Omio News Blog

Monthly Archives: August 2009

Samsung B3310: Cool QWERTY Slider For The IM Generation

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Seeing the immense success of the socially-aware LG KS360, Samsung have turned their hand to attracting chatty young things with a quirky QWERTY slider, the B3310.

The Samsung B3310 ticks all of the ‘cool by committee’ boxes – integrated Facebook, Flickr and MySpace widgets, a funky design, a bargain price and a variety of colours…including pink.

A Carphone Warehouse exclusive, the Samsung B3310 has a 2 megapixel camera, a teensy 2.1” screen, an FM radio for blaring the latest songs on public transport and a plain weird ‘piano’ layout for the 12 numerical keys on the front.

Having said that, we don’t quite understand the appeal of N-Dubz either, so probably aren’t equipped to find that a good design decision…

The in-crowd will be able to snap up a B3310 for £50 from next month, on pay as you go deals. Word.

UPDATE: Samsung B3310 Pink deals are now available on Omio! Check ‘em out!

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Toshiba TG02 Specifications Leak, Handset Nearing Release?

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Quick to put the memory of the TG01 behind them, Toshiba have been quick to submit the sequel – imaginatively named the TG02 – to the Wi-Fi Alliance for approval.

Despite leaked Toshiba roadmaps showing this phone to be aesthetically similar to the slender original with a well-endowed touchscreen, the Toshiba TG02 has now been confirmed as being of a different form factor altogether.

What we know from the manual is that it will share the 1GHz Snapdragon processor that made the original Toshiba TG01 such a speed demon (which then had its shoe laces tied together by Windows Mobile), a 3” WVGA touchscreen, a 0.8” external touchscreen (which confirms much ‘clamshell form factor’ chatter), and a full QWERTY keyboard.

Unwired View also notes the presence of Wi-Fi, GPS, microSD card slot and Bluetooth.

Let’s hope that it fares better than the TG01, word is that Windows Mobile 6.5 makes this new generation of smartphones run like a dream. Hopefully, we shall soon see…

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Nokia To Provide ‘Text To Pay’ Banking Service In 2010

nokia-obopayNokia once again demonstrates pioneering ideas in services as well as manufacturing with the unveiling of a finance system that aims to offer instant money transfers via a mobile phone.

In many parts of the developing world, banking infrastructures are rare whilst mobile phones are rife, making the device the perfect way to move money quickly and conveniently.

Using a system developed by recent acquisition Obopay, Nokia Money allows payments to be made by text, with funds payable from bank accounts, credit cards or into prepay accounts for those with no bank details.

The service will even let users buy products and pay for services, pay utility bills and top-up prepay SIM cards in their phones.

Nokia Money differs from internet based transaction methods with the web being a service in its infancy in many parts of the globe, the focus on transactions only requiring a phone number and an SMS shows the unique potential of the system.

“Rural consumers will particularly benefit from money transfers and, for urban consumers used to online services, we are enabling services such as payment of utility bills, purchase of train and movie tickets, top-ups, all through their mobile phones. Nokia Money is simple to use, secure and available across different operator networks and on virtually any mobile phone,” said Teppo Paavola, VP and Head of Corporate Business Development for Nokia.

Samsung S3650 Corby Announced: Could Stoke Be On The Cards?

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The Korean love affair with the English countryside continues as Samsung follows up the uniquely named S5600 ‘Preston’ by giving their latest bargain touchscreen handset another distinct monicker…

The Samsung S3650 Corby is a love letter to the leafy Northamptonshire borough, with the curved shape and rich yellow colour of the compact candybar handset echoing the trials and tribulations of the industrial town it takes the name from. Or perhaps not…

With a 2.8” QVGA display, changeable rear covers, a 2 megapixel camera, quad-band GSM connectivity, Bluetooth, FM radio and the usual suite of social networking sites supported, the S3650 Corby is an entry level touchscreen handset at £170 SIM-free, a little steep compared to many of the pay as you go phones currently on Omio.

