Omio News Blog

Monthly Archives: May 2009

LG Launches GW520 And GT505, Midrange Social Networking Phones

Following on from the surprising yet entirely deserved success of the LG KS360, the Korean manufacturer has gone back to the social networking well to bring up two new handsets made with constant connectivity in mind.

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The LG GW520 (which Omio revealed last month going by the pseudonym ‘Calisto’) is a 3G social networking handset first, a touchscreen device with both a 2.8″ screen and full QWERTY keyboard, as well as a 3 megapixel camera.

Looking like a more refined (=less girly) KS360, the GW520 goes beyond offering robust web browsing, mail, text and instant messaging functionality by providing push e-mail via Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, social networking feed updates on your homepage, and LiveSquare which presents your favourite contacts as little avatars milling about on your home screen. Cute touch.

The LG GW520 will be available across most networks in June, pricing is to be determined.

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The LG GT505 is the second handset announced, a full touch device geared towards navigation with a free trial of turn-by-turn GPS software Wisepilot, a 5 megapixel camera and HSDPA 3G connectivity. It will be released on Orange in June, with no mention of other networks or pricing.

Palm Pre Syncs With iTunes, Has Twitter Integration

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iPhone converts fear not, your massive collection of Bulgarian folk music can come with you when you defect to the Palm Pre! Yes, the heavily hyped handset had one last trick up it’s sleeve to announce before the June 6th US launch, as it has recently been announced that the Palm Pre will be able to effortlessly connect to Apple’s platform.

Interestingly, any songs with DRM protection won’t be able to make the leap onto your device, meaning all of those songs that you spent your hard earned iTunes vouchers on will have to stay put, whilst music from ‘other’ sources should work fine…

Apple wasn’t happy with the Pre’s potentially patent-infringing ways already, and this move is sure to have their lawyer-senses tingling!

Another move to show the Palm Pre is on the networking pulse is the announcement of Twitter integration. The Pre Univeral Search function allows users to look through the entire handset as well as the web, browsing through mail, contacts and now tweets to find what you’re looking for.

Judging by most of the random spoutings people tweet about, this new change might actually make finding things harder

Source: Electric Pig

Sony Ericsson Unveils Three New Entertinment Handsets, Idou Becomes ‘Satio’

Last night saw Sony Ericsson lay on a global launch event, officially repositioning themselves as the communications entertainment brand with a range of slick new handsets.

All bases were covered as a new gaming phone, multimedia snapper and newly-monickered flagship device were unveiled by Sony Ericsson in Central London.

First up was the Yari, a true gaming handset which brings innovative gesture based fun to a compact slider device. Using a front-facing camera, the Yari allows players to duck and weave in front of the screen to play boxing, or do Wii Fit-style squat and stretch exercises.

It also has sensors to detect movement, allowing for bowling and golf games controlled by simply swinging the handset…also a lot like the Wii.

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The Yari is also a decent looking handset, the simple style and lack of clutter on the front evoking a personal media player, yet still containing loads of buttons and a d-pad. Features are also impressive with a 5 megapixel autofocus camera, GPS and also the PlayNow Arena allowing easy downloads of new titles directly from the home screen.

More of an a gaming revolution than a mobile one, the Yari is due for release in Q4 of 2009, with pricing as yet unconfirmed.

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Second on the bumper showcase was the Sony Ericsson Aino, a dual-purpose slider that is an unassuming 8.1 megapixel camera phone when open, and a fully touch-driven multimedia powerhouse when shut!

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Seemingly more at home in landscape mode, the Aino’s 3″ display only works a touchscreen when the phone is closed, with the handset returning to normal duties when the keypad is revealed.

With the ability to stream media from a Playstation 3 pitched as a major plus point, as well as bundled wireless headphones, 8GB microSD card and dock allowing for instant syncing to a PC over Wi-Fi, the Aino is certainly shaping up to be the ultimate device for music and movies on the go.

The Aino is due for a Q4 2009 release, and check out the video below to see the bi-polar handset in action!

