Samsung Galaxy Mini 2, Galaxy Ace 2 and Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 hands-on

By on February 28, 2012 at 4:35 PM.

Samsung Galaxy Mini 2, Galaxy Ace 2 and Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 hands-on

These three new devices announced by Samsung at Mobile World Congress are each intended to occupy different spaces in the mobile market. The Galaxy Mini 2 is a diminutive little smartphone with pretty unimpressive specs, but it is aimed at the entry-level crowd where it may fare well. The 3.27-inch small handset sports a single-core 800mhz processor, Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread with TouchWiz, a 3.2 megapixel camera and a positively terrible HVGA display. It feels odd to use the word “terrible” when describing a Samsung display, but Samsung cut some corners to keep this phone’s cost down and the display was definitely one of them. Performance in use was lackluster as well, but then again, if you’re in the market for a phone like the Mini 2 you’re probably not very concerned with the latest and greatest. Hit the jump for more.

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Hands-on with the ZTE Era, Orbit and PF112

By on February 27, 2012 at 4:40 PM.

Hands-on with the ZTE Era, Orbit and PF112

ZTE doesn’t have a strong presence here in the U.S., but the vendor revealed several smartphones at this year’s Mobile World Congress trade show that will be big sellers in a number of markets. The Era, Orbit and PF112 are among the new ZTE phones that will launch this year, and we spent some time with each of them on Monday. The Era and the PF112 both run Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, while the Orbit is a Windows Phone. The Era is a quad-core Tegra 3-powered beast with a 4.3-inch screen and high-end specs that rival any device launched here at the show. The PF112 sports an even larger 4.5-inch screen, tri-band HSPA+ and an 8-megapixel shooter. The Orbit is the company’s low-end Windows Phone model, with a 4-inch display, a 1GHz processor and 4GB of on-board storage. In use, the Windows Phone-powered Orbit was definitely impressive for an entry-level smartphone, exhibiting the smooth user experience we’ve come to expect from handsets powered by Microsoft’s mobile platform. The Android phones weren’t operational, so we can’t comment on their performance. We can definitely still admire their sleek designs though, so check out our hands-on gallery for photos of each of these new ZTE phones.

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Hands on with Sony’s Xperia P (again) and Xperia U

By on February 27, 2012 at 1:40 PM.

Hands on with Sony’s Xperia P (again) and Xperia U

We were only able to spend a few minutes with Sony’s new Xperia P smartphone as we rushed from Sony’s press conference to HTC’s press conference on Sunday, and we didn’t get any time at all with the Xperia U. Thanks to a slightly lighter event scheduled on Monday, we were able to make it over to Sony’s booth and spend some quality time with its new smartphones. These are the first smartphones that will be launched by the new Sony Mobile Communications unit that picks up where Sony Ericsson left off, and to be frank, we’re a bit concerned. This pair of Android phones is well-made and we like what Sony has done to its UI atop Android 4.0, but we’re still seeing some things that concern us. Check out our hands-on photos in the gallery linked below, and then hit the break for our initial impressions of the Xperia P and Xperia U smartphones.

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note is the most useless phone I’ve used

By on February 13, 2012 at 3:45 PM.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note is the most useless phone I’ve used

Samsung and AT&T are getting ready to launch a new smartphone, superphone, phablet or whatever else you want to call it, and I picked one up earlier today. It’s the first time I have used or even held the device personally, and I really need to share some immediate thoughts even though a full review is forthcoming. This is a phone, after using it for a few hours, that feels like it is too big to be taken seriously. That’s the end of it. I don’t care if you like large screens on mobile devices, I don’t care if you love Android, and I don’t care if you love 4G LTE — this is a device fit for use only by such a small subset of the human population that I can’t fathom how AT&T and Samsung are putting so much marketing resources behind it. Check out images of the Galaxy Note in the gallery below, and the rest of my thoughts follow after the break.

The Galaxy Note essentially has everything you’d want in a smartphone: a great dual-core processor, a solid camera, a beautiful display and good build quality, and it runs on AT&T’s new 4G LTE network that delivers incredibly fast downloads speeds. Plus the battery seems actually decent so far, which is a triumph for modern smartphones.

Throw all of that right out the window.

The phone is too big. You will look stupid talking on it, people will laugh at you, and you’ll be unhappy if you buy it. I really can’t get around this, unfortunately, because Samsung pushed things way too far this time.

