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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wind Mobile and Mobilicity Release Samsung Nexus S - Wind Opens up WindTAB for Existing Customers!!!

The first great piece of news is that Wind Mobile and Mobilicity have released their first GOOD android phone. The official google developers phone (i.e. gets new releases of google android first, and no lengthy waits experienced by other phones) the Nexus S is now available for $500 from Mobilicity, and $525 from Wind. This news was pretty disappointing considering that Koodo Mobile (owned by Telus) is selling the exact same phone for $425 (different frequencies folks, so not compatible with Mobi/Wind).

The Nexus S is a great phone that is sure to give you a stream-lined and problem-free vanilla android experience (no customizations or overlaps like HTC's sense UI), but some people are already looking to the new generation of dual core phones coming out. Unfortunately the hardware in the Nexus S is already dated (single core last generation CPU), making a lot of people hesitant to purchase.

One way that I could personally justify getting a Nexus S, in light of all of these new dual core phones coming out for the same price as the Nexus S ($525 or less), would be to get the phone on a WindTAB. Wind has just opened up it's WindTAB program to existing customers on credit approval, which means that you don't have to be a new customer to get this deal anymore. Now existing customers can upgrade their phone for $150 off, making the Nexus S $375. I'd really like to see Wind drop the Nexus S down to $500 and match Mobilicity, but the WindTab makes it bearable.

Rumour has it that the new WindTAB for existing customers will start May 1st, 2011.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Updates Coming Soon - Cyanogen Mod 7 (Android 2.3 Gingerbread) for LG Optimus Phones

Sorry for the lack of updates and responses to the blog/tutorials. I've had many comments on here and on youtube that have gone unanswered over the last couple of months. I am doing a PhD and have very little free time at the moment, and so i've been leaving it up to other people to answer most questions. Also, i'm really not an expert and the XDA developers forums where all of these ROMs are made is the best place for technical advice. I find the instructions given on the XDA forums are generally very brief and hard to understand/follow, and result in many hours of frustration and question asking. I thought it would be a good idea to combine all of the different resources needed for rooting and installing customs ROMs, and then write a comprehensive tutorial with a video so that people can more easily understand and follow. Having said that, these things are NOT for beginners and there are risks of 'breaking' your phone while doing it. I'm not an expert at phone hacking, but i'm a bit of a nerd and quite proficient with computers, and so after lots of reading and struggling I was able to work my way though it.

There have been many release candidates (RC, like beta versions) of android 2.3 gingerbread being released by the Cyanogenmod community, and i've been using android 2.3 gingerbread on my LG Optimus T for over a month now that incorporates the CM7 rom and tweaks it so that it works with the LG Optimus phone (CM is not releasing it specially for the Optimus phones). All this time the ROM i've been using has been in the beta stages, and now with the final release of CM7 there should be a 'final' release in the next couple of weeks. When this happens I will put up a new tutorial and video, and try to be more comprehensive and answer some of the lingering questions on youtube and on this blog. I may install a new recovery program as well, so I will show myself doing this from scratch so that people can see how it's done.

Till then, hit up the XDA developers forums if you have more specific problems!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Updated iPad 2 Rumours - No Retina Display, Beefy Internals

There has been controversy ever since the original rumours of a 'retina' display coming for the iPad 2 were released (double the resolution of the iPad 1). These rumours have been extremely exciting because a high resolution display would make reading text much easier, and make images much more clear. Many users find that after using the high resolution 'retina' display of the iPhone 4, they have a hard time going back to the iPad due to it looking fuzzy and unclear in comparison. The general consensus of amateur analysts has been that Apple WILL release a 'retina' display for the iPad eventually, but that due to costs and manufacturing constraints it will most likely not appear in the iPad 2.

The rumour released today suggests this very thing, with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities releasing a full list of specs for the upcoming iPad 2. The internal components are inline with previous rumours: A dual core A9 based CPU (although this rumour suggests it will clock in at 1.2 gHz, unlike previous rumours at 1 gHz), a dual core SGX 543 GPU, 512 megs of ram (many were hoping for 1 gig, but knowing Apple this always seemed unlikely), and dual cameras.

There are said to be some improvements coming to the display, "The improvement of iPad 2 display," the report notes, "focuses on thickness and anti-reflection, not resolution. iPad 2 display module is 30~35% thinner than iPad 1 and it’s helpful for better form factor. "

Keep in mind these are still just rumours, like all previous reports, and there is no guarantee what Apple will end up releasing until it's in our hands. I personally would have loved a 'retina' display, as it would have made it a much better book/PDF reader. I would much rather have used some of the iPad 2's new processing muscle to drive a high res display, rather than playing angry birds or Rage HD at a few extra frames per second. I suppose if they release a full featured iPhoto/iMovie suite with an SD card slot, as well as a file management system for storing data, the lack of a 'retina' display could be forgiven this time. A few highlight quotes from the release are as follows.

"iPad 2 will use [ARM] Cortex-A9 dual core processor running at 1.2GHz. Increasing 1~2% single core processor clock results in a 3~5% power increase and dual core could get a better balance between computing power and power consumption. That's the reason why Apple will use dual core for iPad 2."

