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26 Dec 12 Videocon launches dual-SIM A20 and A30 Android smartphones

After launching budget feature phones earlier this year, Videocon has now forayed into the budget Android market with two new smartphones, the A20 and A30. The A20 is priced at Rs. 4,999 while the A30 costs Rs. 7,299.

The A20 runs on Android 2.3 and sports a 3.5-inch HVGA display and features a 3-megapixel rear camera and a VGA front-facing camera. It is powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor underneath with 256MB RAM. It comes with a 1350mAh battery. The smartphone has 512MB of on-board storage with external expansion options upto 32GB via microSD card.

The A30 on the other hand comes with beefed up specs in comparison to the A20. The device runs on Android 4.0 and has a 4-inch WVGA display, a 5-megapixel auto-focus rear camera with LED flash and a VGA front-facing camera. Under the hood, it features a 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 512MB RAM and comes with 4GB internal storage (expandable upto 32GB). It has a 1500mAh battery.

Connectivity options on these dual-SIM smartphones include 3G (HSDPA 7.2Mbps), Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0. Both devices also come with various pre-installed apps including Facebook, History Eraser and more.

Current mobile offerings from Videocon in the feature phone segment include V1528, V1531+, V1542, V1544, V1548 and V1580 ranging from Rs. 1,799 to Rs. 2,999.

Videocon A20 Specifications

  • 3.5-inch (480×320 pixels) capacitive touch screen display
  • Dual SIM (GSM + GSM) with dual standby
  • 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 3-megapixel rear camera
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • 3G (HSDPA 7.2Mbps), Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth with A2DP and GPS
  • FM Radio with Recording
  • 512MB internal storage expandable memory up to 16GB with micro SD
  • 1350 mAh battery
  • Android 2.3

Videocon A30 Specifications

  • 4-inch (800×480 pixels) capacitive touch screen display
  • Dual SIM (GSM + GSM) with dual standby
  • 1 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage expandable memory up to 32 GB with micro SD
  • 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • 3G (HSDPA 7.2Mbps), Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP and GPS
  • FM Radio with Recording
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • Android 4.0

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12 Jun 12 Samsung Chromebox: Chrome OS meets the desktop

When we think of Chrome OS, most of us think of the Chromebook — the custom laptop built to run Google’s cloud-centric platform. Now, though, the Chromebook has a new friend: the Chromebox, Google’s first attempt at bringing cloud computing into the world of desktop PCs.

The Chromebox, manufactured by Samsung and available for $329, is exactly what you’d expect: Chrome OS in a box. A small box, too: The Chromebox is a square 7.6 inches that sits just 1.3 inches tall. But inside that box sits a large amount of power.

Chromebox and Chrome OS: The need for speed

In case you haven’t been following along, I’ve been using Chrome OS for the bulk of my computing needs these past several days. It’s part of my two-week Chrome OS experiment; I wanted to immerse myself in Google’s latest hardware and software advances in order to get the full experience of what it’s like to use Chrome OS in the real world.

The Chromebox is an important part of that experience. While most users veer toward the portable Chrome OS configuration, the Chromebox is a natural step forward from there — for business and education users, for sure, but also for more casual Chrome OS converts who are ready to ditch their old operating systems and move completely into Google’s cloud-centric universe.

Like with the Chromebook, the first thing you notice about the Chromebox is how fast and simple it is to use. The Chromebox powers up in about four to five seconds; once you type in your Google credentials, it’s literally another second or two until you’re sitting in a browser window, online and ready to go — no cumbersome setup required. If you use Chrome (the browser) anywhere else, all of your bookmarks, settings, and extensions will automatically be synced and waiting for you. You’ll even see your most recent open tabs from other Chrome-connected devices — both PCs and Android phones/tablets.

The Chromebox runs on a dual-core 1.9GHz Intel Celeron processor along with 4GB of RAM, giving it more than enough horsepower to keep up with your tasks. The lag and sluggishness we saw with the first generation of Chrome OS devices is gone; the Chromebox is as snappy and speedy as the latest Chromebook, and even with dozens of tabs open, I didn’t encounter a single stutter or slowdown.

Chromebox connectivity

Samsung’s Chromebox has six (!) USB 2.0 ports — four on the back and two on the front — along with two DisplayPort++ connectors and a DVI output. It’s lacking a regular VGA monitor port, however, which could give you trouble if you’re using that type of cable — even with an adaptor. Chrome OS automatically detects and adjusts your screen resolution, and at this point, there’s no way to manually tweak that setting. When I tried connecting a monitor using a VGA cable with a VGA-to-DVI adaptor, the system failed to get the resolution right and gave me a blown-up, low-res display. When I switched to a straight DVI cable, everything worked correctly.