The Corby could face some stiff competition in the form of the Nokia 5530 XpressMusic, another full touch phone posing the double threat of rock-bottom pricing and mid-range features, as well as the astronomic success of their own Samsung Tocco Lite, recently celebrating sales in excess of 5 million units.

With a September release date on the cards, the Corby could certainly benefit from a lower price point, or at least some sort of trouser press attachment

Facebook On iPhone Gets App Upgrade To 3.0

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The Facebook app for the iPhone has just been updated to 3.0, rolling out a host of new community requested features, including ‘liking’ of status updates, uploading of photos and creation of albums, and adding a fully customizable homepage.

The new version of the application provides easy access to more facets of the ever-popular social networking site, plugging the odd omissions including replying to event invites and tagging on photos, as well as introducing the newly bolted on features.

Having toyed with both extensively last night, the 3.0 Facebook update seems far more intuitive to reach both profile and friend pages more quickly, and the user interface is far more consistent without obscure lateral scroll bars and tiny icons. We think it’s an impressive enhancement to a very useful app, albeit with the occasional crash to the iPhone home screen.

Roll on push notifications and (hopefully) Scrabble support in version 3.1, we say!

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Palm Pre UK Release Date Leaked As October 30th?

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Americans have been enjoying the smartphone delights (whilst being creeped out by the ads) of the Palm Pre for the best part of three months now, but UK fans have been left in the dark regarding a release date for O2’s exclusive handset.

According to PalmWebOSBlog, the infamous ‘anonymous tipster’ has word that O2 store managers have been given a street date of October 30th.

An October 30th release is not outside of the realms of possibility, Fridays are often big launch days for both phones and video games, and it’s also payday…yay!

Also, a recent slip of the ‘Publish Page’ button on the O2 Germany website showed that it would indeed be a Palm Pre Oktoberfest for them…which was swiftly changed to a slightly vague ‘Fall’ release.

This news also puts paid to many rumours that the eagerly anticipated, celeb-friendly device would end up on British shores the wrong side of Xmas 2009, a move we deemed would have spelt the end for the petite slider before it was even released.

With the iPhone 3GS proving to be an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary update, the Palm Pre still has huge potential to prove a popular choice for those looking for something genuinely different.

Nokia 5230 Revealed: Finnish Manufacturer Expands Touch Phones Line Up

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Nokia dives headlong into touchy-feely waters with the new 5230, a full touch device that slots neatly beneath the 5800 and the recently unveiled 5530 XpressMusic as their entry level tactile device.

Shorn of the XpressMusic monicker, the Nokia 5230 takes a few hits on the features front with the loss of Wi-Fi and a downgrade to a two megapixel camera.

What is left is still an impressive loadout for a phone that costs a shade over £130: a 3.2″ touchscreen, 3G connectivity and GPS with Ovi Maps as standard, as well as an FM radio and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Nokia 5230 loses the name but not the spirit of the XpressMusic family, coming in a range of five cool colours, being equipped with a microSD card slot and a battery good for over 30 hours of music playback!

The handset is due for a Q4 release, with the popular all-you-can-eat Comes With Music download service available as a bundle in some countries.

This short video gives you an idea of what this bargain blower can do!

10 Reasons Why PSP Minis Are A Bad Idea

thumb160x_minisSony are in a tough position. We know it, they know it. So when they decided to rip out the disc drive and stick £100 on the price of the Playstation Portable, we were more than a little confused.

When they decided to announce ‘PSP Minis,’ a range of downloadable games for the format (which they insist are not apps), we were downright perplexed.

