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17 Apr 12 LG Viper 4G LTE: Eco-Friendly, Fast, but No LTE–Yet


Click a photo to enlarge.The LG Viper ($100 with a new two-year contract from Sprint; price as of 4/12/12) is Sprint’s very first LTE phone. But the Android-running Viper is a little early to the game: Sprint hasn’t rolled out its 4G LTE network yet. Despite being stuck with 3G speeds, though, the affordable LG Viper packs some high-quality specs for the price. The dual-core processor handled everything I threw at it with ease, the 5-megapixel camera took good pictures, and the addition of Google Wallet is not too shabby.

Design and Display

The Viper has a “platinum” rating by UL Environment for its sustainable build and packaging. According to Sprint, the phone’s body is 50 percent recycled plastic. Earth-friendly phones aren’t generally the most stylish-looking models, but the Viper is an exception. The piano-black face is nicely complemented by a chrome border around the phone’s edges. The silver plastic backing has a “brushed” finish, giving it a sophisticated look. It feels a little chunkier than the other smartphones we’ve recently reviewed, measuring 4.59-by-2.44-by-0.46 inches thick, but it weighs a manageable 5 ounces.

The 4-inch WVGA display’s resolution is somewhat lower than top-tier smartphones at 480-by-800 pixels (the highest-end Android phones come with 1280-by-720-pixel screens). If you plan on using the Viper only to browse the Web, check e-mail, and do some casual gaming, the display should be sufficient.

Like many smartphone displays, the Viper is a little oversaturated. This was apparent in our color bar tests, where the color gradients bled into each other. It tended to wash out skin tones a little bit, too, but it didn’t add a reddish tint, as we’ve seen some AMOLED displays do.

Software

The Viper runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with an overlay from LG and Sprint that runs atop it. The overlay is fairly lightweight and looks similar to the vanilla Android Gingerbread interface, but you’re stuck with a dedicated SprintID (Sprint’s app package service) navigation button on the display. Sprint confirmed that the Viper will eventually be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich, but the company did not say when we could expect that update.

Other than the permanent SprintID button, you can remove pretty much all of the carrier-added software (or, in some cases, bloatware). I wasn’t able to remove SprintZone, but I could remove Sprint NASCAR, NBA Mobile, TeleNav, and other added apps.

One useful included application is Google Wallet, which uses the built-in NFC chip in the Viper to let you make payments with your phone. For a complete overview of Google Wallet, check out our hands-on review.

Camera

I snapped a few photos indoors and out with the Viper’s 5-megapixel camera. My outdoor photos looked pretty good, with clear details and good color reproduction. My indoor photos had a bit of a dark cast to them (see the sample photo) and looked a little grainy in certain areas.

The Viper also has a front-facing camera and can shoot video in up to 1080p. As you can hear in the sample video below, the Viper’s microphone was very sensitive to wind. Colors overall looked a bit dark, but the Viper could handle fast-moving objects without any artifacting or pixelation.

Performance

As mentioned, the Sprint LTE network has not been rolled out yet in the United States. Sprint recently announced that it would roll out LTE in a handful of cities in mid-2012, but San Francisco, sadly, isn’t one of them for the time being.

When you switch on the Viper, you’ll have to immediately go into the settings and turn off the LTE. If you don’t, the phone will constantly try and search for a non-existent network and drain your battery. Until LTE comes to your city, you’re stuck with 3G. One nice thing to look forward to is that Sprint will offer unlimited data on its LTE network, so you’ll be able to use your data to your heart’s content–without getting throttled.

I ran the FCC-approved Ookla Speedtest.net app to measure 3G data speeds in San Francisco. I got an average of 0.92 megabits per second (mbps) for uploads and an average of 1.83 mbps for downloads in various parts of San Francisco. These are pretty good speeds for 3G, but nowhere near some of the LTE 4G speeds we’ve seen on ATT’s and Verizon’s networks. For example, the Nokia Lumia 900 achieved an average download speed of 13.27 megabits per second and an average upload speed of 7 mbps in San Francisco.

The Viper might be a “budget-friendly” phone, but it’s no slouch. Powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor, the Viper felt snappy throughout the user interface. I loaded a couple of graphics-heavy games on the Viper including Osmos, Edge, and the World of Goo. All three games ran smoothly, without any issue. I also ran two different benchmarks on the Viper: Qualcomm’s Vellamo benchmark and the third-party Quadrant benchmarking app. According to Quadrant, the Viper got a score of 3009, considerably higher than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which got a score of 2000. On Vellamo, the Viper scored 1221, which also put it ahead of the Galaxy Nexus.

