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Intel Talks up Tablet & Phone Processors

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Intel is talking up its partnership with ASUS on the 7″ Android-based Fonepad, at Mobile World Congress, and said its new Clover Trail+ chip (pdf) has double the performance and triple the graphics capabilities of its predecessor.

Clover Trail+, using 32nm process, is Intel’s first dual-core chip for smartphones, and the successor to Medfield. The performance boost comes at the same level of power consumption as Intel’s prior offering, reports C/Net.

Intel says Clover Trail+ comes in three variations: 2.0 gigahertz, 1.6GHz, and 1.2GHz. The processors come with an Intel graphics media accelerator engine with a graphics core supporting up to 533MHz with boost mode.

Clover Trail+ likely will be a short-lived chip, though. Intel will transition to 22 nanometers and a new architecture later this year with the Merrifield chip. The company didn’t give many details about the 22-nanometer processor for smartphones, beyond saying it “will help enable increased smartphone performance, power efficiency, and battery life.”

Intel’s 22-nanometer chip tablet processor, dubbed Bay Trail, is Intel’s first quad-core Atom chip. It doubles the performance of the company’s current-generation tablet chip. Bay Trail should be available in time for this year’s holiday season.

Intel also doesn’t offer a multimode LTE processor, which allows phones to access older networks in locations where 4G isn’t available. The company today said that will change in coming months as Intel starts shipping its multimode processor. The chip, dubbed the XMM 7160, supports LTE, DC-HSPA+ and EDGE.

In smartphones especially, Intel faces a tough battle against entrenched competitors, notes ArsTechnica. Apple and Samsung are content to make their own chips for their phones and tablets, and Qualcomm’s successful Snapdragon SoCs (plus its many LTE-supporting modems) means that ARM chips are likely to remain a mainstay in this market segment, especially in the US. Nvidia’s Tegra 4i and its own integrated modem make a strong case for midrange phones, as well.

One of the most intriguing new phones being unveiled this week in Barcelona, may be a sleek new Windows model developed in Redmond, notes Brier Dudley in the Seattle Times.

The i-mate handset, with a 4.7-inch touch-screen display, runs on Intel’s “Clover Trail” hardware and Windows 8 Pro, so it’s a full-blown PC capable of running most desktop software.

Called the Intelegent, the device could go on sale this summer for $750, which is less than the price of an unlocked iPhone 5 with the same amount of storage capacity. It has an Atom processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM and 64 gigabytes of storage. It’s designed to work with HSPA+ and LTE 4G wireless networks and have up to 10 hours of talk time.

I-mate will sell the phone alone or as part of a $1,600 desktop hardware suite including a docking station, called the “hub.” Docked in the hub, the phone can be used with a traditional, wired phone handset or make video calls. It also functions as a desktop PC — powering a 23-inch touch-screen display, keyboard and mouse — and drives an auxiliary wireless tablet with a 10.1-inch, 1080p display.

New Asus Tablets at MWC

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Asus, the company behind Google’s Nexus 7, has introduced the FonePad, a $249 7-inch tablet that can make phone calls. It features a 1,280×800 display, the same size and resolution as the Nexus 7, but lacks a rear camera, but includes a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, which should come in handy for video calling.

It uses an Intel 1.2GHz Atom Z2420, along with 1GB of RAM, a PowerVR SGX540 GPU, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and an HSPA+ radio. The 4,270mAH battery is said to get up to nine hours of runtime, which would put this in the same league as other tablets.

You get 16GB of storage, but it also has a microSD card, with up to 32GB cards supported. That should be plenty of space, and gives the FonePad an edge over the Nexus 7, which has no expandable storage.

The FonePad is made from metal, is slim, too, measuring 10.4mm on its shallowest side. Asus says you’ll be able to grip this tablet comfortably with one hand, much like the Nexus 7.

The ASUS PadFone Infinity also announced today, is a 5-inch phone with a 1080p screen, Snapdragon 600 CPU and full HD tablet display. Like other PadFones, the handset slips into a tablet-like dock.

