Posts Tagged ‘Spending’
Today sees the release of The Walk, an iOS and Android game backed by the UK’s Department of Health. It’s the second release in a collection of apps funded as part of the UK’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI). The first — StepJockey, an app …
Microsoft started a huge advertising campaign for Windows 8 and Surface during its launch last year, but the company is reportedly planning to spend even more this year for Windows 8.1. Winsupersite reports that Microsoft spent $ 241 million on retail Windows efforts last year, but that it’s expected to spend around $ 405 million this year. $ 131 million is said to be related to offers and incentives, while the rest ($ 274 million) will be spent on marketing and operating expenses.
The aim of the big spend is to push Windows tablets in retail stores. Microsoft is reportedly aiming for around 16 million Windows tablet sales over the holiday season, with improvements to its marketing and retail efforts being the main changes to help…
It's All Fan And Games: Spending Some Cash On The Xbox Live Ultimate Game …
This week saw a bevy of sales on Xbox Live. I think I dropped about 60 bucks and got six games. They were dirt cheap. Some of the deals even rivaled bargain bin prices in retail stores. The Ultimate Sale may be over, but you can still pick up a lot of …
Read more on CBS Local
'GTA 5' could hurt PS4 and Xbox One launch sales
The upcoming multiplatform video game, “GTA 5,” could hurt the launch sales for the PS4 and Xbox One. According to a report by MCVUK on July 5, a retailer stated that non-core gamers will have a hard time trying to convince themselves of purchasing the …
Read more on Examiner.com
Nintendo defends Wii U region locking after Xbox One reversal
After Facebook and Twitter campaigns, an online petition, and even a Miiverse outcry all calling for Nintendo to remove region locking from the Wii U, the company is defending its decision to keep it in place. In an interview with IGN, Nintendo …
Read more on The Verge
Yahoo has not been shy about acquiring mobile app companies, and the latest is a relatively popular to-do app called Astrid. The announcement comes just over a month after Yahoo acquired Summly, which the company has already leveraged into a feature in its own news app. What will happen to Astrid is less clear right now, though the mobile company implies that it will be shutting down the service in 90 days and says that Yahoo will be issuing refunds to some of the people who have purchased premium packages.
Astrid also says it will “be in touch with users shortly to share how to download data.” The app was (and still will be for a short while longer) available on both iOS and Android, with a focus on voice-input. It also included some…
Nokia’s Cheapest Windows Phone 8 Lumia, The 620, Offers The Spending plan Android Pack A Run For Its Cash
The Nokia Lumia 620 is not a crown jewel smartphone — for high-end Windows Phone hardware, look to the Lumia 920 (or Samsung Ativ S). However what makes the 620 interesting is its (low) cost: this is an entry-level phone that puts a polished mobile computing experience in your pocket without breaking the bank or compromising usability with dire, underpowered hardware.
When Nokia revealed the 620 back in December it discussed wishing to include something more compact to its schedule. And the phone is certainly pocket-friendly. But the size of the 620 ′ s price-tag is the real focus here: the Lumia 620 is Nokia ’ s most affordable Windows Phone 8 gadget without a doubt (the Lumia 510 is less costly still but that smartphone runs WP7.5 / 7.8, not WP8). Nokia ’ s target markets for the 620 are currently Asia-Pac, the Middle East and Africa, Europe and Canada. The business won ’ t discuss whether it will be bringing the mobile phone to the UNITED STATE in the future.
Driving down the cost of Windows Phone hardware so it can much better compete with Android ’ s reach is a crucial plank of Nokia ’ s technique. “We are clearly innovating with Microsoft around Windows Phone, and are concentrated on taking that to lesser and lesser cost points, ” stated CEO Stephen Elop, on a Q4 investor teleconference last month, including: “ You will see that over time compete with Android. ”
The 620 is an important action along that road. In the U.K. it ’ s available SIM-free from ₤ 150 (about $ 235) — meanings it ’ s lining up against a swathe of mid-range to budget Androids, while avoiding scraping along the very bottom of the budget plan barrel. At sub – ₤ 100, a lot of phones are depressing entertainers — with slow processors, cramped low res screens and plasticy develop quality — however even around the ₤ 150 mark there are a lot of duds. The Lumia 620 attracts attention from the underpowered crowd by revealing that an entry level smartphone could get the performance fundamentals right.
- 3.8 inch, 800 x 480 display with 246ppi
- Dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon S4, with 512MB of RAM
- 8GB of interior storage, expandable by means of MicroSD card up to 64GB, plus 7GB in Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage space
- User-replaceable 1300 mAh battery
- 5MP rear camera, front-facing lens for video calls
- Runs Windows Phone 8
Nokia stated “ compact ” and the Lumia 620 is certainly that. It will slip into wallets and fit in the daintiest of hands. While its screen size is a smidgen bigger than the iPhone 4/4S — at 3.8 inches on the diagonal — its total footprint is virtually exact same, albeit a little thicker in the waist (at 11mm). The screen itself is clear and bright without being specifically crisp, thanks to its midding resolution.