"iPad 2 will also have a GPU using Imagination’s SGX543 dual core graphics technology which is 200~300% powerful than iPhone 4."

"For making full use of GPU upgrading advantage, iPad 2 needs bigger memory bandwidth. So iPad 2 has 512MB RAM, same as iPhone 4 and twice as much as iPad 1, but running at higher clock 1,066 MHz for getting bigger memory bandwidth (iPhone 4 memory clock is 800 MHz)."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

LG Optimus T / One Touchscreen Bug Fixed - No More Game Lag!!!

So a clever user "mik_os" over at the XDA developers forums have gone and fixed that pesky touchscreen bug with the LG Optimus T / One that has been driving everyone crazy. I touched on this in my previous posts/videos, but what happens is when there is an input event on the touchscreen (you touch it) the CPU usages spikes to 100% and causes games to lag horrible when touching the screen. Now with this new kernal games run great and I don't get any slowdown!

I will post up a video shortly comparing both phones (one without  the kernal, one with the kernal) running the same games for comparison.

You follow the same instructions as for the previous kernal installation. Make sure you do a full titanium backup first, then boot into recovery, do a full NAND backup (which doesn't appear to fully work on my phone, and seems to be a common bug everyone is having. Just make sure to have enough SD card memory space and hopefully it works regardless of the error), then go to flash from zip, flash the kernal, and boom you should be rolling.

I had a problem with my phone when I installed this kernal. I did everything I said above, but then got stuck into a boot-loop and couldn't get my phone to start. I had to go back into recovery, do a full wipe, re-flash the megatron zip-file, THEN flash the kernal, then boot up the phone and restore my settings/apps from titanium backup. Most people don't have this same problem I had, but like all of these 'hacks' just beware.

Monday, January 24, 2011

HP / Palm Topaz Tablet Leaked - 9.7", 1.2GHz Qualcomm MSM8660, Adreno 220 GPU

Images and a specifications sheet have leaked of the upcoming HP / Palm tablet, now being called 'Topaz'. This new tablet will be running webOS, and looks to have some pretty beefy specs with a dual core 1.2GHz Qualcomm MSM8660, and a fast Adreno 220 GPU. This was supposed to be revealed at a February 7th event, but it looks like the internet stole HP / Palms thunder. Further specs leaked at Engadget suggest "512MB of DDR2 memory, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera and dual-band 802.11b/g/n WiFi. We're told to expect an oleophobic Gorilla Glass screen with a standard XGA (1024 x 768) resolution, options for 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage, optional WWAN, an accelerometer, gyroscope, light sensor, microphone and a battery that'll last for around eight hours in ideal circumstances."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Video Tutorial - How to Root, Install Recovery, and Install Custom ROMs on LG Optimus T / One

In order to supplement my previous blog post where I provided general information and links on how to root, install a custom recovery, install a custom ROM, and overclock your LG Optimus T / One, I have created two new videos. Please use this video in conjunction with my previous blog post ( Please do this at your own risk as there is the possibility of bricking your phone (damaging it). I am NOT an expert or a developer, just someone who struggled through this process and thought people could really benefit from a more clear and concise guide on how to do this (instead of random information from different sources that is hard to follow). If you have problems or comments PLEASE post them in this blog and go to the XDA developers forum and search/post there!

Part 1:

Part 2:

WIND Mobile Offer Free Sim-Card to ANY Unsatisfied Mobilicity Customer

It seems that WIND has been really trying to keep ahead of Mobilicity. First they released their 'Holiday Miracle' plan that was essentially everything unlimited (including data) for only $40 per month (competing with Mobilicities similar unlimited promotional plan). Following this, Mobilicity continually extended this promotion, and each time WIND countered by also extending their promo. Now, WIND is really trying to bring you over from Mobilicity by offering a free SIM card. This means if you own a Mobilicity phone (they are all compatible with WIND) all you need to do is buy an unlock code online and you're set. WIND charges $25 for a SIM card without a phone (they are free with the purchase of a phone), so this will essentially cover your unlocking fee for your Mobilicity phone (usually around $10-25 depending on the phone and the unlocking website used).

Is this enough to make you switch from Mobilicity to WIND?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Motorola Xoom Launching February 17th for $699 - Best Buy

A leaked internal best buy memo has revealed that the Motorla Xoom tablet (Android 3.0 Honeycomb, is launching on February 17th. This news falls only a day after another leaked internal memo suggested a retail price of $800 for the Motorola Xoom. I will personally wait until some competing tablets from LG and HTC are launched, as well as the new iPad 2, before I go buying one.

UPDATE: A new rumour has suggested the price will be $699, which is a tad bit cheaper than the previously leaded Verizon pricing.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 Teaser - Real or Fake Video?

This teaser video included in the comments some rather beefy specs that have been said to be fake.  "Samsung will be introduce the new Galaxy-Tab-2 Tablet at MWC-2011 (Mobile World Congress Conference on Mobile Phones) and it features Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread (upgrade 3.0 Honeycomb), 3D Display (after upgrade to 3.0 Honeycomb), NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and rumors says a 7 inch Super-Amoled Display. We don´t think that this is real because SMD can not mass produce a 7 inch AMOLED yet. " More likely it will wait for Android 3.0 Honeycomb (hopefully) have a Tegra 2 processor, 1 gig of Ram, and the same resolution screen (but perhaps an upgraded version).

