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The iPad 2: What is known, what is unknown Read more about next-generation iPad by ssysadmin.com

We’re just 48 hours away from getting our first look at the long-awaited, next-generation iPad—or that’s what we’re expecting, at least.\r\n\r\n

iPad 2
iPad 2
\r\n\r\nIndeed, with all the leaks, rumors, and wild guesses we’ve been hearing in the past months about the next iPad, it’s easy to forget that Apple hasn’t even officially announced the thing yet, much less doled out any details or pictures.\r\n\r\nSince we still have a couple days to kill before Apple ends the suspense, now might a good time to summarize what we know, what we think we know, and—most importantly—what we definitely don’t know about the iPad 2.\r\n\r\nWhat we know\r\n\r\nThe original iPad is still the only iPad, for now: Like I just said, Apple has yet to announce, acknowledge, make veiled references to, or even hint at a new iPad. Well … strike that: during Apple’s most recent quarterly earnings call, Apple COO Tim Cook told analysts (who’d been asking about competition from impending Android-based tablets) that “we’re not sitting still” in terms of the tablet market, a remark that may qualify as a vague hint.\r\n\r\nApple is holding an iPad-related event Wednesday: The invitations went out last week, with an image showing a Mac OS calendar page peeled back to reveal an iPad peeking out from behind. The caption: “Come see what 2011 will be the year of.” So yes—the writing’s on the wall, but the invite stops short of saying “come meet the iPad 2” or anything like that.\r\n\r\nLast but not least, we know that … uh … : If we’re only talking about things we definitely know about the next iPad … well, strictly speaking, we don’t know much more than what I just outlined above. Oh, wait: Wednesday’s Apple event will be held in San Francisco, at 10 in the morning local time. And iPad-related topics are on the agenda. There you go.\r\n\r\nWhat we don’t know\r\n\r\nWhat it’ll be called: Everyone’s been calling the next iPad the “iPad 2,” and there’s even a new (and likely fan-generated) rendering of the next-generation tablet floating around with the “iPad 2” name stamped on the back. But as far as I know, no one’s come out and reported that the iPad 2 will, in fact, be called the iPad 2. Apple’s been known to throw curve balls when it comes to naming its next-gen products (like, for example, the iPhone 3G and 3GS), so I wouldn’t put all my eggs in the “iPad 2” basket.\r\n\r\nHow much internal storage it’ll have: Will we get an iPad 2 model with 128GB of built-in flash storage, or will the largest next-gen iPad still top out at 64GB? Hard to say. There have been scattered reports of iPad 2 mockups with “128GB” etched onto the back, but that may be more a case of wishful thinking than a concrete clue. I predict the priciest iPad will still offer “just” 64GB of flash storage (which still costs a premium compared to conventional disc-based hard drives), but that’s only a guess on my part.\r\n\r\nHow much it will cost: Apple is in the habit of marking its next-generation products with the same price as the previous generation, and there’s no reason to believe that Cupertino will change course with the iPad 2. Again, though, we’ve yet to hear any reliable rumors about pricing. (For the record, the current iPad costs anywhere from $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only version to $829 for the 64GB 3G iPad.)\r\n\r\nWhen it will ship: Conventional wisdom initially had it that the new iPad would probably hit stores about a month or so after being announced, but now there’s talk the iPad 2 might be available immediately. Maybe so, but personally, I’m hedging my bets until Apple serves up the official line.\r\n\r\nWhat we think we know\r\n\r\nSlimmer profile, less heft: Just about everyone seems to agree that the redesigned iPad will be “smaller” and “lighter” than its predecessor, complete with a flatter back and tapered edges. Indeed, chatter about a slimmed-down iPad 2 shell has been so consistent (not to mention a logical progression for the iPad line) that I’d be shocked if it didn’t come to pass Wednesday.\r\n\r\nA camera, or two: Another consistent iPad 2 rumor has it that Apple will fix one of the biggest criticisms of the original iPad—namely, the lack of a camera. A recent Wall Street Journal story claimed that the new iPad will have “at least” one camera in front for FaceTime video chat, and there have been countless sightings of purported iPad 2 cases with strategically placed holes in back for a second, rear-facing lens. While there still seems to be some lingering doubt about a second camera, a front-facing lens is pretty much a no-brainer, particularly since each and every iPad competitor out there has one.\r\n\r\nSame-resolution display: The hot rumor back in December had it that the iPad 2 would arrive with a sharper, 2,048-by-1,536 pixel display, good for a “retina”-style screen similar to the one on the iPhone 4. But the latest word and some leaked spy shots have poured cold water on the buzz, and it’s now looking almost certain that the revamped iPad display will come with a 1,024-by-768-resolution display, same as the original. Oh well. (Don’t worry; recent chatter has it that the iPad 3—yes, 3—might get the retina-display treatment.)\r\n\r\nFaster, beefier processor: “Dual-core” is the gotta-have spec when it comes to this year’s hottest smartphones and gadgets, and the iPad 2 is no exception. Most believe the revamped tablet will get an updated, dual-core version of Apple’s A4 “system-on-a-chip,” complete with 512MB of RAM (double the 256MB RAM in the original iPad) and some seriously souped-up graphics capabilities.\r\n\r\nBetter speaker: The new iPad is reportedly in line for an improved, “wide-ranged” speaker, with the more prominent speaker grille said to be sitting right where the current three-hole speaker on the first iPad lives. Or so they say.\r\n\r\nNo SD card: An SD (or microSD) card slot on the next iPad would allow for easy memory expansion and speedy photo uploading. It’s a nice idea, but early buzz on Apple adding an SD card slot to the iPad has given way to near-universal agreement that it won’t actually happen. Bummer.\r\n\r\nNo 4G support: Not on Verizon Wireless, at least, according to the Wall Street Journal, which adds that the 3G version of the iPad 2 will be available through AT&T and Verizon but not Sprint or T-Mobile.\r\n\r\nSource: yahoonews, W3