On the design side, the phone has a rounded look and feel. And while there ’ s no escaping how much plastic is associateded with its building it feels durable rather than lightweight. All its curves, paired with the glossy shell, could make it a little a slippery character — it handled to fly from my fingers and crash-land on the floor throughout testing (but seemed no worse for wear after its tumble). The carefully rounded back also indicates it gained ’ t lie flush with a flat surface, such as a table, so if you try to make use of the touchscreen without otherwise slowing the mobile phone will move/spin with your fingers.
Nokia has actually decided to go all out for bright and bold with the overall look of the phone by offering an array of vividly colored shells, consisting of a glossy two-tone acid green/yellow one (imagined in close up above, and below top right) and bright pink, blue, yellow and white in a matte finish (pictured below). Shells are swapped out by continuing the camera lens while pulling back on the major edge.
As easy as it is to change the shells it does feel a little gimmicky but if you ’ re the kind of individual who likes to colour-match all your accessories then it might delight you. More exciting is that Nokia has introduced 3D print declare the case shell of an additional Lumia mobile phone — the 820 — so it ’ s possible the company may additionally choose to release a 3DK for the 620 in the future (although the 620 ′ s shell integrates the headphone jack device so it appears unlikely).
Being plasticy, the 620 is fairly light-weight (127g). It has three physical keys on its right-hand edge: a power/wake-up button in the middle, a volume rocker at the top and a specialized camera button — which is an excellent addition — towards the bottom. On the front, you get the familiar trio of Windows Phone navigation tricks: back; the Windows estate secret; and (Bing) search. These aren ’ t physical tricks but the signs have been printed atop the touchscreen so they ’ re visible at all times.
There ’ s a five megapixel camera on the rear of the phone, with a solitary LED flash. Image resolution is 2,592 x 1,936 pixels and image quality is typical to poor — with subjects commonly getting a fuzzy halo and lacking crisp definition. It ’ s fine for quick snaps for publishing to Facebook etc. however is not an area where the 620 wins any plaudits. The front-facing lens produces extremely low-grade shots so is actually just ideal for low-resolution video chatting.
Somewhere else, there ’ s a 3.5 mm earphone jack on the major edge; a Micro-USB harbor for charging/transferring files on the bottom edge; and a little rear speaker on the back, towards the bottom edge. The Micro SD card slot can be got at by getting rid of the shell (but without having to get the battery). The Micro SIM tray is hidden under the battery. Broaching which, the phone has affordable endurance for its course. Nokia reckons you ’ ll get up to 9.9 hours of 3G talk time, or 61 hours of music playback on a single cost. I discovered it easily lasted a day ’ s average use.
Call quality is reasonable although not stand out — seeming a little muffled, rather than incredibly crisp. The rear speaker wasn ’ t bad either, for such a spending plan gadget, with no evidence of distortion at the top of the range and the ability to pump the noise up relatively loud.
The Lumia 620 runs Windows Phone 8, which sets it apart from other inexpensive Windows Phone mobiles as these normally run the previous incarnation of Microsoft ’ s mobile platform, Windows Phone 7 (either 7.5 — or the last update, 7.8, that includes the brand-new, more versatile homescreen found on WP8). If you don ’ t have a substantial budget and merely needs to have Windows Phone 8 the Lumia 620 is quite much your only hope today. A minimum of until Huawei ’ s “ entry-level ” Ascend W1 shows up to rain on its parade.
Microsoft ’ s OS has installed itself as a ‘ 3rd method ’ to the smartphone ‘ duopoly ’ of Android and iOS, declaring WP is less controlling than Apple ’ s iOS, however more regulated than Android ’ s complimentary for all. In truth, Windows Phone can feel really micro-managed because Microsoft doesn ’ t allow its OEMs to skin the OS with their own UI, suggesting every Windows Phone looks and feels precisely the same.
If you like the Windows Phone look — huge, bright tiles combined with lashings of typography, rather than icons/graphics — then that ’ s not always a problem. But it could seem like a little a gotten taste and/or rather medical. Microsoft additionally, undoubtedly, lards the OS with made-in-Redmond services — which brings benefits, such as 7GB of free SkyDrive cloud storage (in the 620 ′ s case), but could also feel a bit limiting. Wish to make the search vital default to Google rather than Bing? Forget it.
Still, there ’ s no refuting Windows Phone offers something various to the competitors, with social networking information (from Facebook, Twitter et al) working like the blood in its veins, constantly pumping personalised updates onto your homescreen, and seeping down with native apps such as the calendar. All told, it ’ s the lazy person ’ s way to stay in the loop. Contribute to that, there ’ s no scarcity of messaging options — with the built-in social networking extending your interactions options so you put on ’ t have to dive off into committed apps as you swipe around the UI. Web browsing also feels fast and responsive.
At the Lumia 620 ′ s rate point, the primary OS alternative is of course Android — but at this price Nokia ’ s handset is effectively competing on performance premises, as opposed to UI/OS approach. Far too lots of economical Androids could feel slow and underwhelming, if not downright frustrating thanks to poor hardware. That ’ s not generally true of course — there are exceptions — but spending plan Android buyers have to do their research to prevent having a lemon.
What the Lumia 620 shows is that Windows Phone could be an attractive low-price alternative — providing glossy entry-level performance, with a solid web browser, messaging, maps and of course incorporated social networking, plus, in the 620 ′ s case, value-add bonus such as free of cost cloud storage and Nokia ’ s cost-free streaming songs service.