The new version ships with Android 4.2, and the display has grown from 4.7 inches to 5. The resolution is now 1080p (up from 720p), which comes out to 441 pixels per inch. The tablet’s 10.1-inch screen has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200, up from 1,280 x 800 in the last-gen model.

The smaller PadFone Infinity supports EDGE, GPRS, GSM, WCDMA, LTE and DC-HSPA+, along with WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, A-GPS and even GLONASS. ASUS has added a 13-megapixel autofocusing camera with an LED flash, five-element, f/2.0 lens and burst shooting at eight fps. There’s a front camera too, capped at 2MP. Meanwhile, the 2,400mAh battery promises up to 19 hours of 3G talk time, and up to 40 with the dock attached.

Like every other PadFone that’s been released, this won’t be available in the US, but the phone-and-dock combo will cost £799 / €999 when it goes on sale in Europe this April.

A lower cost version of the 7-inch MeMO Pad is coming to the US. Starting at $149 for an 8GB model, the MeMO Pad features a VIA WM8950 SoC. Inside the SoC, a single ARM Cortex A9 CPU runs at up to 1GHz and features an ARM Mali-400 of unknown core configuration. The total DRAM size hasn’t gone down compared to the Nexus 7, but display resolution has (1024 x 600 vs. 1280 x 800). Availability is expected in the US starting in April.

Nokia Adds Bargain Line, Integrates Here

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Nokia is rebranding it’s Drive, Maps and Transit services and bringing them to Windows Phone devices under the Here brand.

HERE Maps, HERE Drive (with regional navigation), HERE Drive+ (with global navigation), HERE Transit and HERE City Lens are available now on the Windows Phone Store.

Nokia also recently introduced LiveSight, a technology that integrates sight recognition with live map information. City Lens already uses this technology, and soon we will introduce it also in HERE Maps and their our newest camera lens, Nokia Place Tag.

When you are taking photos with the Place Tag lens, your Lumia will capture the image and also record the Points of Interest (POIs) that are visible in the viewfinder and the name and address.

Nokia announced four new devices at lower price points, while Nokia’s HERE location suite becomes available for non-Nokia phones in the Windows Phone ecosystem, the company announced today at Mobile World Congress.

Nokia Lumia 720 and Nokia Lumia 520 expand Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 portfolio.

The Nokia Lumia 720 with an estimated starting price of EUR 249 before taxes and subsidies, delivers a high-end camera performance at a mid-range price point. A large f/1.9 aperture and Carl Zeiss optics deliver HD-quality, wide-angle front-facing camera and comes with the latest high-end Nokia Lumia experiences, including Nokia Music, the HERE location suite, and the option to add wireless charging with a snap-on wireless charging cover.

The Nokia Lumia 520 has an estimated starting price of EUR 139, before taxes and subsidies. Roll-out is planned to begin in Q1 2013 in Hong Kong and Vietnam, before expanding broadly in Q2 to markets in Europe, Asia – including China and India – Latin America and Africa. The Nokia Lumia 520 is also planned to roll out in the United States with T-Mobile. It has a five-megapixel autofocus camera and 8GB internal memory with support for micro SD cards up to 64GB.

Nokia also announced that following the launch of the Nokia Lumia 920T by China Mobile last year, the world’s biggest mobile operator would also bring the Nokia Lumia 720 and the Nokia Lumia 520 to China.

Nokia also unveiled the Nokia 105 , its most affordable phone to date, and the Nokia 301, for more affordable Internet and email access, and camera experiences inspired by Nokia Lumia smartphones.

The Nokia 105 is available in black and cyan for a recommended price of EUR 15.

It is planned to start rolling out in Q1 2013 and is expected to be gradually expanded to in China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Vietnam and other markets in Africa, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

The Nokia 301 has a recommended price of EUR 65, with a fast, 3.5G Internet connection and Nokia Xpress Browser. It is planned to start rolling out in Q2 2013 and is expected to be available in more than 120 countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, India, Middle East and Latin America.