You can’t use it one-handed, and I can’t even type on it easily with two hands. I’m almost offended by this product, and I love a lot of what Samsung is doing — in fact, the company’s current flagship is my favorite Android smartphone in the world. But the Galaxy Note just feels like a joke. And the worst part? Look at the display and how it’s manufactured and designed. See any resemblances to anything else?

I feel like no one else is saying this, and since I’ve not ever been one to hold back what’s on my mind I absolutely will — enough is enough. I’ve had it with incremental updates to Android smartphones every two weeks, I’ve had it with the super-sized ridiculousness, and I’ve had it with all of these marketing gimmicks. Just focus on a quality product, and you won’t have to release eight “flagship” models a year.

But you have a stylus that comes with it, so I guess that makes up for any similarities with rival devices. Kind of like those lollipops you’d get at the dentist after someone just went Mike Tyson on your tooth.

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LG CES 2012 booth tour

By on January 12, 2012 at 11:05 AM.

LG CES 2012 booth tour

Samsung and Sony each brought their A-game to the Consumer Electronics Show this year when it comes to high-end HDTVs. If there was one other brand that could easily give these tech giants a run for their money though, it was LG. The South Korea-based company had a handfull of other devices to show off at CES 2012, but televisions took center stage in the firm’s booth and sets on display ranged from entry-level offerings to high-end stunners that were absolutely beautiful. Of all the TVs LG had on display at CES, our clear favorite — it’s not even close, really — was the company’s new 55-inch OLED model. The gorgeous panel on this HDTV gives Samsung’s Super OLED displays a run for their money, and we would be hard pressed to say which screen produces deeper blacks and more vivid colors. No pricing has been announced and we’re sure this set will cost a pretty penny, but it could very well find its way to BGR headquarters once it hits the market. Pictures can hardly do LG’s new OLED HDTV justice, but several photos can be found in our LG booth tour, which follows below.

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Microsoft CES 2012 booth tour

By on January 11, 2012 at 9:05 PM.

Microsoft CES 2012 booth tour

Microsoft had a massive booth at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. It was home to brand new laptops, a huge array of Windows Phone devices, demo stations for Xbox 360 and SkyDrive, and plenty more. Sadly, however, there were no Windows 8 devices on display to give show-goers a closer look at Microsoft’s next-generation operating system. We love Windows Phone in its current state and it seems like we aren’t alone; there were tons of people gathered around the phones playing with them and it looked like plenty of people were impressed, too. Whether or not this new wave of enthusiasm will translate into sales remains to be seen, of course. There were plenty of other sights to see in Microsoft’s booth, so be sure to check out our full gallery below.

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Verizon’s Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX hands-on

By on January 10, 2012 at 6:08 PM.

Verizon’s Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX hands-on

In addition to spending some time with the new Motorola DROID 4, we just went Inside The Actor’s Studio with Ed Zander’s old the new RAZR. The Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX is similar to the DROID RAZR but offers a larger battery for up to 21 hours of usage on a single charge. Despite the larger battery, however, the device still feels super thin. We didn’t notice a hint of lag while flying through menus, but we did notice that there was some sluggishness inside the web browser while loading websites. The DROID RAZR MAXX also comes equipped with 32GB of on-board storage, which should be plenty for storing movies, music and photos. Unfortunately it still runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) but we hope, and suspect, that Motorola has plans to upgrade the phone to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). The RAZR MAXX will cost $299 with a new two-year contract when it makes its debut on Verizon Wireless. Photo’s are all in the gallery, minus James Lipton.

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Nokia Lumia 900 hands-on

By on January 10, 2012 at 4:27 PM.

Nokia Lumia 900 hands-on

Leading up to the Consumer Electronics Show this year, Nokia’s first Windows Phone for AT&T was definitely one of the smartphone announcements we were anticipating most anxiously. We were fans of the Lumia 800 when we reviewed it, but when our sources let us know that a bigger handset that maintained the Lumia 800′s design aesthetic would launch soon after CES, the 800 lost its luster. In line with our exclusive report, Nokia’s brand new Lumia 900 features the same unique design and build as the Lumia 800 Nokia launched last year, but there are two key differences that make this smartphone our clear favorite. It includes compatibility with AT&T’s new 4G LTE network, and it packs a larger 4.3-inch ClearBlack AMOLED display. The larger form factor was designed with the U.S. market in mind according to Nokia, and the size of the device is ideal. The Lumia 900′s build is outstanding as well, and Windows Phone 7.5 is beyond smooth thanks to the phone’s 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor. Nokia and AT&T haven’t yet revealed pricing or a launch date, but Nokia did say it will become available in the coming months. We can’t wait to review this gorgeous smartphone but in the mean time, check out our hands-on Lumia 900 photo gallery below.