As an OS, Windows Phone still has work to do — it ’ s solid however not problem cost-free — nor is it lightning quick on the 620, with the loading animation a consistent friend, though never for too long. However, on the plus side, it ’ s really easy to use and, most significantly, packs in a whole lot of functionality for your money. However — however! — you do have to make your peace with its relative lack of apps.
That cool brand-new app your buddy told you about? It won ’ t be on Windows Phone. Not now, and perhaps never.
Windows Phone had some 150,000 + apps at the last count (vs even more than 700,000 Google Play apps as of October last year) so, just considering the numbers (ignoring the whole ‘ app quality ’ concern), it is really far behind the Android experience. Relative absence of apps stays a really big caveat about Windows Phone. That stated, not all Android apps can run (or run well) on every budget smartphone so once again, on efficiency premises, the 620 can still make a compelling case for budget buyers.
There are still some seriously huge holes in the Windows Phone app catalogue, such as Instagram and Dropbox, along with lots of disruptive startup apps you ’ re inevitably missing out on such as Snapchat and Vine — however at this budget cost it does feels a bit indulgent to gripe.
Nokia has likewise stepped into the app breach to bolster the platform with providings such as its (complimentary) Mix Radio songs streaming service, that includes an offline listening feature and does not need any kind of registration to obtain the tunes up and running, in addition to Nokia Maps and turn-by-turn sat-nav app Nokia Drive (with free of cost downloadable globe maps), plus the likes of City Lens: an augmented truth app that helps you hunt for things in your neighborhood area.
Games seems to be an especially weak location for Windows Phone apps (despite its Xbox-branded games hub) so the Lumia 620 is not such an excellent choice for wallet gamers. However — in other places — Microsoft has actually handled to get some big star apps on the platform, including Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Evernote and Angry Birds. The latter does not seem offered as a free of cost ad-supported download on Windows Phone, as it is on Android and iOS — presumably due to the fact that of Windows Phone ’ s restricted marketshare — so you ’ ll should be prepared to spend around ₤ 0.79 ($ 1.24) to download each Rovio title.
One even more thing: generally speaking, apps do normally be more expensive on Windows Phone which is something else budget purchasers have to factor in to their examination of the 620. There ’ s no doubt apps are Windows Phone ’ s weakest link.
The Lumia 620 is an outstanding smartphone for the price. Its dual-core chip provides good all-round efficiency with responsive web browsing, maps and apps, and a UI that ’ s a delight instead of a sluggish duty to swipe around. Spending plan buyers are all too commonly fobbed off with underpowered, undesirable hardware that produces uninspiring, irritating software. This entry-level phone states there is another means to put the mobile web and brilliant messaging in your pocket.
However the trade-off is an ecosystem that feels a little more sterilized than Android, both in regards to the amount of it lets you customise the experience to your tastes and the level to which you could extend and enhance it with third-party apps. There ’ s no denying Microsoft ’ s platform fails on apps. But, at this entry-level price a minimum of, the Lumia 620 offsets that with strong performance and simpleness. Nice efficiency may partially be to Windows Phone lacking the processor-draining apps to truly push it. However even if that ’ s the case the outcome is a spending plan phone that, unlike some entry-level fodder, does the essentials well — and that ’ s an excellent beginning.
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Nokia’s Cheapest Windows Phone 8 Lumia, The 620, Gives The Spending plan Android Pack A Run For Its Cash
The Nokia Lumia 620 is not a flagship smartphone — for high-end Windows Phone hardware, want to the Lumia 920 (or Samsung Ativ S). But exactly what makes the 620 interesting is its (reduced) price: this is an entry-level smartphone that puts a sleek mobile computing experience in your pocket without breaking the bank or compromising usability with dire, underpowered hardware.
When Nokia revealed the 620 back in December it spoke about wishing to add something more compact to its schedule. And the phone is certainly pocket-friendly. However the size of the 620 ′ s price-tag is the real focus right here: the Lumia 620 is Nokia ’ s most affordable Windows Phone 8 gadget without a doubt (the Lumia 510 is less expensive still but that handset runs WP7.5 / 7.8, not WP8). Nokia ’ s target markets for the 620 are currently Asia-Pac, the Middle East and Africa, Europe and Canada. The business won ’ t discuss whether it will be bringing the mobile phone to the UNITED STATE in the future.
Driving down the expense of Windows Phone hardware so it could much better compete with Android ’ s reach is an essential plank of Nokia ’ s approach. “We are clearly innovating with Microsoft around Windows Phone, and are concentrated on taking that to lower and lower rate points, ” stated CEO Stephen Elop, on a Q4 investor conference call last month, including: “ You will see that gradually take on Android. ”
The 620 is an essential action along that roadway. In the U.K. it ’ s available SIM-free from ₤ 150 (about $ 235) — which indicates it ’ s lining up against a swathe of mid-range to budget Androids, while avoiding scraping along the extremely bottom of the spending plan barrel. At sub – ₤ 100, a lot of phones are dismal entertainers — with sluggish processors, cramped reduced res screens and plasticy build quality — however even around the ₤ 150 mark there are plenty of losers. The Lumia 620 attracts attention from the underpowered crowd by showing that an entry level smartphone could get the efficiency essentials right.