GM Goes with AT&T for 4G Connected Car

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AT&T and General Motors said on Monday that they will add 4G wireless to GM’s 2014 vehicles from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles in the United States and Canada.

OnStar – best known for connecting drivers to live operators who provide directions or summon emergency help after an accident – will start using AT&T in its 2015 models, which go on sale in mid-2014. – best known for connecting drivers to live operators who provide directions or summon emergency help after an accident – will start using AT&T in its 2015 models, which go on sale in mid-2014.

GM said that Verizon Wireless, which has been the company’s wireless provider since 1996, would still support OnStar services for all existing GM vehicles and any new models that come out before the 2015 models are launched.

Verizon currently has superior LTE coverage (273.5 million people versus 170 million for AT&T today), but AT&T’s promises to cover 300 million US consumers by year end 2014.

AT&T and GM plan to develop some apps together, as well as allow outside software developers to contribute.

The companies have not determined how much the service will cost, but Glenn Lurie, AT&T’s president of emerging enterprises, said adding a wireless connection inside cars would open doors to a wave of new apps that make vehicles smarter.

“The car is going to be a smartphone with four wheels,” Mr. Lurie said in an interview. “The opportunities are endless when you think about adding an LTE pipe to a car.” He said potential apps might display real-time traffic on a map or perform enhanced vehicle diagnostics, giving consumers a deeper understanding of what is happening inside their cars. Children sitting in the back seat might be able to stream Netflix over the wireless connection.

Lurie said he believed the connected car would be AT&T’s “next billion dollar business.”

Mobile World Congress 2013 Opens

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry (wikipedia), opens today and runs through 28 February, at Fira de Barcelona in Spain. Some 50,000-60,000 mobile industry leaders are expected to smooze with prominent CEOs, mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners from more than 200 countries from across the globe.

The conference will be throughly covered by Mobile World Live, their in-house news source, and social media, as well as literally hundreds of independent news outlets such as C/Net, Engadget, The Verge, Tech Crunch, Light Reading, Fierce Wireless, Re-Think Wireless, Phone Scoop, EE Times, Computer World, Network World, Anandtech, ARM Devices, Gigaom, Blog Runner, PC Magazine, Google Search, TechMeme and ZDNet.

Engadget and The Verge are live blogging the daily press conference and have previews of coming attractions. More to come.

House of Cards: Netflix Winner

Posted by Sam Churchill on

House of Cards, the original series commissioned by Netflix, which stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, is paying dividends, according to a Cowen survey of 1,200 people. The entire first season premiered on February 1, 2013 on Netflix.

Netflix has been mum on viewership of House of Cards, preferring so far not to break out the number of subscribers who have watched it. The company has said, however, that the program is its most-watched show.

Only 10% of those surveyed had watched the show, but the Cowen and Company survey showed that of those that did, 80% of those surveyed said the new show was either “good” or “exceptional”.

Some 86 percent of those surveyed said they would be less likely to cancel after viewing the new show. 90% liked the fact Netflix released all the episodes at once, though some had argued this would lessen the brand impact since that approach killed off “weekly water cooler chatter.”

The survey also found that 22.6% of Netflix subscribers say that they cut the cord with a cable or satellite service, though the sample size was too small to be meaningful.

A $10 a month Netflix fee is considered a good deal by many people when their primary alternative option is a $100 a month cable TV connection with dozens of channels they never watch.

Recent announcements by Intel, Apple, Google, and others indicate a high interest in cutting out the cable operator, delivering programs direct to consumers via the internet.

It may be a stretch to believe that H.265 and LTE Broadcast can deliver a viable platform – without the wires. But it won’t stop people from trying. People like Charlie Ergen.

Cellular infrastructure is underutilized in the evening. Boxes like “the Hopper” could off-load prime time programming. AT&T can deliver movies for $60-$80/month at 10 Mbps over phone lines. Maybe cellular operators can use LTE Broadcast, using LTE-A with 4×4 MIMO, to deliver a wireless alternative to the Comcast/NBC edifice.

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