Source -

Friday, January 21, 2011

Good News For T-Mobile / Wind / Mobilicity Customers - T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Vibrant Updated to Android 2.2

Great news for customers of T-Mobile / Wind / Mobilicity, because the Vibrant is getting an official update to Android 2.2 froyo TODAY. This is wonderful news for Canadians as well, because the Vibrant can be purchased from Ebay for around $350-450 (typically used for this price range) and unlocked for use with WIND Mobile and Mobilicity.

UPDATE - It is now available through Samsungs Kies Mini PC app. See link below for full story at Engadget.

Motorola Changing Their Stance on Locked Bootloaders?

Motorola has apologized over facebook for it's terse comments made to a youtube user relating to their locked bootloader and installing custom ROMs (

"We apologize for the feedback we provided regarding our bootloader policy. The response does not reflect the views of Motorola. We are working closely with our partners to offer a bootloader solution that will enable developers to use our devices as a development platform while still protecting our users' interests. More detailed information will follow as we get closer to availability."

This sounds to me like desperate attempt to quench the backlash they were receiving. Lets hope that they stick to this new ideology involving the development community, because the Motorola Atrix ( looks VERY nice.

Triple Display Android Based Concept Phone Revealed -

Designer Kristian Ulrich Larsen has released a design concept for an Android phone composed of 3 foldable and re-arrangable touch screens. This is strictly a concept video / art project, but it's great to see people apply creativity and high design to a field like smart-phones that have a very 'cookie cutter' approach to their design (i.e. a brick with a touch screen). Like the Microsoft Courier, I doubt this phone will ever make its way into production, but at least it will get people thinking. What do you think?

Here is a video of the Microsoft Courier "vapourware" tablet that was supposed to compete with the iPad 1, but was never released. Some of the cross-screen talk reminds me of this Android concept phone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mobilicity Launching Google Nexus S in March, Blackberry Playbook When Released

Mobilicity CEO Dave Dobbin announced at a press meet-up today that they will be launching the Google Nexus S (official Google Android developer phone) in March alongside other major carriers, and they will also be getting the Blackberry Playbook whenever RIM decides to release it. This is great news for Android fans and Wind Mobile customers, because Mobilicity and Wind phones are compatible with each other and use the same AWS frequency bands. I personally find the timing to be non-ideal, because by that point there should be quite a few dual core Tegra 2 Android handsets on the market.

Motorola Confirms Locked Bootloader Not Going Anywhere, Hopefully Consumers Go Somewhere Else

You may have seen the video from CES 2011 showing off the impressive Motorola Atrix phone, complete with desktop and laptop docking accessories that essentially transformed the phone into a computer. Motorola has always locked down their bootloaders, meaning that the development community (Cyanogenmod, XDA developers, etc...) could not load their own custom ROMS, or at least would have a very hard time doing (i'm told that the droid X and droix 2 received custom ROMs after a lot of effort of cracking Motorola's bootloader). They have just confirmed that they won't be changing this policy any time soon, saying over youtube 

"@tdcrooks if you want to do custom roms, then buy elsewhere, we'll continue with our strategy that is working thanks." 

So i'm going to stick to my regular motto of never buying anything Motorola. I will gladly buy a phone from someone like LG, HTC, or Samsung. The Motorola XT720 was released with android 2.1 less then a year ago, and it will stay there forever (or until a developer cracks the bootloader, which they have not done yet). I don't know about you, but at the pace that Android is advancing (and how necessary the updates are to the speed and function of the phone) I refuse to do without updates like that. Installing custom ROMs is a great way to keep getting updates long after official support has been dropped. Now I know that not all ROMs constitute and actual Android update (many are just tweaked versions of the existing Android OS), but more often than not the new version of Android comes to a phone first through the developing community, and THEN officially (if ever). Check out the source below for more details. Keep in mind, this policy also applies to their upcoming Android 3.0 honeycomb tablet, the Motorola Xoom.

What do you all think? Will you buy a phone from Motorola knowing they lock the bootloader and you can never install custom ROMs?

LG Optimus T / One Video Review - Performance When Rooted With a Custom Overclocked ROM

Here is a video review I did to give everyone a look at how quick and snappy the LG Optimus T is after rooting, installing the custom ROM 'Megatron' from the XDA forums, and overclocking. Check out my other blog post on how to do this yourself, and I will post a video in the next few days giving a visual overview on how to do this yourself.

Please check out the source video at youtube for the HD version of this video!

John Gruber Rains on Our Parade - Says iPad 2 Will Have Same Resolution as iPad 1

The most exciting rumour i've heard about the upcoming iPad 2 is the possible double resolution retina display. Gruber states "its display may be improved in other ways — brighter, better power consumption, thinner, perhaps. Maybe it uses the new manufacturing technique Apple introduced with the iPhone 4 display, which brings the LCD closer to the surface of the touchscreen glass — making it look more like pixels on glass rather than pixels under glass. But my sources are pretty sure that it’s not 2048 × 1536 or any other “super high resolution”. Gruber also states that the high ram requirements would make a super high res display cost prohibitive, and he now questions the rest of the rumours found at engadget so far (dual core GPU, SD card slot, mini displayport, etc...).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LG Optimus T - Rooting, Recovery, ROM Installation, and Overclocking

EDIT - I have added a video review of this phone with these modifications made.