Nokia N8 First Look Preview

We were almost starting to suspect mobile phones of giving up and playing soft. They seemed unstoppable. They went from 5 to 12 in no time and there was nothing to suggest that digicams will ever get a timeout for a much needed breather. Surprised or not, the game is back on and Nokia are pulling the big guns out. The N8 is the new wannabe king of cameraphones. \r\n\r\n

Nokia N8 Preview
Nokia N8 Preview
\r\n\r\nFeature enrich sheet and all that shining armor, the new Nseries flagship is hitting hard and playing tough. The Nokia N8 has two massive tasks on its hands: beat digicams at their own game and bring Symbian back to its past glory.\r\n\r\nNokia N8 at a glance:\r\n

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  • General: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, UMTS 850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz, HSDPA 10.2 Mbps, HSUPA 2 Mbps
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  • Form factor: Touchscreen bar
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  • Dimensions: 113.5 x 59.1 x 12.9 mm, 86 cc; 135 g
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  • Display: 3.5-inch 16M-color nHD (360 x 640 pixels) AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
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  • Memory: 16GB storage memory, hot-swappable microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
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  • OS: Symbian^3
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  • CPU: ARM 11 680 MHz processor, 3D Graphics HW accelerator; 256 MB RAM
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  • Camera: 12 megapixel large-sensor (1/1.83”) autofocus camera with xenon flash, geo-tagging, face and smile detection and built-in ND filter; 720p video recording@25fps
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  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v3.0 with A2DP, microUSB port with USB host support, 3.5mm audio jack, GPS receiver with A-GPS, HDMI port
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  • Misc: Accelerometer, DivX/XviD video support, Stereo FM radio with RDS, FM transmitter, 720p TV-out, Flash support in the web browser, anodized aluminum unibody, proximity sensor, scratch-resistant display
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  • Battery: 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery
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  • As you see the hardware is all there – there’re not too many devices out there that can match the Nokia N8. Some will understandably frown at what looks like unimpressive CPU clock speed and scarce RAM. Just remember that it’s the performance to be judged here and not the sheer numbers.
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  • Different platforms have different needs so we’ll only know if Symbian^3 can do without a 1GHz Snapdragon after we’ve seen the N8 in proper action.
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\r\n12 MP camera\r\n\r\nLet’s be honest – it’s the reason why you are here. The Nokia N8 hopes to change the way we perceive cameraphones, by making the shooter its leading feature. Nokia did their homework and packed the device with the largest sensor a mobile phone has seen (stretching to 1/1.83″ inches). It has an advantage of roughly 50% over regular 1/2.5″ sensors found in the Samsung Pixon12 and the Sony HX5 that we recently featured in a blind camera shootout. The larger sensor surface should benefit its low-light capabilities and dynamic range greatly.\r\n\r\nBut it doesn’t end there – the Nokia N8 also comes with a mechanical shutter, a powerful xenon flash, a 28mm wide-angle lens and a front lens made out of reinforced glass. The built-in ND filter will compensate for the lack of variable aperture in those extremely bright conditions when you just cannot increase the shooting speed any more.