The Chromebox can connect to your TV via HDMI; you’ll just need the right cable to make it work. The device has no standard HDMI outport, so you’ll have to use either the DVI or DisplayPort connector to set things up.

One beef I have with the current Chrome OS display situation is the lack of support for a dual-monitor, extended-desktop configuration. Particularly on the desktop PC front, I like working with two monitors. The Chromebox can support multiple monitors, but right now, it only allows you to duplicate your display on the second monitor — which isn’t terribly useful. A Google rep tells me extended-desktop functionality is on the way, but there’s no definite time frame for its arrival just yet.

The Chromebox doesn’t come with any special accessories, so you’ll supply your own keyboard and mouse. (The system is Bluetooth 3.0 compatible, so you can go wireless if you want.) Google has confirmed to me that a Chrome OS-specific keyboard — known for its unique layout and stylewill be sold as a separate accessory, but there’s no word yet when it’ll become available.

With the desktop setup, though, having a Chrome OS-specific keyboard isn’t really necessary. Any regular keyboard works fine, and most of the Chrome OS-specific functions map over to the standard layout seamlessly: The F1 key acts as a “back” button, for example, while F4 toggles windows from full-screen to partial-screen mode.

The Chromebox experience

In general, I’ve found it quite pleasant to use Google’s Chromebox computer. Chrome OS translates nicely into the desktop environment, and for the most part, it’s been a novel and refreshing change from my typical Windows 7 desktop environment.

In the morning, for example, the Chromebox has me online in about 10 seconds flat; three or four minutes later, my Windows system is almost booted up and done loading its numerous drivers and background processes. Chrome OS does away with all the hassles of the traditional operating system, from drivers and complicated compatibility issues to cumbersome software updates and virus infection worries. And thanks to the nature of the system, it doesn’t get progressively slower and more bogged down over time. I don’t know about you, but that’s all very welcome news to me.

(For much more on the software side of the experience, see my in-depth look at the latest incarnation of Chrome OS.)

Android Power TwitterStill, the setup isn’t perfect — and it certainly isn’t for everyone. In the final chapter of my Chrome OS experiment, I’ll wrap up my two weeks living with Chrome OS and attempt to reach some final conclusions. I’ll bring together the good and the bad of both Google’s new hardware and evolved software and weigh it all out with the prices of the devices.

The Chrome OS experiment ends in two days. Until then, you can catch up on the rest of my journey in the box below:

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31 May 12 Google Chrome OS lives on with big update, new hardware

The latest version of Google’s cloud-centric Chrome OS resembles a “regular” desktop operating system in a lot of ways. The revamp, and new Chromebook and Chromebox hardware from Samsung, show how much Chrome OS has matured in the three years since its inception.


Jeff Ward-Bailey /
May 30, 2012

The Samsung Series 5 550 is the newest “Chromebook.” It’s significantly faster than previous laptops running Google’s Chrome OS.


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Google’s Chrome OS didn’t make much of a splash when it debuted, but it’s back with a big update and some new hardware to run it.

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Google and Samsung introduced a revamped Chromebook laptop on Tuesday, as well as a new Chromebox – a small desktop computer that also works nicely as a media center. The experience is still aimed at those who do their work in the cloud and don’t need a full desktop operating system like Windows or Mac OS X, but Chrome OS has matured enough to be attractive to the average consumer, too.

First, the software. When the first Chromebooks came out last year, Chrome OS got dinged by reviewers who said it was too limited and couldn’t handle many kinds of files. This time around, Chrome OS (now on version 19, if you’re counting) includes a taskbar and a window management style that’s much closer to what you’d find in, say, Windows 7. And while it’s still really designed to be used while you’re online, constantly syncing your files to the cloud, Chrome OS also offers basic offline file management – and it can deal with more types of files than ever before.

RELATED: Top 5 Google Labs projects

“The Docs team is also in the final stages of a seamless offline mode for Google Docs, which would be huge,” The Verge noted. “Offline support is currently the Achilles’ heel of the Chromebook, since there’s really not much you can get done without an internet connection.”

In spite of all these changes, reviews are mixed. The consensus seems to be that while Chrome OS has matured quite a bit since its inception, it’s still a niche product. CNET’s Bridget Carey concludes that “it’s better than the last version, but still not all that impressive.” Engadget’s Dana Wollman adds that “as Google starts selling more Chrome devices in retail, we have a harder time believing many consumers will be ready to put up with [its] limitations, especially as tablet apps grow more sophisticated.”