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Nokia Lumia 710 review

By on January 5, 2012 at 12:01 PM.

Nokia Lumia 710 review

Nokia proved it was back in the smartphone game when it launched the Lumia 800 last year. But can its Lumia 710 gain the attention of U.S. consumers? Many would argue that Nokia should have decided to launch the Lumia 800 to make a bigger splash in a market that has long forgotten the Finnish smartphone maker. But the Lumia 710 is affordable — it only costs $50 with a new two-year contract — and it’s also powerful. It’s not as feature-rich as the Lumia 800, but can it still compete with other smartphones in its price range? My full review follows after the break.

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Verizon Galaxy Nexus hands-on

By on December 15, 2011 at 11:25 AM.

Verizon Galaxy Nexus hands-on

We finally got our hands on Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and… well, it’s almost identical to the HSPA+ version we reviewed last month. It’s thicker, though we actually like holding and using the Verizon unit better because the slightly thicker case makes one-hand a bit more comfortable. There’s also a small, small, (notice how we’re saying small?) lip around the display that isn’t there on the HSPA+ version, but most people probably wouldn’t even notice such a minute case difference. The problem with the display’s auto-brightness being overly aggressive doesn’t seem to be an issue on the Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus, but everything else seems identical. We’ll chime in over the next few days with a few more thoughts, but here’s a spoiler: provided there aren’t any huge issues we discover, this is easily the best smartphone to ever hit Verizon Wireless. Ready to go hands-on? It’s all in the gallery below.

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Live from the grand opening of Apple’s Grand Central Terminal Apple Store

By on December 9, 2011 at 10:35 AM.

Live from the grand opening of Apple’s Grand Central Terminal Apple Store

We just elbowed our way through crowds, crawled on the ground under legs and ducked beneath cameras to bring you a look at the insanity that is Apple’s Grand Central Terminal Apple Store (grand) opening. The line to get in was wrapped deep inside and around the corridors of Grand Central Station, and there were hundreds of people gathered around the steps of the East Balcony entrance as well. Those who are smart enough to steer clear of the bedlam should be sure to check out our photo gallery below, and stay tuned for more pictures once if we can manage to fight our way inside.

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Nest learning thermostat hands-on and installation

By on December 6, 2011 at 12:09 PM.

Nest learning thermostat hands-on and installation

When a product emerges that is created by a team of ex-Apple employees — including one responsible in part for leading the hardware teams behind the iPod and iPhone — that product sells out almost immediately. The latest device to fit the bill isn’t a new smartphone or even a tablet; no, this time around it’s actually a thermostat. As odd as that sounds, the Nest thermostat is exciting in many, many ways. For starters, the amount of thought that went into just the hardware alone is, well, Apple-like. It’s miles ahead of any comparable product in terms of look, form and function. It’s sleek yet is based on a classic and familiar Honeywell T87 round thermostat, and it is packed to the brim with technology including, among other things, a vivid color LCD display and Wi-Fi support. More →

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LG Nitro HD hands-on

By on December 1, 2011 at 7:20 PM.

LG Nitro HD hands-on

We just dropped by an LG event in New York City to check out AT&T’s third 4G LTE phone, the LG Nitro HD. The device packs a sharp 1280 x 720-pixel HD display, which is easily one of the Nitro’s biggest draws. The display offers a noticeable difference in color clarity compared to the Samsung Galaxy S II; we took a picture of a Ducati motorcycle with both phones and while the red paint job really popped on the Galaxy S II display, the LG Nitro’s display reproduced colors much more accurately. The Nitro HD is also equipped with an 8-megapixel camera that’s capable of recording HD video and we were impressed with the pictures it captured during a few minutes with the phone. We’ll reserve our final judgement on the camera until we compare it with other devices, however. Hit the break for more and don’t forget to check out our photo gallery below.

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