I have also added a video tutorial on how to do the following to your own phone. This video should be used as a supplement to this guide. Again, proceed at your own risk as I believe this voids your warranty. 

In my WIND Mobile phone buying guide, the LG Optimus T  came up as the best valued phone. I purchased two of these phones from ebay for around $250 each (canadian, including shipping, duty, tax, and unlocking fees). I've been told by other users that they have paid upwards of $300, but I guess it depends where you get it from. I'm going to go over how you can root your phone, install custom ROMs (custom unofficial versions of the firmware/operating system), and overclock your phone. Remember, this is not official and I believe voids the warranty of your phone, and there is a risk that if something goes wrong you can brick your phone (essentially destroy it, although sometimes recovering it is possible). The sites I am going to link you to give detailed walkthroughs and should outline the possible risks. I have done the following with two different LG Optimus T phones with no problems, but there is a risk i'm told. This processes can be a bit frustrating and challenging to figure out and it can be hard to find everything, so i've consolidated everything you need to this one post and provided links for each part. Remember, work carefully and proceed at your own risk!

Warning! This should only be performed on an LG Optimus T / One that has Android 2.2 froyo, NOT Android 2.2.1 froyo. Also this does NOT work with the Optimus S phone. You cannot root with Android 2.2.1 froyo firmware, and if you wish to continue to must DOWNGRADE to Android 2.2. Check "Settings - About Phone" and it should say 2.2. See the following link for more information on downgrading. The following thread also says that 2.2 is faster and more stable anyways, and suggests you use a class 4 or higher microSD card either way.

The first step is to root your phone. Luckily the program Z4root works as a 1-click rooting solution for the LG Optimus T. This application is no longer on the android market, but you can find it with a quick google search, or even better you can get it from the source at the XDA developers forums here.

The XDA developers are going to come up a lot, because they do a lot of the work in making custom ROMs, rooting phones, etc... 

Step 1) Download Z4root onto your computer and load it onto your phones microSD card.

Step 2) Download an APK manager/installer from the Android market. This program will allow you to find the APK file that you just downloaded from the web and put onto your SD card, and install it onto your phone.  

Step 3) Run Z4root and root your phone (permanent rooting option).

Step 4) Install custom recovery.
Now, once you've rooted you need to install a custom recovery program, found here.

This program allows you to boot your phone into 'recovery mode', which enables you to flash (install) custom ROMs (like version of the operating system),  custom kernals (custom settings that enable overclocking), and perform backups of your entire system and all your apps (using titanium backup and NAND backup). Don't worry about these details for now, just follow the link above and walk through the guide. I downloaded a terminal emulator on my phone from the market in order to enter the commands they have listed. When you download the terminal emulator, open it up and then type "su" without the quotation marks. It will then ask you for superuser/root permission, and click YES. Now you will have a # sign and you can go ahead and type all of the commands listed on the website I linked above. Keep in mind that you do NOT type the # symbol for each command line. The # symbol just indicates that you are in the root directory of your SD card. Keep in mind this command (# mv /system/etc/ /system/etc/ did NOT work for me, but as i've read it isn't supposed to. If you read through the questions and comments in the walkthrough thread for installing this ROM, someone asks about this step not working. The developers response is...

"You don't want that file (referring to there as it keeps recovery from "sticking" its not in all roms usually there ater you do an ota update. That command removes it. If its not there move on to next step."

So as you are going through and entering the commands, keep going even if this one gives an error (check the thread in the link and you'll read cases of other people who have had similar problems, and how they fixed them). As long as you're confident that you've typed in the commands as they are given, just keep going through them and hopefully it will work. Remember these are syntax sensitive, so make sure to copy them VERBATIM.  

Now keep in mind, I found installing the recovery to be the hardest part of this entire process. Also remember, all of these ZIP files you download (kernals, roms, recovery, etc...) must be copied over as the ZIP file. Do NOT unzip them and copy the contents to your SD card, this will NOT work. Once you have your phone rooted and the custom recovery install, you can quite easily install ANY ROM you want. This means that when people start releasing their custom 2.3 gingerbread ROMs (which usually come out long before the official firmware update is released) you can be the first one on the block to be running it.

Step 5) Download a custom ROM and flash it to your phone using the recovery you just installed. Now BEFORE you do anything, make sure to run a full backup. In the backup/restore section of the recovery, you want to do a full NAND backup. This custom ROM made over at the XDA forums will really make your phone fly. This one is called the Megatron ROM, and I really like it because it's really fast and pre-overclocked to 730 mhz. It has hardware acceleration enabled and a bunch of other fancy features that are NOT enabled with this phone stock. You will find window transitions, animations, and programs running much faster after installing this ROM. There are LOTS of different ROMs available to install, so head over to the XDA developers forum and check out what there is. I'm sticking with Megatron until android 2.3 gingerbread is released, but there are also other great options. There is even an alpha release of 2.3 gingerbread out right now for the Optimus T / One, although it isn't fully functioning and stable yet.