- 3.8 inch, 800 x 480 display with 246ppi
- Dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon S4, with 512MB of RAM
- 8GB of internal storage, extensible via MicroSD card approximately 64GB, plus 7GB in Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage space
- User-replaceable 1300 mAh battery
- 5MP rear camera, front-facing lens for video calls
- Runs Windows Phone 8
Nokia stated “ compact ” and the Lumia 620 is certainly that. It will slip into wallets and fit in the daintiest of hands. While its screen size is a smidgen larger than the iPhone 4/4S — at 3.8 inches on the diagonal — its total footprint is nearly exact same, albeit a little thicker in the waist (at 11mm). The screen itself is clear and bright without being particularly crisp, thanks to its midding resolution.
On the design side, the phone has a rounded appearance and feel. And while there ’ s no escaping how much plastic is associateded with its construction it feels tough as opposed to flimsy. All its curves, combined with the glossy shell, could make it a bit of a slippery character — it managed to fly from my fingers and crash-land on the floor during screening (however appeared no even worse for wear after its tumble). The gently rounded back likewise indicates it won ’ t lie flush with a flat surface, such as a table, so if you attempt to make use of the touchscreen without otherwise anchoring it the mobile will move/spin with your fingers.
Nokia has actually determined to go all out for bright and bold with the overall look of the phone by offering an array of vividly colored shells, including a glossy two-tone acid green/yellow one (pictured in close above, and below major right) and bright pink, blue, yellow and white in a matte finish (imagined below). Shells are switched out by continuing the camera lens while pulling back on the top edge.
As simple as it is to switch the shells it does feel a little gimmicky however if you ’ re the kind of individual who likes to colour-match all your add-ons then it might delight you. More amazing is that Nokia has actually launched 3D print declare the case shell of another Lumia smartphone — the 820 — so it ’ s possible the business might additionally decide to release a 3DK for the 620 in the future (although the 620 ′ s shell incorporates the headphone jack device so it appears unlikely).
Being plasticy, the 620 is reasonably light-weight (127g). It has 3 physical secrets on its right-hand edge: a power/wake-up button between, a volume rocker at the top and a devoted camera button — which is a terrific addition — towards all-time low. On the front, you get the familiar trio of Windows Phone navigation keys: back; the Windows real estate secret; and (Bing) search. These aren ’ t physical tricks however the symbols have actually been printed atop the touchscreen so they ’ re visible at all times.
There ’ s a 5 megapixel camera on the back of the phone, with a single LED flash. Photo resolution is 2,592 x 1,936 pixels and photo quality is average to bad — with topics typically obtaining a fuzzy halo and lacking crisp meaning. It ’ s fine for quick snaps for uploading to Facebook etc. however is not a location where the 620 wins any plaudits. The front-facing lens produces incredibly low-grade shots so is truly just suitable for low-resolution video chatting.
Elsewhere, there ’ s a 3.5 mm headphone jack on the major edge; a Micro-USB harbor for charging/transferring files on the bottom edge; and a little rear speaker on the back, to the bottom edge. The Micro SD card slot could be got at by eliminating the shell (but without having to obtain the battery). The Micro SIM tray is tucked away under the battery. Speaking of which, the phone has practical endurance for its course. Nokia reckons you ’ ll get up to 9.9 hours of 3G talk time, or 61 hours of music playback on a solitary cost. I discovered it quickly lasted a day ’ s ordinary use.
Call quality is affordable although not stand out — seeming a little muffled, as opposed to extremely crisp. The rear speaker wasn ’ t bad either, for such a spending plan device, without any evidence of distortion at the top of the array and the capability to pump the sound up fairly loud.
The Lumia 620 runs Windows Phone 8, which sets it apart from various other affordable Windows Phone smartphones as these usually tend to run the previous version of Microsoft ’ s mobile platform, Windows Phone 7 (either 7.5 — or the last update, 7.8, which includes the brand-new, more flexible homescreen discovered on WP8). If you don ’ t have a huge budget plan and merely has to have Windows Phone 8 the Lumia 620 is practically your only hope today. At least until Huawei ’ s “ entry-level ” Ascend W1 shows up to rain on its parade.
Microsoft ’ s OS has installed itself as a ‘ 3rd way ’ to the smartphone ‘ duopoly ’ of Android and iOS, declaring WP is less controlling than Apple ’ s iOS, however more regulated than Android ’ s cost-free for all. In reality, Windows Phone can feel very micro-managed since Microsoft doesn ’ t allow its OEMs to skin the OS with their own UI, suggesting every Windows Phone looks and feels precisely the exact same.
If you like the Windows Phone look — huge, bright tiles paired with lashings of typography, instead of icons/graphics — then that ’ s not always a trouble. But it could seem like a bit of an acquired taste and/or rather medical. Microsoft additionally, undoubtedly, lards the OS with made-in-Redmond services — which brings benefits, such as 7GB of free of cost SkyDrive cloud storage (in the 620 ′ s case), but can also feel a bit limiting. Wish to make the search essential default to Google instead of Bing? Forget it.