By contrast, the new Chrome OS hardware is being (generally) well-received. In addition to having a little more power under the hood than its predecessor — reviewers say both the Chromebook and Chromebox run Google’s OS smoothly — the 12.1″ Samsung Series 5 550 also features a better webcam, less-fussy trackpad, and nifty video port that works with HDMI, DVI, or VGA cables. On the flip side, the price of entry is $449 (more if you want a 3G connectivity baked in), meaning that it’s more expensive than many tablets and only $50 less than Apple’s new iPad.

The Chromebox, also built by Samsung, is cheaper still – just $330 for the pint-sized (7.6 square inches) box. It’s fairly anemic compared to other desktop operating systems, but with three display ports and six USB ports it’s practically begging to be used as a media center anyway. There’s no optical drive, so you won’t be able to play Blu-rays discs, but it does have a super-speedy solid-state hard drive and a five-second boot time.

Chrome OS may not be for everyone yet — it’s still primarily aimed at on-the-go workers who can count on a constant Internet connection — but it’s making strides with these new updates.

Readers, what do you think? Given the relatively low barrier to entry, are you tempted to pick up a Chromebook or Chromebox? Let us know in the comments section below.

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

RELATED: Top 5 Google Labs projects

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31 May 12 Samsung to launch new Chromebooks as Google updates open source Chrome OS

Samsung will launch two new Chrome OS-based computers this week, a laptop and a desktop that have been designed to be significantly faster and more versatile than previous models.

Along with the new Samsung machines, Google is announcing enhancements to Chrome OS and Google Apps, including tight integration with Google Drive and the ability to edit Google Docs documents offline.

Chrome OS-based machines began shipping commercially about a year ago from Samsung and Acer. Although the machines haven’t exactly taken the PC market by storm, Google is satisfied with the progress so far.

“We’re very happy with where we are. We strongly believe in the vision we articulated last year,” said Caesar Sengupta, product management director, Chrome OS.

Referred to generically as “Chromebooks,” these machines and the Chrome OS were designed to be used primarily while connected to the internet and for online applications.

According to Sengupta, Google and its partners haven’t pushed Chromebooks aggressively, so they have been bought primarily by early adopters, whose feedback has been closely listened to.

“We’re at a point where, from the user-experience point of view, we’re starting to be happy with it and we’re now ready to take the next step in this journey,” he said.

That next step includes broadening the roster of hardware partners, as well as making the machines more widely available. The new Samsung models will be available online today in the UK, and they will be for sale also at select Best Buy stores in the US in June.

Samsung Series 5 Wireless Chromebook

At the software level, the new machines will feature what Google calls an “apps-centric user interface” that will feature, for example, a simplified app launcher, the ability to have multiple windows open for multitasking and support for screen sizes ranging from 11 inches to 30 inches.

Coming later will be a tight integration with the Google Drive cloud storage service, as well as the ability to edit Google Docs documents when the machine is offline. When available, this Google Docs offline editing feature will be available to all Google Docs users, not just people who buy these new Samsung machines.

Other new features include a more sophisticated media player, as well as a native photo editor and uploader, and enhanced video streaming options for YouTube, Netflix and other such sites.

Forrester analyst Frank Gillett said the combination of the Chrome OS update, the improved devices from Samsung and the integration with Google Drive amounts to “a credible basic computing offering”.

“The new Chromebook and Chromebox are now capable enough to meet the needs of individuals and employees that need access to browser-based services and applications for use cases such as schools, retail, call centre, and temporary field sites in range of mobile data or Wifi,” Gillett said.

The Chrome OS machines will not displace existing computers quickly, but they will gain increasing consideration from individuals and businesses as they make their next buying decisions, he said.

“With Apple and Microsoft both delivering new operating system versions this year, buyers face more choice in PC OS experiences than ever. The simplicity and low costs of Chrome OS devices will be appealing to enough buyers with narrow needs that Google will continue to develop and invest in Chrome OS,” Gillett said.

An open question is whether hardware manufacturers will be happy with producing relatively low-priced products that probably deliver thin margins, he said, speculating that Google is likely to be providing some kind of financial guarantees to ensure the OEMs are happy with revenues and profits on these devices.

Samsung’s Chromebook Series 5 550 laptop has a 12.1-inch display (1280×800) and weighs 3.3 pounds, and its battery lasts for six hours of continuous usage, or six-and-a-half days in standby mode. It has an Intel Celeron 867 dual-core processor running at a clock speed of 1.3GHz, 4G bytes of RAM and a built-in, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n antenna and a Gigabit Ethernet port. A 3G modem is optional.