Call quality over Sprint’s network was okay. The Viper was extremely sensitive to external noise, such as wind or passing cars. On a particularly windy day in San Francisco, I couldn’t hold a conversation without my friends on the other end asking me to repeat myself—the wind had completely overpowered my voice. Indoors, the Viper did a lot better. My friends’ voices sounded clear and natural, while they reported that they could hear me perfectly.

We have not yet completed our formal battery tests, but we will update this review once the results are in. In my hands on use, however, battery life wasn’t very good on the Viper. It seemed slow to charge, and I had to plug it in twice during a full day of fairly heavy use.

Bottom Line

The LG Viper is a solid introduction to Sprint’s incoming family of LTE phones—even though there isn’t a Sprint LTE network yet. The Viper might not be a top-of-the-line smartphone, but its dual-core processor keeps it running smoothly, and the camera snaps solid photos. But the Viper seems as if it is jumping the gun a bit. Being stuck on a 3G network with an LTE-capable phone is a little sad; and while Sprint did say the Viper will get the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade, there’s no telling when that will be. If you don’t mind waiting for Sprint to switch on its LTE network (especially if you live in one of the first few cities on Sprint’s roll-out list), the Viper is a good choice. If you’re looking for higher-end LTE phones on Sprint, you might want to wait a bit and go for the incoming HTC Evo 4G LTE or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Article source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/253799/lg_viper_4g_lte_ecofriendly_fast_but_no_lteyet.html

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08 Apr 12 Terrapets – a Beta Android App Game that Merges Pokemon and Farmville


terrapets 300x146 Terrapets   a Beta Android App Game that Merges Pokemon and Farmville

Terrapets is an Android app game that is the hybrid of pokemon and farmville. (Image: via play.google.com)

Terrapets is an Android app game by CerebralFix, aptly described as a mix between Pokemon and FarmVille.

According to Sarah Jacobsson Purewal of Computerworld, there isn’t enough gameplay motivations to continue playing the game after a couple of minutes trying it.

The game was tested on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus with OS Android 4.0.2.

So how does this Android app game work? First, you need to create a wildlife terrain from scratch, cultivating land, creating lakes, forests, swamps, etc. The next objective is to put up traps to catch terrapets.

Levelling up in the game involves completing goals provided by the game. There are several kinds of traps to catch various creatures, and placement of these traps also affect what kind of terrapets you can capture.

The next thing you do is to just wait for terrapets to get trapped, by which your trap will be shaking once it catches one. Next, try to tame or battle the creature with one of your tamed terrapets.

Taming the pet involves feeding it first then drawing out a terrapet taming card. Battling involves dueling it out with one of your tamed terrapets in a rock scissors paper type of game.

Game reviewers from Computerworld.com feel that the game is still a bit rough. Different portions of the game are a bit disconnected, terrapets can’t be seen in your reserve, and there’s no real purpose for battling out with wild terrapets, except to increase the level of your own creatures, but you can’t see them in your reserve anyway.

Terrapets is still beta format and these problems can still be fixed. As a hybrid between two highly popular games, it doesn’t have the excitement of Pokemon nor is it as beautiful as Farmville.

Source: Computerworld


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Article source: http://socialbarrel.com/terrapets-a-beta-android-app-game-that-merges-pokemon-and-farmville/35269/

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06 Apr 12 Instagram (for Android)


Haters love to hate, and giant egos are at stake whenever a cult iPhone app takes months, or in Instagram’s case, years, to be ported to Android. Cross-platform comparisons are made. Allegiances have formed around similar apps. Android users expect something to brag about to their iPhone frenemies.

Nearly two years after the iPhone version debuted, Instagram for Android has finally arrived in Google Play.

Instagram is a social networking tool centered on photos, and works similarly to Twitter (bonus trivia: Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom came from Twitter). The app lets you put folksy effects on dull photos with a single tap, and quickly share them on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Feature-wise, you’ll find more filters and editing tools in Android 4.0′s stock camera, and Android photo app favorites like Vignette and Lightbox offer far more filtering options. However, Instagram boasts the most robust social community running 15 million strong.

Join 
After a typical signup process, you can scroll through photo streams of other members and opt to follow them. There are plenty of celebrities to follow, but unlike in Twitter, Instagram offers no way to verify users’ accounts. So you’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s really Taylor Swift or the Biebs whose streams you are following. Instagram doesn’t have to be a wild-west sharing free-for-all; you can also set your photo stream to private, so that only users you approve can see it. 