Still, there ’ s no rejecting Windows Phone offers something different to the competitors, with social networking information (from Facebook, Twitter et al) working like the blood in its veins, constantly pumping personalised updates onto your homescreen, and trickling down through native apps such as the calendar. All told, it ’ s the lazy individual ’ s means to remain in the loop. Contribute to that, there ’ s no scarcity of messaging choices — with the built-in social networking extending your interactions options so you don ’ t have to dive off into dedicated apps as you swipe around the UI. Web browsing likewise feels quick and responsive.
At the Lumia 620 ′ s price point, the major OS alternative is of course Android — however at this rate Nokia ’ s mobile phone is successfully competing on performance grounds, as opposed to UI/OS viewpoint. Far too lots of inexpensive Androids could feel sluggish and underwhelming, if not downright irritating thanks to poor hardware. That ’ s not generally true naturally — there are exceptions — but spending plan Android buyers have to do their research to avoid possessing a lemon.
Exactly what the Lumia 620 programs is that Windows Phone can be an attractive low-price option — offering glossy entry-level efficiency, with a solid browser, messaging, maps and of course integrated social networking, plus, in the 620 ′ s case, value-add bonus such as free of cost cloud storage and Nokia ’ s free streaming music service.
As an OS, Windows Phone still has work to do — it ’ s solid but not glitch complimentary — nor is it lightning fast on the 620, with the loading animation a steady companion, though never ever for too long. But, on the plus side, it ’ s actually easy to make use of and, most notably, packs in a great deal of functionality for your money. But — however! — you do require to make your peace with its relative absence of apps.
That cool new app your buddy informed you about? It gained ’ t be on Windows Phone. Not now, and perhaps not ever.
Windows Phone had some 150,000 + apps at the last count (vs even more than 700,000 Google Play apps as of October last year) so, just considering the numbers (overlooking the entire ‘ app quality ’ issue), it is really far behind the Android experience. Relative absence of apps stays a really big caution about Windows Phone. That stated, not all Android apps can run (or run well) on every budget plan mobile so once more, on performance grounds, the 620 could still make a compelling case for budget plan purchasers.
There are still some seriously huge holes in the Windows Phone app brochure, such as Instagram and Dropbox, in addition to plenty of disruptive start-up apps you ’ re unavoidably missing out on out on such as Snapchat and Vine — however at this spending plan rate it does feels a bit indulgent to gripe.
Nokia has likewise stepped into the app breach to boost the platform with providings such as its (complimentary) Mix Radio songs streaming service, that includes an offline listening attribute and does not need any kind of registration to obtain the tunes up and running, in addition to Nokia Maps and turn-by-turn sat-nav app Nokia Drive (with cost-free downloadable globe maps), plus the likes of City Lens: an increased reality app that helps you search for things in your local area.
Gaming appears to be an especially weak area for Windows Phone apps (in spite of its Xbox-branded games hub) so the Lumia 620 is not such a terrific option for pocket gamers. But — somewhere else — Microsoft has handled to get some big name apps on the platform, including Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Evernote and Angry Birds. The latter does not seem offered as a free ad-supported download on Windows Phone, as it is on Android and iOS — presumably because of Windows Phone ’ s limited marketshare — so you ’ ll should be prepared to invest around ₤ 0.79 ($ 1.24) to download each Rovio title.
Another thing: typically speaking, apps do often be more costly on Windows Phone which is something else budget buyers should factor in to their assessment of the 620. There ’ s no doubt apps are Windows Phone ’ s weakest link.
The Lumia 620 is an excellent smartphone for the price. Its dual-core chip delivers good all-round performance with responsive web browsing, maps and apps, and a UI that ’ s a satisfaction as opposed to a sluggish duty to swipe around. Budget plan purchasers are all too often fobbed off with underpowered, unfavorable hardware that makes for uninspiring, frustrating software. This entry-level phone states there is another means to put the mobile web and smart messaging in your pocket.
However the compromise is an ecosystem that feels a bit even more sterile than Android, both in terms of exactly how much it lets you customise the experience to your tastes and the level to which you could extend and augment it with third-party apps. There ’ s no refuting Microsoft ’ s platform fails on apps. However, at this entry-level rate at least, the Lumia 620 makes up for that with strong efficiency and simpleness. Suitable efficiency could partly be down to Windows Phone doing not have the processor-draining apps to truly push it. But even if that ’ s the case the result is a budget phone that, unlike some entry-level fodder, does the basics well — which ’ s a great start.
Watch out, folks: Pantech is moving up the AT&T food chain. Once known in the US as little more than a budget brand, the Korean company is learning that it’s possible to push out a device with premium components without increasing the going price (while choosing an outside-the-box design at the same time). The latest piece of evidence supporting this is the Discover, a $ 50 smartphone with enough trimmings to turn some heads. But will the phone set a new precedent for its pricing tier, or is it just blindly checking off items on a spec sheet to-do list? Follow us after the break and find out.
On our stage at CES, Pantech’s Manager of US Marketing Chandra Thompson told us that nearly 60 percent of the company’s employees are dedicated to R&D, a claim that certainly can’t be made by very many companies. We were quite surprised to hear that from a company like Pantech — it caters almost exclusively to the penny-pinching demographic in the US, so it’s easy to dismiss its hardware as cheap and unexciting.