Step 6 (optional)) Install custom kernal to enable greater overclocking. The Megatron rom is plenty fast and is overclocked to 730 mhz without the need for any programs like SetCPU. If you want to go a bit higher, you can download a custom kernal here.

For the kernal you download it, move the zip file onto your SD card, boot into recovery mode, and then flash it from zip. Then when you reboot your phone you will be able to overclock past 730 mhz up to a stable 806 mhz. I've tried going higher, but 806 mhz seems to be the best stable speed to go with. Now in order to do this, you need the program SetCPU from the market. I had to buy this for 2-3 dollars, and it was worth it because I feel like my phone is a little bit more snappy at 806 mhz vs 730 mhz, but it's your choice. SetCPU also gives the option to scale back the CPU's clock speed when it isn't being used (i.e. when it's idle in your pocket), so I have mine set with a max of 806 mhz, and a minimum of 250 mhz.

EDIT - BIG news!!! You can go through that same process for step 6 to install the kernal for OC'ing, but a new kernal has been released that FIXES THE TOUCHSCREEN BUG!!!! So all of that crazy lag and slowdowns in games when you touch the screen (the CPU usages would spike to 100%) has been mostly fixed. This new kernal also allows overclocking the same as the one posted above at the start of step 6, so I would strongly advise to use this one instead!

Step 7) Here is a link to a thread at the XDA developers forum that was made as a central resource for all things LG Optimus T/One (these two phones are identical). You have the option of installing other ROMs and kernals you find, but these are the ones i've personally tried and that have worked well for me. Also, when a 2.3 gingerbread ROM is released, you can download it, load it to your SD card, boot into recovery, then flash the zip file and BOOM, you'll be running 2.3 gingerbread. Remember, before you do anything with new ROMs and kernals, always do a full NAND and nandroid backup from recovery, and do a full backup from Titanium backup. 

Step 8) Unlocking. I found this website to work perfectly for both of my LG Optimus T phones, and I got both codes within 12 hours.

An anonymous poster gave the following type in the comments section on unlocking.

"Also I suggest you add this in ur unlock section: this megatron rom is developed based on LP500, which is identical as LP509 but used by t-mobile in U.K. There is a possibility that the unlock code enter screen does not show up even you have the WIND SIM in place after reboot. Inorder to load the unlock code you'll need to type in: 2495#*500# instead 509, while other ROM developed based by other version require change the 500 to 510/507/511 etc. Mode number can be accessed by click "setting->about phone-> model number..

hope this helps.

make sure the unlock code is 16 digits no more no less...

i wasted four tries by entering 17 digits."

Step 9) Some benchmarks for my phone running the Megatron ROM, overclocked to 806 mhz.

With only Megatron ROM (730 mhz overclock built into the ROM):
Neocore - 48.1 FPS
Quadrant - 1221
Linpack - 8.767

With Megatron ROM and 806 mhz overclock:
Neocore - 51 FPS
Quadrant - 1350
Linpack - ~9.1

Stock phone out of the box with no tweaks:
Neocore - 44.0 FPS
Quadrant - 447
Linpack - 3.931

Overall I thought the phone was very nice and smooth stock, but it feels much smoother and nicer now! The menus and transitions are REALLY smooth, everything is great. Games stutter a bit here and there probably due to the touch screen bug, but hopefully 2.3 will fix that! I have angry birds which runs pretty well, just a bit choppy sometimes when my finger is on the screen. Again, this lag is caused by a problem in the Android code, which is supposed to be mostly fixed in Android 2.3 gingerbread.

Hope that was helpful, I will be following up with a short video review of my LG Optimus T, showing off the speed when using the Megatron ROM and 806 mhz overclock as discussed above!

Edit - Video is up! Go to the youtube page to view this video in HD!

Wind Mobile Extends Coverage in Vancouver Area

I just received a text message from Wind Mobile informing me "Great news! Your Vancouver WIND Zone has extended its coverage to Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, and Whistler."

I never frequent those zones, but hey, less roaming is good right?

Android Honeycomb 3.0 - Tablet Specific Operating System Demo on a Motorola Xoom Tablet

Here is a 10 minute video that was shot at CES 2011 where the upcoming Android 3.0 Honeycomb, tablet specific OS was demonstrated. I've been using android phones for the last 6-8 months and I LOVE the widgets and notifications bars, but just as iOS was/is not ideal for the iPad in a tablet form factor, Android 2.2 froyo and 2.3 gingerbread are not ideal for a tablet either. When I use an iPad, it makes me think of a gameboy. There is a huge disconnect between running each app, which has only been mildly improved with iOS 4 and the introduction of multitasking. The widget system and notifications bar in Android really helps to make the system feel more unified, and helps to bring a lot of information to your fingertips very quickly. Instead of having to open 10 different apps on the iPad (calendar, music, twitter, facebook, email, music, weather, alarm clock, news feed) I can have them all on my home screens with Android. Honeycomb seems to be really pulling this all together with a UI that is really fitting for a tablet. I'm really hoping this competition stirs Apple from it's slumber and prompts them to really come out with something fantastic for iOS 5. We've already been seeing in rumours that Apple is responding to the hardware competition with the iPad, and here in this video you're seeing the software competition it needs to respond to. The great warranty support, fast updates (no fragmentation), and the fantastic app store (lets me honest, the Android market is terrible) makes the iPad squeak ahead no matter what, but it's still nice to see them competing.