Your home screen is populated with the most recently posted photo of all the members you follow, plus a preview of comments under each post. The stream is slick and conducive to “heart-ing” and commenting. Another button lets you flag a photo for nudity, copyright, or violating the Terms of Use.

View Slideshow
See all (6) slides


Sign Up


Follow Other Users


Discover Photos


Twitter-Like Interface

Snap, Edit
Take photos within the app, or select photos from your device to edit. Instagram offers 17 filters in total, plus the option to turn on or off a frame. Apart from sepia and black and white, the rest of the filters struck me as different shades of, well, folksy and low-res. The number of filters pales in comparison to Vignette’s 62 filters and 21 frames. Nor are Instagram’s filters as interesting as Lightbox’s 16, which include 8-bit, Fisheye, and Redscale. Even Instagram on iOS has a couple more filters.

In his review of the iPhone version of Instagram, my colleague Michael Muchmore said he found the effects gimmicky. True, I’d never normally think to “lomo” up a picture I took on a phone, but once I started experimenting with different filters, the hipster in me was hooked. I mean, who wouldn’t want to give a photo of a paper cup the “1977″ filter, which makes it more washed out and textured?

Share
Sharing on Instagram borrows a lot from Twitter’s setup and interface. Once you finish adding your effects, you can geotag your photo and tick boxes for sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and Tumblr. By default, the photo is also uploaded to your Instagram photo feed, which is visible to anyone who follows you (unless you’ve made it private, of course).

It would be nicer if you could save the photo to your device as you can with, well, every other photo-effects app.

You can easily waste hours surfing quirky and funny photos, thanks to a tab at the bottom of your feed called Popular. When you click this, the app opens a grid of the most “hearted” photos at that moment. It’s a great time suck, especially if you like cute cats and emo-filtered landscapes. However Instagram could really use a button that lets you re-share other users’ photos you like, kind of like Twitter’s retweet function or the reblog feature on Tumblr. I suppose that would bring up too many copyright and ownership questions, however.  

Buggy
I tested Instragram on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0.2 and, as expected for a pilot version, experienced a few crashes. Within two days, it’s already been updated to version 1.0.2 with bug fixes. Worse, I’ve also read that the app is incompatible with the camera drivers in many HTC devices, like the One X and Sensation 4G.

Instagram for Android’s strength relies on its robust photo community, rather than photo editing utility. It’s a simple, fun way to discover and instantly share photos with friends and strangers, but in terms of editing it’s even less useful than the stock Android camera. Stilll, after playing with Instagram for a while, I could start to feel the pull of addiction. It’s just so quick and easy to create and share a folksy snapshot of my life. Instagram isn’t a perfect app, but its popularity is easy to understand.

For more Android Software, see:

•   Instagram (for Android)
•   Opera Mini 7 (for Android)
•   Norton One
•   iOnRoad Augmented Driving (for Android)
•   File Manager
•  more

Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2402663,00.asp

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01 Mar 12 Enjoy Chrome for Android Beta on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G


Mobile browsing has reached another milestone as Hugo Barra, Google’s product management director for Android showed off the new Chrome app for Android smartphones at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2012 at Barcelona. According to Barra, the new Chrome app for Android was created by teams from Chrome and Android that aimed to develop a browser that is not only fast but clean and simple as well, not to mention that it meets all security requirements too.

To really wow the audience, Hugo Barra made use of a Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G smartphone and demonstrated the mobile browser’s impressive features for web browsing and fast load times. In addition to that, Barra also said that the Chrome app for Android is able to predict the webpage you want to go to as you type the URL and is already preloading the page as you do so resulting to unprecedented fast load times like we’ve never seen before on a smartphone.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G starting at $99.

The Chrome for Android Beta app is already available in US shores as the United States is already included in the list of countries where the app has been made available but since the app will only run on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, only the portion of the population rocking a Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G will get to enjoy super-fast browsing using the Chrome for Android Beta app for now. In the meantime, let us check out the impressive specs sheet of the “chosen” handset which is lucky enough to have ICS in its innards with our mini-review of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G below.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G reached official status back in October and was announced alongside the release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest iteration of the Google mobile operating system. The handset packs a curved design in a form factor that has measurements of 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9 mm while its catch weight is pegged at 135 grams.