Au contraire, naysayers: the Discover, Pantech’s latest budget-friendly offering on AT&T, actually bucks the trend of the stereotypical slab, making it a visually arresting device to behold. The curvaceous back is chock-full of contours, but each one is done up in a way that enhances how the phone feels when you hold it in your hands. (We can’t help but be reminded of the Sony Xperia arc when looking at it.) In fact, we’ll go ahead and say that the Discover is one of the most comfortable phones we’ve used in recent history; its chassis hits the ruler at 134.2 x 68.6 x 9.1mm (5.3 x 2.7 x 0.36 inches) and gives us a solid grip that made us confident it wouldn’t slip out of our grasp. It’s also relatively light, weighing in at 4.76 ounces (135g).
Much of that has to do with the textured plastic material on the removable back panel, which adds just the right amount of traction without drawing too much attention to itself. The Discover is not only attractive; it also exudes durability. If you’ve only handled it for a few minutes it might be hard to tell that the device is as inexpensive as it is. We were happy to discover (pun not intended) that the back doesn’t flex or creak when you add pressure, lending even more credibility to the phone relative to its pricing tier.
The front of the device shows off the 4.8-inch 720p TFT screen, with a 2MP front-facing camera and the typical array of sensors above. You won’t find any capacitive nav buttons on the bottom, as the Discover uses virtual keys instead. To take the place of the missing keys, you’ll expectedly find a Pantech logo.
The sides are where the Discover starts to get really interesting. The phone bulges near the top to make room for a pair of 3D surround sound speakers, and the back cover tapers inward to meet up with the chrome edge. The speaker grilles are dotted with a snowflake-like pattern — the only hole in this analogy is that they’re all exactly alike. On the left side, adjacent to the grille, you’ll find a volume rocker that blends in perfectly with the rest of the chrome trim; the top end houses the power button and 3.5mm headphone jack, while the bottom end is where you plug in your micro-USB charger.
Completing our tour, we take you to the back of the Discover, which is where the 12.6MP rear-end camera module is located, with the LED flash directly beneath. You’ll also see a pair of logos for AT&T and Pantech, but neither is so ridiculously large so as to distract from the overall elegance of the device. Rip open that removable cover and you’ll find slots for the micro-SIM and microSD cards, as well as the replaceable 2,100mAh battery and NFC contacts.
Antenna-wise, the Discover is packed with plenty of radios: GSM / EDGE: 850/900/1800/1900; HSPA+ / UMTS 850/1900/2100; and LTE 700/850/1900/AWS. While most observers may be puzzled by the inclusion of four LTE bands when AT&T’s network is only currently utilizing two (700 / AWS), it actually means that your device will continue working properly if the operator decides to begin refarming 850 / 1900 HSPA+ spectrum for the use of LTE. Many of AT&T’s latest phones offer the same new LTE setup, but it’s typically not advertised — in the past we’ve had to dig into each handset’s FCC filings to figure it out.
Rounding out the specs, the Discover also offers aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11a/b/g/n, 16GB of internal storage and supports DLNA. That microSD slot is capable of holding cards up to 32GB in size. There is, however, one glaring omission: there’s no LED notification light.
Now, let’s dive deeper into the display itself. Typically, the only time we see a $ 50 phone sporting a panel with a 720p (1,280 x 720) resolution is either when it’s on sale or is near the end of its retail shelf life (such is the case with the HTC One X). Thus, the fact that Pantech is pushing out a device with a higher-end screen at such a low price point should be enough to get any budget-conscious consumer excited. But how is it in real life? How does the display hold up against similar offerings?
While the HTC One X still holds the crown for best 720p display, the Discover doesn’t disappoint. It’s not quite as bright as the One X, but it certainly bests the Galaxy S III in this area. We also like the decent viewing angles and natural-looking colors — it’s definitely less saturated than the GS III, but then again, most phones are. It doesn’t use a PenTile matrix, so the fonts were crisp and easy to read without any jagged edges getting in our way.
Pantech is just as creative in its firmware design as it is in hardware. The Discover runs Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), though company reps have told us that Jelly Bean is in the works — unfortunately, they wouldn’t tell us which version, but this is at least a step in the right direction. Despite the fact it’s running now-antiquated firmware, it at least throws in quite a few differentiators that make its custom skin one of the most unique we’ve encountered on this side of the Pacific.
For starters, the app dock on the front screen allows 14 total icons, instead of the standard four. How so? If you look carefully, you’ll see arrows on either side of the dock indicating that you can swipe left or right for more shortcuts, folders or apps. We imagine this will only come in handy if you prefer using most of your front screen space for widgets, but it’s a nice touch regardless.
Additionally, while the virtual nav buttons at the bottom of the display feature the usual suite of back, home and recent apps, Pantech throws in a tiny menu button on the right-hand side that’s visible only on the front screen. (It doesn’t replace or duplicate the settings buttons you’ll find in most apps.) Pressing it brings up a menu that overlays the app dock and offers widgets, wallpaper, themes, settings and tips. Sounds great in theory, but it’s absolutely pointless since long-pressing the home screen achieves exactly the same result.