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The finale was the phone we had all been waiting for since being wowed at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona…the Idou! Except it’s now officially called the Sony Ericsson Satio!

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Running on Symbian, the Satio (still not used to calling it that…) is a full touch handset with a 12 megapixel camera, 8GB of memory from a micro SD card, and all manner of slick web-based functionality.

Seeing it in the flesh made their flagship device seem even more appealing, with the Satio feeling a lot lighter than it looks at 126g and the 3.5″ display showing amazing clarity and crispness.

Even on a early demo handset, scrolling felt smooth and the transitions between menus were at least on a par with other touch-based smartphones. The phone will apparently ship with a stylus, but we found that it was incredibly responsive to the touch, and navigating menus was a breeze.

From the home screen, swipes to the left and right move to different ‘pages’, offering easy access to the most frequently used functions such as images, the browser and music. Save for the three buttons at the base of the handset, the Satio is all about the touchscreen. It might run on Symbian, and the menu screen may look a little bit too familiar for Nokia users, but it is still very much a Sony Ericsson vibe on the handset.

A variation on the Playstation 3′s Cross Media bar is still used for navigating media (as is the case with all three devices), and the Walkman functionality is still leagues ahead of the rest, with only the iPhone’s gorgeous Touch Flow besting it.

More lovely trans-European aspirational marketing follows!

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Our take on the launch? Well, the idea is bold, and Sony Ericsson are certainly carving out a new path with these incredibly functionality-focussed devices, but we just hope that these handsets are still cutting edge by their respective release dates.

Touch-based, media-centric phones are not the future, they are right now, and as such these new phones and a new naming convention are almost the minimum that Sony Ericsson could do to remain relevant.

The clamour from the audience was a desire to see an even more dramatic departure, perhaps a reveal their recently confirmed Android phone or a new Xperia device…but this event was really about bolstering the entertainment side of things.

Are they abandoning the Cybershot and Walkman brands? Apparently not, it’s just that these Aino and pals will be on for sale as higher tier aspirational devices, whilst the ‘W’ and ‘C’ ranges will exist for those not looking for such an encompassing (and expensive) mobile experience.

The Yari will definitely court the casual player, but the Aino may lack the ‘tech’ factor that would interest gadget fans and gamers looking to view media on the go…worse yet, they already have a PSP to get their Remote Play fix.

PlayNow Arena and the Application Store are necessities as opposed to stand out features, but Sony Ericsson are ahead of the curve in realising the need for a robust computer client to get the most out of a mobile phone today.

The 90 day movie rentals, already converted for use on the phone, the instant syncing of content over wi-fi, the huge selection of media on offer, it all goes toward cementing Sony Ericsson as the communication entertainment brand, and sets them ahead of the curve in the industry in this respect.

As for the Satio, it is undoubtedly a very strong handset, but with the impending influx of Android handsets proving exciting, other manufacturers readying their own 12 megapixel cameraphones, and some huge devices like the Palm Pre and Nokia N97 all out before its Q3 release, will it have enough to prove appealing later in the year?

One thing that is sure is that Sony Ericsson has changed for the better in repositioning itself, are definitely responding to the market, and coming with one of the strongest line-ups yet seen! Let’s hope it’s enough, as the competition is equally fierce…

Android Onslaught In 2009, 18+ Phones Coming!

androidAndroid has been out for going on 8 months now, and it’s surprising that the number of phones actually in shops running it can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Even if that hand has only two fingers on it.

Well, the manufacturers are really going to fix that if Andy Rubin’s words are anything to go by.

The Boss of Google’s Mobile Stuff (probably not on his business card) stated that at least 18 mobiles from 8 or 9 manufacturers running on Android will be out and about by year end, and that the US lags behind European adoption of the platform as providers attempt to inject individuality into their devices.

He was also kind enough to illuminate us on the ‘with Google’ experience, and the different forms Android may take in these forthcoming devices:

- Google for free: Free (to download) version of Android, without Google applications like Gmail or Google Calendar. Access to Android market etc. is at the manufacturer’s discretion.