Under the hood, we see the fire-breathing components that line the internals of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G. At the heart of its operations, a Texas Instruments OMAP4460 chipset powers the operating system of the handset while a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor running at a clock speed of 1.2 GHz is paired with a full gigabyte of RAM to ensure that the performance of the handset remains perpetually snappy and stutter-free. The storage space of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G is pegged at 16GB but sad to say, the handset does not come with a dedicated microSD card slot for memory expansion purposes. As for its display, the 4.65-inch SuperAMOLED panel of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G also has a curved design as it follows the profile of its chassis and its resolution is at 1280 x 720 pixels with the panel itself given an oleophobic coating to protect it from unsightly scratches. One of the pain points of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G though is its below-par 5MP rear shooter while its front-facing 1.3MP camera completes the camera ensemble of the handset.

Despite the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G is not as perfect as we want it to be, it still has impressive specs to bring to the table and the fact that it already got first dibs on ICS, and consequently, Chrome for Android Beta which takes mobile browsing a notch higher, the handset remains by far the best Android-powered smarpthone to hit the market.  Buy the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G starting at just $99.

Article source: http://www.mobilebloom.com/enjoy-chrome-for-android-beta-on-the-samsung-galaxy-nexus-4g/2210571/

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01 Mar 12 Enjoy Chrome for Android Beta on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G


Mobile browsing has reached another milestone as Hugo Barra, Google’s product management director for Android showed off the new Chrome app for Android smartphones at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2012 at Barcelona. According to Barra, the new Chrome app for Android was created by teams from Chrome and Android that aimed to develop a browser that is not only fast but clean and simple as well, not to mention that it meets all security requirements too.

To really wow the audience, Hugo Barra made use of a Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G smartphone and demonstrated the mobile browser’s impressive features for web browsing and fast load times. In addition to that, Barra also said that the Chrome app for Android is able to predict the webpage you want to go to as you type the URL and is already preloading the page as you do so resulting to unprecedented fast load times like we’ve never seen before on a smartphone.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G starting at $99.

The Chrome for Android Beta app is already available in US shores as the United States is already included in the list of countries where the app has been made available but since the app will only run on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, only the portion of the population rocking a Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G will get to enjoy super-fast browsing using the Chrome for Android Beta app for now. In the meantime, let us check out the impressive specs sheet of the “chosen” handset which is lucky enough to have ICS in its innards with our mini-review of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G below.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G reached official status back in October and was announced alongside the release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest iteration of the Google mobile operating system. The handset packs a curved design in a form factor that has measurements of 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9 mm while its catch weight is pegged at 135 grams.

Under the hood, we see the fire-breathing components that line the internals of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G. At the heart of its operations, a Texas Instruments OMAP4460 chipset powers the operating system of the handset while a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor running at a clock speed of 1.2 GHz is paired with a full gigabyte of RAM to ensure that the performance of the handset remains perpetually snappy and stutter-free. The storage space of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G is pegged at 16GB but sad to say, the handset does not come with a dedicated microSD card slot for memory expansion purposes. As for its display, the 4.65-inch SuperAMOLED panel of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G also has a curved design as it follows the profile of its chassis and its resolution is at 1280 x 720 pixels with the panel itself given an oleophobic coating to protect it from unsightly scratches. One of the pain points of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G though is its below-par 5MP rear shooter while its front-facing 1.3MP camera completes the camera ensemble of the handset.

Despite the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G is not as perfect as we want it to be, it still has impressive specs to bring to the table and the fact that it already got first dibs on ICS, and consequently, Chrome for Android Beta which takes mobile browsing a notch higher, the handset remains by far the best Android-powered smarpthone to hit the market.  Buy the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G starting at just $99.

Article source: http://www.mobilebloom.com/enjoy-chrome-for-android-beta-on-the-samsung-galaxy-nexus-4g/2210571/

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14 Feb 12 Chrome for Android Mobile Browser Proves Speedy, Slick


On Feb. 6, Google unveiled the Chrome for Android, mobile version of the company’s Web browser, which is currently used by more than 200 million desktop users worldwide. Speed, ease of use, simple sign-in, privacy and bookmark sync are the key functions in Chrome for Android, which is currently in beta. Users can quickly scroll through Web pages. The browser also leverages the company’s Instant predictive search software to load top search results in the background as the user types. Mobile Chrome also includes a link preview feature that zooms in on links so that users don’t have to hunt and peck for content. eWEEK has always had a keen interest in Chrome on the desktop, so we felt we needed to test the new mobile browser. The caveat is that Chrome for Android only runs on Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, devices, which includes the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone and some tablets such as MIPS’ Novo7. We asked Google for a Galaxy Nexus to test the new browser, and we received one for this test. Here is eWEEK’s hands-on exploration of Chrome for Android.

Article source: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/Chrome-for-Android-Mobile-Browser-Proves-Speedy-Slick-421287/

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