Below is a link to the Engadget article about Android honeycomb 3.0.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Motorola Atrix - Even Though I Would Never Buy a Motorola Product, This was the Coolest Thing at CES 2011!

The Motorola Atrix is a new generation of smart phone, with tons of power and some cool new features. This phone sports beefy hardware with a Tegra dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and support for up to 48GB of memory, a 4-inch QHD display (or 960 x 540), a front-facing VGA camera and 5-megapixel with an LED flash, a 1930 mAh battery, fingerprint login security, and Android 2.2 froyo. The most amazing thing is watching it plugged into a dock (with a large LCD monitor, keyboard, and mouse attached), or a laptop dock (essentially a laptop screen, keyboard, trackpad, and battery, with the Atrix phone acting as the actual computer). Seeing this in action really makes me think of the future when cell phones will totally replace computers for most people. 

Now the one problem with this phone is that it looked great at the CES tech demo, but in the real world I can see it starting to slow down a bit. This is the first time a smart phone is really trying to pull double duty as a desktop/laptop computer, and although these dual core Tegra 2 phones are insanely powerful for mobile phones, they are a bit sluggish for a regular computer. The other huge problem is that there aren't really any good apps out right now on the Android market that would take advantage of a keyboard and mouse setup like this. I would wait another year for the next generation of these phones that will be even more powerful and more ready to step into the role of a laptop, and by then some great apps will hopefully have come out. In the meantime i'd focus my attention on a good tablet (the iPad 2 is shaping up to be pretty skookum, at least in the rumours) and just get a decent phone that works well as a PHONE (the LG Optimus T/One is my favourite). Oh, did I mention that Motorola is notorious for NOT updating their phones to new software? Have fun being stuck at android 2.2 for eternity on your brand new Motorola Atrix phone (did I also mention that motorola locks the bootloaders of their phones, so you CANNOT install custom roms?). Android is great and I love my LG Optimus T, but Android is in what I would call an 'advanced beta' stage, and at this point updates are mandatory for an overall good experience. This is the one major reason (aside from the awesome app store) that I think Apple is winning the smart phone / tablet war (I will make a detailed post about this coming up).

(Motorola Atrix phone, shown docked to it's laptop accessory)

More iPad 2 Info - Mini Displayport and SD Card Slot?

The SD card slot rumour isn't new, but the mini displayport rumour IS new. Mini displayport is currently used on all new apple computers, and would potentially allow the iPad 2 to connect to an external apple cinema display (fancy dock connector like the Motorola Atrix, anyone?). The SD card slot doesn't really need any explanation, but it would be nice to stick in pictures and videos and PDF documents. It would also make a lot of sense if Apple included expanded versions of iMovie and iPhoto with iPad 2, so you could do your editing on it as well.

(iPad 2 case from Chinese source. Please click for full image)

Wind Mobile Cell Phone Buying Guide

So unless you've been living under a rock (or maybe not a complete nerd I guess) you've heard of Wind Mobile in Canada. They are trying to break into the cellular market and snatch customers away from the big 3 (Rogers, Telus, Bell). I pretty much hate all of the incumbents in the Canadian wireless market, and so just the idea of a new entrant was really exciting to me (keep in mind, Fido, Virgin, Koodo, etc... are all owned by one of the big 3). Up until the end of January 2011, Wind Mobile is having an INCREDIBLE sale, with a wireless package that gives you unlimited everything for only $40 a month. Unlimited talk Canada/US wide, unlimited texting Canada/US wide, unlimited DATA, seriously unlimited. So the question now is what phone to get that works with Wind? Wind Mobile uses the same frequencies as T-Mobile in the US, and is NOT compatible with any of the other wireless companies in Canada, except Mobilicity. One thing I need to make very clear as well, there is NO iPhone anywhere in the world that will work with Wind Mobile. It doesn't matter if it's unlocked, or even the new CDMA Verizon iPhone, it will NOT work with Wind. This may change this summer with the iPhone 5, but we'll see.

I have compiled a chart of compatible phones with Wind, their specs, general pricing, and where they are available. Notice these are all Android phones. If you like blackberries, you won't find much info here, but then again if you like blackberries you probably want them for the BBM (blackberry messenger) and business related stuff. I caught some flack when I posted this chart to a Wind Mobile forum ( because I left off a lot of high end T-Mobile Android phones like the G2, mytouch 4G, and Samsung Vibrant (Galaxy S). I did this in purpose because I was looking for the best budget phones, since i'm a graduate student (graduate student is synonymous with over worked and under paid). I am also of the opinion that the official Android developers phone, the Google Nexus S, is the only high end Android phone people should consider at this moment (at least until the new dual core tegra 2 based phones start rolling out). The reason for this is because it is the ONLY phone that reliably and quickly gets Android updates. 