The machine, which will also have two USB 2.0 ports, a 4-in-1 memory card slot and a DisplayPort++ Output compatible with HDMI, DVI and VGA, will cost $449 (£289) for the Wi-Fi-only version and $549 (£353) for the 3G models.

Meanwhile, the desktop, called Samsung Chromebox Series 3, has an Intel Celeron B840 dual-core processor running at a clock speed of 1.9GHz, 4G bytes of RAM, a built-in, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n antenna and a Gigabit Ethernet port. It also features six USB 2.0 ports, a DVI single link output, a 2x DisplayPort++ Output compatible with HDMI, DVI and VGA, and compatibility with Bluetooth 3.0 technology. It costs $329 (£211) and doesn’t include a monitor, keyboard or mouse.

Compared with the first-generation Chromebooks, the Samsung laptop is two-and-a-half times faster, while the desktop is three-and-a-half times faster, according to Google. They boot up in seven seconds and five seconds, respectively. First-generation Chromebooks use Intel Atom chips.

Beyond the consumer market, Google and its partners also pitch Chrome machines to businesses and educational institutions. So far, more than 500 schools have bought Chromebooks, while business customers include retailer Dillard’s and Mollen Clinics.

In their first iteration, these machines have been sold to schools and businesses using per user/per month pricing, but now they will be sold under the more conventional per-machine, one-time payment model, plus a one-time fee for the online IT management console, around-the-clock phone technical support and hardware warranty that are provided to these customers.

Thus, business and education customers will pay the suggested retail price for each machine, plus a one-time fee of $150 (businesses) or $30 (schools) per machine for the management console, support and warranty. The IT management controls have been enhanced with new features like auto-update controls and new reporting capabilities.

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23 May 12 VIA Takes On Raspberry Pi with $49 Android PC

VIA Technologies on Tuesday unveiled a tiny, caseless desktop computer called the APC 8750 that runs Android and has a low, low price that comes within spitting distance of the celebrated Raspberry Pi.

The chip maker’s APC sports its own VIA WonderMedia ARM 11 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) and costs just $49, as PCMag’s sister site reported earlier. That’s a few bucks more than the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s $35 barebones PC, but still miles cheaper than just about any other fully functioning PC on the market.

“APC brings the familiarity and convenience of Android to the PC at a $49 price point that will open up exciting new markets and applications. Like a bicycle for your mind, APC will enable more people than ever before to explore the vast online universe,” said Richard Brown, VIA’s vice president of marketing.

So what are you getting with the APC? Maybe it’s best to start with what you’re not—a case. The APC’s chip, memory, storage, and I/O ports all exist on an open motherboard that’s based on the new 17 centimeter-by-8.5 centimeter Neo-ITX form factor. Users can simply plug the APC directly into a TV or monitor, or else stick it into a standard Mini-ITX or microATX chassis if they choose.

The little PC runs an optimized version of Google’s Android 2.3 that is built for mouse and keyboard input. VIA’s WonderMedia SoC sports an 800MHz clock and its go 512MB of DDR3 memory to play with, plus 2GB of built-in NAND Flash graphics with hardware acceleration that the chip maker claims can chew through “the most demanding video formats.”

The system consumes 4 watts at idle and 13.5 watts at maximum load, according to VIA.

You’re also getting VGA and HDMI display ports, HDTV support, four USB 2.0 ports, a microSD slot for adding more onboard storage, a 10/100 Ethernet port, audio and mic, and a 15W power adapter.

The goal was to create a super affordable, low power system that just gets users to the Internet where, just like those bedrooms you see on MTV Cribs, the “magic happens,” according to VIA.

“APC was not built like an ordinary PC. For openers, we started with an awareness that the purpose of a computer is to connect to the Internet. It is the Internet that now defines computing. When you begin here, magic happens,” the company said.

Interested parties will be able to pre-order the APC “soon,” according to VIA’s promotional site. The company expects to start shipping in early July.

For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.

For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.

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12 Apr 12 Samsung announces new Galaxy lineup for phones and tablets

Samsung on Wednesday announced pricing and availability details for three upcoming Android-powered devices that will soon join the vendor’s ever expanding lineup of Galaxy-brand devices. 

Continuing its efforts to address a variety of price ranges and screen sizes in order to give consumers as many options as possible, Samsung will launch two new Galaxy Player devices and two new Galaxy Tab tablets between now and mid-May.

