user, especially with the front-facing camera and that the Cha Cha has a BlackBerry-style qwerty keyboard.
The 3D phone
Does mankind really need a 3D mobile phone? Well just in case we change our minds from ‘WTF’ to ‘well, maybe’, LG have announced the Optimus 3G. No silly glasses are required for autostereoscopic displays like these, but the images are reported to be ‘cool’, but not spectacular. We see the point in playing a 3D movie on a big screen, but on a small display it makes very little sense, unless you’re a hardcore gamer. The question remains, how much extra will it cost and will you ever use it? That said, it does record video and stills in 3D, so if you have a 3D TV, it might, maybe, perhaps, possibly be worthwhile.
The Indestructible phone
There are a ton of Youtube videos showing trucks driving over Sonims, drowning them, setting them on fire etc. This is the new one. Apart from the obvious water resistance, the fiberglass body, Corning Gorilla Glass and rubber sidings can withstand dust, salt, fog, humidity, thermal shock, and temperatures ranging from under -35 degrees to over 80. Assisted-GPS can send location information at 5-minute intervals and a 2.0-megapixel camera with flash round up a generous features list for such a rugged phone. Are we ever going to test its limits in the real world, no. That doesn’t stop us from wanting one.
The Nokia Windows phone
At last Nokia have acknowledged that their Symbian OS is rubbish. Now they’re teaming up with that large software company to take on Apple, Android and RIM. This comes at a good time in the development of the Windows Mobile platform. Windows 7 is really good – a giant leap from 6.5. We’ve been using an HTC Gold for a couple of weeks and find that some of the functions are far better than any of its rivals. Somehow, weirdly this marriage makes sense, integrating each of their strengths, like Nokia’s maps and Microsoft’s Office and plans for cloud storage. Nokia has a good portion of market share due to the sales volumes of their basic units, so we hope that this partnership will bring smartphones to the masses.
Tons of new Android phones
If you thought that Android was losing a bit of momentum with so many competitors clawing at the door to the top office, most of the 24 new devices that were announced feature Android as their OS. Highlights include Samsung’s Galaxy S II, LG’s Optimus and Sony Ericsson Xperia Neo. Sony Ericsson has made it pretty clear that they wish to rule in the Google mobile roost. With their exceptional imaging hardware, this can only be a good thing, but they have serious competition from HTC and up and coming LG.
Too many tablets
LG Optimus pad, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1”, Sharp, Huawei, HP… The list goes on. Sure, it’s probably the fastest growing segment in electronics right now, but this is getting a bit much. Experts say that natural selection will take care of the weaker ones. Thing is, consumers don’t want a huge range to choose from, they need four, perhaps five and tech journalists have better things to do than constantly watch their inboxes for new press releases for ‘an exciting tablet from X just arrived!’ The big players have already emerged, and they will kill the rest: Samsung, Motorola, BlackBerry, HP, Dell and maybe LG. Oh yes and Apple.