(Google Nexus S - official google developer phone guaranteed to get the fastest Android updates)

At this stage in the life of Google Android it is basically an advanced beta operating system with many bugs, and for this reason each new version of Android brings many improvements in performance and stability. Most phones take many months (to a year) to get an update, and even then many of them are NEVER upgraded. For example the Sony Xperia X10 (available at Mobilicity) and the Motorola XT720 (available at Wind Mobile) are both running Android 2.1 and will NEVER be upgraded past that. Android 2.2 froyo has been out for half a year or so, and 2.3 gingerbread was just released last month. Both 2.2 and 2.3 brought some drastic 'behind the scenes' improvements to Android, and due to the greed of the two previously mentioned phone companies they will NEVER be updated. They would prefer if you went out and bought their new phones...

(please click on picture to see full chart)

Now having said that, i'm going to strongly recommend the LG Optimus T (from T-Mobile in the US, must be purchased off ebay and then unlocked) because it is cheap (I bought 2 off ebay and paid between $240-250 Canadian, including shipping, tax, duty, and unlocking, but many people pay up to $300). The Google Nexus S might be a higher end phone with guaranteed fast updates, but it also costs around $600-700 Canadian all said and done. The Lg Optimus T is a very nice and capable phone, and with some rooting and custom ROMs (a custom ROM is like a custom firmware that is tweaked to run faster) I've got mine overclocked from 600 mhz up to 800 mhz, and running VERY smooth. I will another blog post outlining the general process for doing this, and the resource I used to figure it out (mostly the XDA developers forums). One of the most important things here is that the LG Optimus T comes pre-loaded with Android 2.2 froyo, and Lg has promised to update it to Android 2.3 in the near future. On the other hand the Galaxy S Vibrant has JUST got android 2.2 and will probably never officially get 2.3 gingerbread. 

(T-mobile LG Optimus T, same hardware as the LG Optimus One, but using the correct frequencies to be compatible with Wind Mobile and Mobilicity in Canada)

One other phone that is not listed that should be considered for people wanting a higher end phone than the Optimus T, but that don't want to pay upwards of $700 canadian for it. I was recently informed that you can purchase a T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Vibrant phone (high end Galaxy S phone that is nearly identical to the Google Nexus S) for around $350-450 Canadian from ebay. This is obviously a very good deal for such a fast phone, and if you are computer savy and able to root and install custom roms, you could continue getting future updates long after Samsung officially stops giving them out (and it looks like froyo 2.2 is where Samsung will stop, unfortunately). 

(Samsung Galaxy Vibrant for T-Mobile, compatible with Wind and Mobilicity and overall the best phone for Wind for the money. I opted for the LG Optimus T since I got it for significantly less ($250 versus $400-450))

The best Android phone that Wind sells is the Motorola XT720, and I have to say that for the price this phone is a terrible deal. It will NEVER be updated beyond 2.1, has only 256 megs of ram, and Motorola is an awful company that is known for abandoning perfectly good phones and leaving all customers in the mud. Wind is supposed to be releasing a Samsung Galaxy S phone very soon, and I was told by several people working at Wind that they are currently testing it.

I would not recommend buying any android phone from Wind at this time. 

  1. The best budget Android phone to use with Wind and Mobilicity is the Lg Optimus T from T-mobile, ordered off ebay. $200-300 Canadian including shipping, tax, duty, and unlocking.
  2. The best overall phone for Wind and Mobilicity is the Samsung Galaxy Vibrant. It costs a bit more at around $350-450 from ebay, but it is quite a bit more powerful than the LG Optimus T, and nearly identical to the Google Nexus S.
  3. The best android phone you can buy right now is the Google Nexus S, because as I said it is the official Google phone and gets updates. It gets ALL the updates, right away, and for Android that is really important. This will cost you $600-700 Canadian and so if money is no option this is great, otherwise I'd personally stick with one of the two previous options (I got two LG Optimus T phones for my girlfriend and I). 
  4. Things will change in the next couple of months when the dual core Tegra 2 monsters start rolling out (Lg Optimus 2X, Motorola Atrix, etc...).
Comments and suggestions are appreciated!

I will soon post my brief review of the Lg Optimus T, as well as a quick guide to rooting, and where to find the info you need to install fast, overclocked, custom roms. Click a few of the adds on this page if you found this useful!

RIM Playbook - The Blackberry Tablet People Might Actually Buy Now That it Doesn't Have to be Married to a Blackberry.

The rumour has been going around that in order to properly utilize the upcoming Playbook tablet, you would also need to have a blackberry phone (to sync contacts, calendar, etc...). Thankfully that is NOT true as confirmed today by RIM senior product manager. This is great news, because now someone might actually BUY one of these things.

(RIM Blackberry Playbook)

For those of you who are unaware, below is a link to the engadget coverage of the RIM Playbook demo at CES 2011. The video on the link below shows off a beautiful UI on the tablet, along with smooth multitasking of quake 3, 1080p video, a slide show, and music all at the same time! This was very impressive at the time, but with all of the rumours for the potential powerhouse iPad 2, i'm becoming less impressed.