Moving on to the app menu, you’ll first notice that widgets are nowhere to be found — you’ll need to access them using the settings bar. Pantech has chosen to use the tab space on top to enhance the group-viewing experience. Essentially, you can choose to put any of your apps into customizable groups — just as if they’re a separate folder — and each group you create gets its own tab up on top. You can also assign each tab its own specific color and change the name to whatever you want; even better, you can also long-press the tab to install the entire group as a folder on your home screen, making it less work for you to set up groups in multiple places.
The navigation menu also has a few tweaks of its own: the top of the menu features a quick settings bar (nothing new there) and a second bar for settings shortcuts. This bar, which can be collapsed if you deem it unnecessary, includes icons for sound, WiFi, display, Bluetooth and more — the idea is to get you one step closer to these individual settings, thus reducing the amount of time you spend trying to reach them. We don’t foresee this saving more than a fraction of a second, but it’s there for you as an option if you want.
Pantech is also taking a page out of Samsung’s book by introducing its own set of motion / gesture controls. The concept is roughly the same: by waving your hand left and right over the front-facing camera, you can answer calls and navigate through pics and music without touching the screen. It worked much better than we expected; the camera recognized our hands from as far away as two feet.
Speaking of looking to Samsung for inspiration, the Discover also features a pop-up video option. When you begin watching a video, tap the proper button near the top of the screen and it hovers above whatever app you want to use simultaneously. You can also do something similar in the music app: the press of a button will float a “now playing” widget (which can be switched to playlist view as well) above your other programs.
Easy Experience Mode is offered with the Pantech Discover. We went into more detail on this particular feature in our review of the Flex, but in a nutshell: Easy Experience is essentially a special introductory launcher that helps first-time smartphone users settle into the whirlwind world of Android without experiencing as drastic a learning curve. There’s less stuff to customize, the font and icons are a little larger and the app menu is much more streamlined. Not much is different on the Discover, with the exception of a new toggle switch on the main UI, which makes it pretty easy to go back and forth between the two modes.
As you might expect, you’ll still have the normal onslaught of preloaded apps (though fortunately Pantech lets you hide unwanted apps or tuck them away in groups), but AT&T is pushing one new program in particular: DriveMode. The app is intended to prevent drivers from reading texts or taking calls when on the road. When your driving speed is above 25MPH, the service (which can be disabled if you prefer) sends an automatic SMS response to anyone who calls you or sends a text, letting them know you’ll get in touch with them as soon as you’ve finished your journey. It definitely does the job as intended — when we first began this review, our unit had the service enabled by default, and it showed up as soon as we hit the right speed. (Disclaimer: the reviewer was in the passenger seat when making this discovery.)
Lastly, the Discover uses the same stock Skyfire browser as the HTC One VX and LG Optimus G (among others). This means it comes with the love-or-hate browser bar at the bottom of the screen that offers several shortcuts and other settings. It appears that this particular browser is here to stay, and we shouldn’t be surprised to see it continue to surface on future AT&T models.
One major quirk with the UI is that Pantech doesn’t really take full advantage of the vertical space afforded to it. In addition to the virtual keys taking up room at the bottom of the screen, most of the phone’s UI elements are much larger than your typical device. The app dock on the front screen, the extra settings in the navigation menu and even the tabs on top of the app menu are easy to press, but you only get this benefit by sacrificing precious screen real estate.
The weakest link in every Pantech phone we’ve ever reviewed is the camera. The 8MP sensor used in the Flex was certainly an improvement over the 5MP models used previously, but it still couldn’t hold a candle to Samsung’s and HTC’s 8-megapixel units. So what did we get out of the Discover’s 12.6-megapixel rear-facing cam? Pixel count isn’t everything, after all.
First, let’s go over the user interface on the camera. The shutter button sidebar consists of a few toggle switches: front / rear, camcorder and HDR. The other sidebar is where you’ll find your various settings, as well as shortcuts that can be customized to specific things you tweak the most (this bar is free of shortcuts by default — you have to add them in at your leisure). Among the listed settings are exposure, flash, resolution, white balance, color effects and focus mode (in which you can choose between touch focus and tracking focus). Long-pressing the viewfinder in touch mode will lock your focus, and then you can touch the screen another time to lock exposure.
Speaking of which, the Discover is missing the ability to lock focus on objects in low-light or near-dark conditions; the phone doesn’t give us the option to use LED flash as a focus mechanism prior to taking the shot, so you may need to take several images in low light before it truly comes out the way it should. The LED flash itself is sufficiently bright, so that particular part of the camera isn’t an issue.
In fact, low-light images in general didn’t turn out very well. Perhaps a big part of the problem is the fact that Pantech didn’t throw in any special modes like the ones you’ll find on the One X, Galaxy S III and other flagships. No low-light, night or candlelight modes are offered; the phone doesn’t even have macro mode. Unfortunately, it’s just not as decked out as we’d like it to be. Frankly, this is to be expected on a phone that is geared toward the budget user, but we have a hard time understanding exactly why Pantech would go through the effort of boosting the megapixel count without enhancing the actual image-taking experience.