\r\n\r\nJudging by the results of the blind test we conducted yesterday, the company has also managed to deliver on the image quality front as the Nokia N8 managed to convincingly outdo the previous cameraphone ruler, the Samsung Pixon12 and an expensive compact digicam such as the Sony DSC-HX5v Cyber-shot. And here come the promised full resolution samples from the three cameras so you can check them out.\r\n\r\nTo be honest we are a bit surprised by the results. No, we are not saying that the N8 does something wrong and its win isn’t deserved. Right on the opposite – the handset is undoubtedly the best cameraphone in existence.\r\n\r\nIt’s just that the company’s philosophy with the N8 is to do as little processing as possible, giving the image a natural look, rather than going for more saturated colors and higher contrast. We thought that this approach won’t produce images as appealing to the wide audience. As it turns out we were in the wrong and the Nokia imaging team really knew what they were doing.\r\n\r\nThe well-measured in-camera post-processing has kept the images from the excessive noise that you usually get when you boost color channels to achieve more pumped up color output.\r\n\r\nPlus it allows you to fiddle with the images in post processing leaving quite some room to work with.\r\n\r\nNokia imaging team also had a very sensible approach to noise suppression, wiping away colored chroma noise, but leaving the more bearable luminance noise be, which allowed them to retain as much fine detail as possible.\r\n\r\nAdd all those factors together and you will see why the Nokia N8 managed to trash the competition in the high ISO part of yesterday’s test. Elsewhere things were more evenly matched with the large sensor advantage not as noticeable in good lighting. Yet, even then, the Finnish flagship cameraphone delivers slightly more resolution.\r\n\r\nAnother thing that came to our attention in the test is the fact that the N8 lens unit has almost no geometrical imperfections unlike the Pixon12 lens, which has notable barrel distortion. There’s no fringing too.\r\n\r\nThe cell phone world has found its new camera champion in the face of Nokia N8 and the digicams are starting to feel the heat. We didn’t need that much time to realize that, but we are still examining the margin of the N8 win. That final question should get its answers once our full review is complete.\r\n\r\nRecording\r\n\r\nThe Nokia N8 does well on the video end too – it offers 720p recording at 25 fps, which is on par with the best in class. However the Nseries new king also offers very important extra that can easily make it stand out against the competition – its 3x digital zoom.\r\n\r\nYou won’t hear us praising digital zooming in any way, but with the Nokia N8 it’s different. Most cameraphones zoom in by cropping a part of the live video stream and then upsizing it back to 720p, making up for severely pixilated or blurry result.\r\n\r\nUnlike its competitors, the Nokia N8 shoots regular 720p video by using all the 12 megapixels worth of its sensor and when it’s time for zooming, it uses these 12 megapixels as a source.\r\n\r\nAs a result there’s always enough resolution to crop from for a magnifications so the resulting 720p videos are always top-notch for magnifications up to 3 times.\r\n\r\nThe bad news is that we found a strange bug – the Nokia N8 only starts doing that smart zooming when you are at about 2x. Before that it behaves identically to every other handset out there and looses quality. We’ve prepared a short video to make our point more clear (the effect is best perceived when you watch it fullscreen).\r\n\r\nWe are really hoping that Nokia will step up and fix this up in a future firmware update. Before that we suggest you set the zoom in your N8 to either the widest position or close to the longest end (2-3x).