- Google, with caveats: Same as above but manufacturers sign a distribution agreement with Google, on the condition Google applications are installed.
Most of the new handsets for ’09 will be this type.


– The ‘with Google’ factor: Phones emblazoned with the Google logo (T-Mobile G1, HTC Magic on Vodafone) have all the Google apps installed, including unrestricted access (neither the network or manufacturer can block applications they find objectionable) to the Android market.
There will still be 5 or so handsets offering the ‘full fat’ Google experience.

Well, we have seen the first of Samsung’s output with the i7500/Galaxy getting plenty of exposure in recent weeks, and Motorola are BFF’s with Google at the moment so we know they are on board…what of Sony Ericsson and the rest?

Well, S-E admitted to be using the v2.0 or ‘Donut’ version of Android for their forthcoming handsets, will we be seeing it in 2009, however?

Time will tell…

Source: New York Times

Spotify Coming To Mobiles, Android App Demoed

Google’s I/O developer conference held this week has already divulged many details about the future of phones with the Android operating system, and undoubtedly the most exciting news for music fans was Spotify for mobiles!

The fabulous, free music streaming service enables access to millions of tracks from some of the biggest artists, and the mobile version (demonstrated below on the T-Mobile G1) also allows music to be synchronised for offline playback.

Finally, you will be able to take Spotify to places that your Wi-Fi/3G connection cannot reach!

Custom playlists and searches are also possible, as well as allowing the handset to add tracks instantly using the desktop version of Spotify.

The potential for such a robust service as Spotify on mobiles was huge, at it is so exciting to see a demo version achieving so much of it already! A release date has not been announced, neither has price.

Perhaps this will be what gets people subscribing to the ad-free Premium version…I’ll miss you ‘Adam from Spotify’!

Source: Talk Android / G1 News

HTC Touch Diamond 2 Gets Small Screen Debut

Proof now that HTC are building on their initial smartphone successes, with two UK tv ads showing off their new Touch Diamond 2 handset, forming part of their 6 month sponsorship of digital channel Film 4.

The adverts are really good, actually, love the way that they portray the same event (an anniversary) from two different points of view!

Him:

Her:

So true, and HTC’s UK telly debut really shows off the talents of the Touch Diamond 2 and Windows Mobile!

It’s already available to buy, and there are some really decent Touch Diamond 2 deals about.

Surprisingly, networks are pitching the handset firmly in the mid-range market, with bargain prices for such a capable (3.2″ touchscreen, 5MP camera, 3G and GPS) device.

Sony Ericsson W995 Takes To Streets, Tourists Impressed

Sony Ericsson have just released their W995 Walkman handset on SIM-free tariffs, and are getting real people on the streets of Central London involved to show off just how good it is.

8 megapixel camera:

Multimedia quality:

Noise cancelling headphones:

Thanks to Sony Ericsson for managing to use tourists, and not portraying London folk as the rude, selfish and uncool people we really are!

Nokia’s Ovi Store Opens Doors To Consumers

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Nokia, whilst no longer bleeding edge as a manufacturer, often takes the time to make sure that their output is always products and services done right.

The Finnish manufacturer might have initially slept on the potential of downloadable content whilst the iPhone sailed away with the hearts, minds and money of consumers, but today’s launch of the Ovi Store is set to change all that…they hope.

The global roll-out of a content download service to 50 million plus consumers could never have gone seamlessly, but a few hours in and a myriad of issues have been discovered by early adopters.

Complaints levelled at the service include performance issues (which have been addressed, at least by an official announcement), disappearing apps and confusing navigation, with searches bringing up seemingly unrelated results.

The items in the Ovi Store are broken up by various categories (including handset owned, an unfortunate side effect of catering for multiple hardware and software platforms), with all types of media bundled together from ringtones to movie trailers to games and applications.

Pricing is…as expected. There are loads of free titles, apps and ringtones to try out the service, however.