More Confirmation of iPad 2 High Resolution 'Retina' Display

An addition image of a wood background found in the new iOS 4.3 developers release shows a doubled resolution, further supporting previous rumours of an high resolution screen for the upcoming iPad 2.  This confirms 2 X resolution and 4 X pixels on screen, which makes me want to empty my bank account already!

Apple iPad 2 - Rumours are Buzzing

In the last week we've gone from 0-60 in terms of the iPad 2 rumour mill. The consumer electrons show (CES) 2011 just finished off a couple of weeks ago, and all we saw were android phones and tablets. There were some awesome Tegra 2 based hardware (dual core A9 ARM CPU's with Nvidia graphics chips), and some impressive demo's of Androids new Honeycomb mobile OS, and RIM's new Playbook.

The only thing relating to the iPad 2 at CES were some early case designs from 3rd party manufacturers, that contained some interesting fake iPad 2 models that seemed to confirm a slimmer iPad with dual cameras, and a large speaker port (or possibly SD card slot?)

(iPad 2 model in a preliminary case shown at CES 2011, suggesting dual cameras are coming)

Now shortly after CES, the rumours about the iPad 2 are FLYING, and I have to say i'm really excited. Apple is known for underwhelming in the internal hardware specs department, but backing it up with a massive and robust application store (the app store), a rock solid and smooth interface with their iOS mobile operating system, and their top quality and very stylish hardware. Based on previous doings by Apple, I would have expected the iPad 2 to have a slight processor bump and the addition of a front facing camera in order to use their video chat program Facetime. These recent rumours are ONLY rumours, nothing has been or will be confirmed by Apple until it's official release, but things are looking REALLY good.

(A4 SOC from iPhone 4 / iPad)

Rumours first started coming in about Apple adding a Retina display to the iPad 2, but many people dismissed this based on the hardware that would be needed to run this. Image files found in a new version if iBooks that came with the developer release of iOS 4.3 suggested an increase in screen resolution on the upcoming iPad 2. A 'retina display' is just Apples marketing buzzword for a high resolution display with a high pixel density so that text and images appear very smooth and crisp (like the iPhone 4). When doing this, the easiest way is to just double the current resolution (as was done with the iPhone 4 from 320x480 to 640x960) so that developers can easily scale up existing applications and not have to completely re-write everything from scratch. Doubling the existing iPad resolution from 1024x768 resolution (at 132 ppi) to 2048x1536 (at 260 ppi) would quadruple the number of pixels on screen and make everything much more crisp and sharp. Also as you could imagine, this would drastically increase the demand on graphics processor (GPU), ram, and CPU. As I mentioned before, Apple isn't known for leading the industry in hardware specs, but rather of the software and design side, and so these rumours seemed dubious.

(iPhone 3GS left, iPhone 4 retina display on right)

Now, to back up the increased screen resolution, reports are coming in that the iPad 2 will sport a new dual core powerVR SGX543 GPU (two GPU cores, VS the single GPU core found in all current phones/tablets, and in the recently announced Tegra 2 tablets and phones). This will supposedly give approximately 4 times the graphics processing power, which conveniently could handle the 4 times increase in pixels on the new high resolution screen. Apple is also said to be including their own custom dual core CPU based on the A9 architecture, which most likely will contain 512 or 1 gigabyte of ram. On the CPU front we will most likely see two 1 gigahertz A9 cores, which would more than double the CPU performance of the iPad 2. Most competitors are including 1 gig of ram, so if Apple is going 'all out' on the CPU, GPU, and screen, they might just go for a gig of ram. This, coupled with the already lingering rumours of dual cameras for Facetime video chatting, the iPad 2 is really shaping up to be a killer.

(The original iPad)

To summarize the currently rumoured iPad 2 specs.

  • Dual core custom SOC based on A9 architecture, probably 1 ghz (two CPU cores each running at 1 ghz vs the single CPU core of the first generation iPad running at 1 ghz)
  • Dual core powerVR SGX543 GPU (two GPU cores)
  • Probably 512 megs - 1 gig of ram
  • Dual cameras
  • 10 inch 'Retina display' - double resolution and quadruple pixel screen at 2048x1536 (at 260 ppi)
  • Possibly upgraded speaker
  • Possible addition of a new port (possibly SD card slot and/or microUSB port)
  • Possible smaller and lighter case

In comparision, here are the specs for the RIM Playbook.

(RIM Playbook)

  • Dual core cortex-A9 architecture 1 ghz CPU
  • Signle core GPU (possibly Tegra 2 chipset)
  • 1 gig of ram
  • 3 megapixel front facing camera, 5 megapixel rear camera
  • 7-inch 1024x600 display
The Tegra 2 based tablets such as the Motorola Xoom will have similar specs to the Playbook, but with 10 inch screens like the iPad. So if the rumours are true, the iPad 2 will beat the competion in terms of specs, it will beat them in terms of fashion and design (as always), it will beat them in multimedia and applications (the app store trumps the android market), and depending on how Android Honeycomb turns out, could also beat them in terms of software. I just went from wanting an android honeycomb tablet to wanting the new iPad 2, very badly.

(Motorola Xoom - Android honeycomb based tablet)