Already available nationwide at Best Buy, Samsung‘s entry-level Galaxy Player 3.6 offers a 3.65-inch HVGA display, a 1GHz Cortex A8 CPU, a 2-megapixel rear camera, a VGA front-facing camera, 8GB of internal storage expandable to 40GB, and Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

The budget Wi-Fi-only player aims to take on Apple’s iPod touch at an iPod nano price point, costing just $149.99.

Samsung‘s Galaxy Player 4.2 is a new addition to the Player family, featuring a 4.2-inch WVGA display, a 1GHz Cortex A8 processor, 8GB of internal storage expandable to 40GB, Samsung‘s SoundAlive audio enhancement engine, Android 2.3 Gingerbread and the TouchWiz UI.

The vendor announced on Wednesday that pre-orders will be made available for the Galaxy Player 4.2 beginning May 4th, and it will launch on May 13th for $199.99.

Finally, Samsung has announced pricing and availability for two of its next-generation Galaxy tablets. The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 features a 7-inch 1,024 x 600-pixel display, 8GB of internal storage expandable to 40GB, 50GB of free Dropbox storage for a year, a dual-core 1GHz processor, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the TouchWiz UI.

It will launch on April 22nd for $249.99, and pre-orders begin on April 12th.

The Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 includes a 10.1-inch 1,280 x 800-pixel display, a dual-core 1GHz processor, 16GB of internal storage, microSDHC support, 50GB of free Dropbox storage for a year, a 3-megapixel rear camera, a VGA front-facing camera, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the TouchWiz UI. Like the 7-inch model, the tablet features a built-in IR blaster and Samsung‘s Smart Remote software capable of controlling a huge range of HDTVs and components, as well as any other device that can be controlled with a universal remote.

Pre-sales kick off on May 4th and the Tab 2 10.1 will launch on May 13th for $399.99.

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03 Apr 12 Android 4.0 Forces Samsung To Delay Galaxy Tablets

10 Things Tablets Still Can't Do
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Samsung has pushed back the release of it second-generation tablets from the end of March to the end of April. The delay, according to a Samsung spokesperson, is because the company needs more time to work on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. That’s funny, because Samsung has had access to Ice Cream Sandwich longer than any other hardware maker.

Google released Android 4.0 in October. Samsung released the global variant of Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0 on board in November, followed by the U.S. Verizon version in December. Other OEMs didn’t gain access to the Ice Cream Sandwich source code until November, about a month after Samsung got its hands on it.

The Galaxy Tab 2–both the 7-inch 7.0 version and the 10-inch 10.1 version–will be the first tablets to ship from Samsung with Android 4.0 on board. Android 4.0 offers a number of system-wide improvements when compared to earlier versions of Android.

The two Tab 2s are powered by dual-core 1-GHz processors, accompanied by 1 GB of RAM. Most new smartphones are shipping with 1.2-1.5-GHz dual-core chips. The Tabs supports worldwide 3G data, with HSPA+ at 21-Mbps in the 850/900/1900/2100-MHz bands, in addition to 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, USB 2.0, and a bevy of sensors.

[ See Apple's New iPad Tops Consumer Reports' Ratings. ]

The Tab 2 (7.0) has a seven-inch display, with 1024 x 600 pixels. The Tab 2 (10.1) has a 10.1-inch display with 1280 x 800 pixels. Both come with two cameras: a 3-megapixel fixed-focus main camera, and a VGA user-facing camera for video calling. They can record HD video at 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second.

They will ship in three different storage variations: 8 GB, 16 GB, and 32 GB. All three will include a microSD card slot supporting an addition 32 GB of storage. The Tab 2 shaves a little thickness and weight when compared to the original, but not much. The Tab 2 (7.0) measures 0.41 inches thick and weighs 12.1 ounces, or about 0.75 pounds if you prefer.

The Tab 2 (7.0) and (10.1) are not bad efforts, but they are not very sexy. They lack 4G support of any kind, the cameras are low in quality, the processor and memory setups are already outdated, and Samsung already makes tablets that measure 7.7 inches, 8.9 inches, and 10.1 inches.

Samsung says Android 4.0 on the Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) and (10.1) is much faster than Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with a better app and user interface response. Faster is (nearly) always better, as laggy software is frustrating. Let’s hope so, because this is the second delay Samsung has admitted to due to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Last month, Samsung delayed Android 4.0 for the Galaxy Note.

As businesses rely increasingly on tablets for the productivity benefits they provide, IT must address the security challenges the devices present. Find out more in our Security Pro’s Guide To Tablet PCs report. (Free registration required.)

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