The games are familiar, with famous names like Bejewelled, Uno and Tower Bloxx all represented. The majority of titles are going for between £3 and £8.

Judging by the few titles with screenshots, these seem to be costly old-school Java mobile games, and a far-cry from the 59p gems on the App Store. Pricey.

There are also applications which are a little costly. Business apps are always a great place to find wallet-drainers, and sure enough there is a security program from F-Secure coting £35.99, a business card reader for £17.99 and a calendar for £21.99.

Not quite I Am Rich, but interesting to see that early adopters are willing to try out some more expensive titles. The revenue share is identical to the App Store, a 70/30 spilt, so it will be interesting to see if any developers are willing to take their chances with the as-yet-unproven Ovi Store.

Apple’s success has undoubtedly stemmed from the ingenuity of indie developers as much as the licensed titles, as games like Trism and the profusion of fart apps can attest. Nokia’s “Calling All Innovators” competitions have been with the sole aim of scouting the best apps, and hopefully we will see these on the Ovi Store in the coming months.

What does the Ovi Store do better? It will be location aware, to offer apps related to your current position geographically, and also show items that your friends have downloaded. Nokia even goes so far as to suggest that the Ovi service will be a ’smart store,’ offering a Tivo-style suggestion of apps that you may want to download based on previous choices!

If Nokia can get the service to actually work, can get the best games and most useful apps on the service at a reasonable price, and can intelligently suggest apps to users moving forward, then the Ovi Store could well be a worthy competitor to Apple’s behemoth.

With a billion app head start, does the iPhone already have an insurmountable lead?

O2 UK Bags Palm Pre As Network Exclusive?

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In a very interesting turn of events, The Guardian is reporting that the Palm Pre – the smartphone closest to an iPhone toppler – is going to O2 as a network exclusive.

Yes, the same O2 that currently has the iPhone 3G as an exclusive.

Being the biggest phone network in the UK is obviously working wonders for O2 in terms of leverage, as winning both of the year’s must-have smartphones will be a coup to leave the others floundering.

Vodafone has secured the HTC Magic with Google, an impressive device which seems to be just as appealing to consumers as T-Mobile’s exclusive G1, namely a little bit, but not nearly as rabid as the iPhone’s take-up.

Orange has become the latest to board the exclusivity train with Samsung’s i8910 HD, a touch screen phone which can record video in high-definition, but has uninspired looks and prohibitive pricing…

Interestingly, the Palm Pre deal seems to co-incide with the end of O2′s iPhone exclusivity deal in Europe, which means the network will still have a hot handset just as Apple’s latest becomes free to capture the attention of the masses.

That, in addition to the allure of possessing both touch and a physical keyboard, great web browsing and robust e-mail connectivity makes the Palm Pre an amazing catch for O2, with many critics seeing it a welcome respite from the sea of iPhone clones.

With a lack of details regarding a UK price and release date (as opposed to the wealth of info regarding the US launch), it makes for an interesting summer. Will they aim to beat the iPhone version 3 to market or undercut on price?

Either way, this could be the best few months for phone fans!

Sony Ericsson W995 Released, Try It Now!

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Hi, and welcome to Omio, brought to you by Sony Ericsson! Well, not really, it’s just that there has just been a wealth of information from these guys lately…

The Sony Ericsson W995 was released yesterday (May 25th), and before we see the various networks snapping it up on pay monthly deals, the handset has received a brief specs showcase on its very own site.

The ‘try the W995′ site allows you to enjoy the various features of the impressive convergent device, which marrys an 8.1 megapixel camera to robust Walkman functionality to make an all-in-one device for media savvy phone lovers.

This is certainly the flagship phone for Sony Ericsson this summer, and it’ll be interesting to see how they can court those previously jaded by the samey handsets released in previous months.

With a 3.5mm audio jack, dedicated music buttons, a media-viewing kickstand and available in 3 gorgeous colours, the W995 could be the phone to restore the Walkman name to its former glory…