Lumix Phone finally unveiled at CEATEC

At CEATEC (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) 2010 in Chiba, Japan, Panasonic exhibited the Lumix Phone, amid some significant excitement as they had teased the specs in a release the previous week.\r\n

\r\nWhile it remains to be seen exactly how good the Lumix Phone is, it’s certainly interesting to see a product that at least approaches the model of a camera with a phone rather than a just another phone with a camera. Despite carrying the Lumix brand, the Lumix Phone is in the end still a phone. But the camera is no slouch boasting a 13 megapixel CMOS sensor and a 27mm wide-angle lens. Glancing at the front face one might be inclined to think that there’s an optical zoom on the Lumix Phone, but unfortunately that’s not the case.\r\n\r\nThe phone features a slide-out key/number pad, a 3.3-inch LCD screen with 854×400 resolution, and a micro SDHC slot for storage. It will have Wi-Fi and DLNA support as well. No details on the processor other than the fact that it’s been branded with the catchy “Mobile VenusEngine” moniker.\r\n

\r\n\r\nAny enthusiasm generated by Panasonic’s teaser release last week was significantly muted by the Lumix Phone’s presentation at CEATEC. We’d have liked to have spent some hands-on time with the phone but the demo models were all kept locked away in quiet corner of the Docomo booth under a glass case. Apparently there were some at the Panasonic booth too, though it seems that display was ‘no-touch’ as well.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFor more information, Panasonic has put up a Japanese-language Lumix Phone website, accessible via http://LumixPhone.jp which then redirects to this product page. According to Asahi, Docomo will be selling the Lumix Phone by March of next year.\r\n\r\n

\r\nAt CEATEC (Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies) 2010 in Chiba, Japan, Panasonic exhibited the Lumix Phone, amid some significant excitement as they had teased the specs in a release the previous week. While it remains to be seen exactly how good the Lumix Phone is, it’s certainly interesting to see a product that at least approaches the model of a camera with a phone rather than a just another phone with a camera.\r\nDespite carrying the Lumix brand, the Lumix Phone is in the end still a phone. But the camera is no slouch boasting a 13 megapixel CMOS sensor and a 27mm wide-angle lens. Glancing at the front face one might be inclined to think that there’s an optical zoom on the Lumix Phone, but unfortunately that’s not the case.\r\nThe phone features a slide-out key/number pad, a 3.3-inch LCD screen with 854×400 resolution, and a micro SDHC slot for storage. It will have Wi-Fi and DLNA support as well. No details on the processor other than the fact that it’s been branded with the catchy “Mobile VenusEngine” moniker.\r\nAny enthusiasm generated by Panasonic’s teaser release last week was significantly muted by the Lumix Phone’s presentation at CEATEC. We’d have liked to have spent some hands-on time with the phone but the demo models were all kept locked away in quiet corner of the Docomo booth under a glass case. Apparently there were some at the Panasonic booth too, though it seems that display was ‘no-touch’ as well.\r\nFor more information, Panasonic has put up a Japanese-language Lumix Phone website, accessible via http://LumixPhone.jp which then redirects to this product page. According to Asahi, Docomo will be selling the Lumix Phone by March of next year.