While we have a difficult time recommending the Discover’s camera over the proven modules found on the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III, the images on the Discover were still at least par with what we originally expected (which unfortunately isn’t saying much). We had quite a few issues with washed-out colors, middling dynamic range and soft focus. The upside is that white balance seemed to be pretty good. Regardless, it’s not the point-and-shoot replacement you’d like it to be.
We actually didn’t have so much to complain about with the video capture performance (MPEG-4, 18 Mbps bit rate, 30fps frame rate). It was very smooth when catching motion or panning, and the mics picked up our voice loud and clear. Its only drawback was that it couldn’t properly handle sunlight without ultimately washing out the colors in the process.
Performance and battery life
On the performance side, the Discover doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It sports the same 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor that we enjoyed on the Burst and Flex, along with 1GB RAM and an Adreno 225 GPU. Thus, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that its actual output is nearly the same. Responsiveness is great and lag is near non-existent when performing most processor-heavy tasks. All told, we didn’t feel like we were using a subpar handset. Gaming was also as smooth as we’ve come to expect on an S4 Plus device. Here’s how the Discover benchmarks against some similarly priced phones on AT&T’s network:
|Pantech Discover||HTC One VX||LG Escape|
|SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms)||1,614||1,504||1,598|
|GLBenchmark 2.5 Egypt 1080p Offscreen (fps)||14||12||11|
|SunSpider: lower scores are better.|
In terms of battery life, our standard endurance test — looping a video with a series of notifications rolling in the background — went on for six hours and 45 minutes. That’s hardly spectacular, but it’s still better than what we saw on the HTC One VX. What this means is that moderate users can make it through an entire day before having to charge up the phone, but anyone who uses the device extensively will get a solid nine or 10 hours out of it. However, unless you’re barely using it, you shouldn’t expect it to last overnight and into the next day.
On AT&T’s LTE network in Salt Lake City, the Discover zoomed through speed tests at an average of 18 Mbps down and 12 Mbps up. Keep in mind that this number may vary depending on the strength of your local network. We had mixed results with the phone’s WiFi performance; on multiple occasions it randomly disconnected from our preferred network and would refuse to reconnect again (it often would get stuck in an endless loop, going back and forth between “connecting” and “saved”). Quickly shutting WiFi off and then turning it on again typically resolved the problem, but that’s of course an annoyance.
When it came to actually making phone calls, our callers could hear us perfectly loud and clear. Noise cancelling was in full force, as callers had no idea that we were in a noisy room. On our end, other voices came through crystal clear, although the volume was a little softer than we would have preferred.
So what about the dual 3D surround sound speakers on the Discover? In a couple words: not bad. Thing is, it’s louder than your typical budget phone, so in that sense you’re getting your money’s worth; however, we could barely tell any difference between it and the audio output on flagship phones like the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III. In fact, when doing direct comparisons between the three devices, the Discover’s sound was on the tinny side and not as full or rich as the others. Again, it’s pretty good for its intended price range, but not the best out there. One other thing: while the surround sound concept works okay when the phone’s in portrait mode, it’s a completely different story when you’re watching movies in landscape, since both speakers are on the same side. It’s pretty difficult to mimic stereo sound very well with this kind of setup.
Pricing and comparison
Going by the spec sheet alone, the Pantech Discover blows away any other brand-new device in its price range — you may see some better-specced phones on sale around the $ 50 margin, but this surpasses any other budget or midrange phone that has begun at this particular cost. On AT&T’s network, the next in line would be the HTC One VX, a phone that for the same amount of money snags you a qHD display, 5MP rear camera, 8GB internal storage and a few other mid-range specs to go along with it. While we were fond of the VX, the Discover ultimately offers more bang for your buck.
With each of its recent phones, Pantech has shown that it’s possible to make an inexpensive handset without sacrificing premium components. It specializes in the lower-end (in the US, at least), and it does its job very well. With a going price of $ 50 (after a two-year commitment), it’s sure to turn quite a few heads. It’s far from perfect, of course, but right now, at least, we have a hard time seeing how anyone could make a better budget device.
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Question by : Will it be worth spending 8 grand on a 55” OLED TV?
According to the major tech magazines and websites that covered CES 2012, the expected price of a 55” OLED TV is at around $ 7k-8k.
Answer by Glen
No wonder it is so expensive because it is one of the latest technologies in TV display. It has a good picture quality, low power consumption, very fast response and is lightweight. It will be quite expensive in the beginning but I won’t think twice to invest my hard earned money in such a TV. The only concern is the lifespan. Many articles say that the blue sub pixel and the organic materials used in OLED TV don’t last as long as LCD/LED TVs.
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Google dominates search to such a degree that its name is synonymous with the service, but the company is still trying to foster awareness of its newer and less ubiquitous offerings like the Chrome browser and Google+. Nowhere is this effort more apparent than in the company’s ad spend, which nearly quadrupled in 2011 to $ 213 million, from a meager $ 56 million a year before. Of the total, approximately $ 70 million went to TV — more than 10 times higher than the $ 6 million the company spent in 2010 (Google’s first year for TV ads), according to a report from Kantar Media (via WSJ). While Google’s newfound fondness for advertising is significant, the report also notes the company lags behind the likes of Microsoft and Apple when you look…