Apps work on the iPhone, and mobiles in general. The PSP is quite literally not a mobile phone and leave us fearful for the fate of both this new direction, and the format in general. We think it may not be the success they hope for many reasons, a few of which we have decided to mention here:

1. Shovelware

The iPhone has a lot of bad games, but the community rating systems mean the best things rise to the top, and word of mouth means the decent titles always get some visibility above the detritus. The PSP will soon see some of the best iPhone apps ported over, but a lot of them will be identical, and in many cases come off worse than the original.

Controlling Fieldrunners with an analogue nub over a grid is faster and less laborious than pinching and pulling on the iPhone 3GS? Even Pocket Gamer admitted it might not be the case.

“Subatomic has decided to leave the watertight gameplay alone in favour of slapping some extra layers of polish onto the game’s presentation,” seems to translate to “there is nothing new that the PSP can bring, so updates are largely cosmetic”.

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2. PSP Go is a bad idea.

A PSP Go is £225. £225. £30 less than a Sony Playstation 3, the most technically advanced games console currently available. It is, in terms of technical prowess and button layout, identical to the original PSP. People who buy this will only be able to play downloadable games from the Playstation Network, as it no longer has a disc drive to support the hundreds of games currently available for the PSP. This is the platform which Minis will be launched on, lauded about, and hopefully downloaded in their millions.

Stop me when this is starting to sound like a good idea.

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3. No Apps Allowed.

The best apps that people show each other down the pub aren’t the shooters or desktop defence games, as fun as they are. They are the apps that can split a bill seven ways with a 13% tip, show you the closest toilet, or name the tune that’s playing on the jukebox in seconds. To limit the ‘Minis’ to only games is understandable in terms of keeping the PSP focused on gaming, but narrowing the scope of what can be made is limiting to developers and is much to the device’s detriment.

At the time of writing, six of the top 25 paid titles on the App Store are actual applications, including the top-selling one. Would apps equally highlight the shortcomings of the PSP rather than provide an entertaining non-gaming distraction? With no internal camera or connectivity beyond Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, some of the most fun and functional apps wouldn’t be able to make the leap intact…

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4. Dev kits are too expensive.

€1,200. That’s how much it costs for the PSP development kit, suggesting that this is far more targeted at the small indie developer upwards, rather than the lone guy in a back room with some programming skills. The sign-up process requests all sorts of data including tax codes and company IP addresses, so Sony knows that they are limiting the potential gems that can be created to smaller dev houses belonging to big publishers. iPhone success stories like Trism and iShoot have turned one man dev teams into millionaires, those people may be immediately turned off by the initial barrier to entry posed by a pricey development toolset.

The great thing about the App Store is that those homegrown titles could stand shoulder to shoulder with the high profile, well-publicised efforts from behemoths like EA and Gameloft, and still sell on their own merits. Without that, the PSP Minis could be devoid of these smaller, more innovative arthouse titles, as publishers look to recoup on their portable gaming investment above all else.

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5. Already got a PSP? Tough.

This move to a download-only bitesize experience is totally at odds with what the Playstation Portable was about only a couple of years back, when the Nintendo DS Lite began to appeal to the mainstream. "We’re about bringing full length, hardcore gaming top the PSP," was the clarion call, an antidote to those quick-fix puzzle games and time killers the DS touted.

Well, the DS sold like a Katie Price book, as did iPhone apps, and now Sony are abandoning all that hardcore gamer cash with €1 downloadable mahjong and ports of mobile games. An interesting problem is the issue of whether they will stop selling games in the traditional UMD disc format, thereby forcing all those PSP1 owners to go digital and missing the point at the same time.

People that enjoy the DS or mobile phone gaming want a brief distration for five minutes, whilst PSP gamers want the full-fat experience. PSP Minis are filling a gap that may not have been there in the first place, except in Sony’s own balance sheets.

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6. 100MB Minis limit is constricting.

These 100MB file size limits for Minis are as restrictive as they are arbitrary. With the ample 16GB of internal memory the PSP Go has at its disposal, a 100MB limit is an unnecessary headache for the already stressed developer. iPhone apps sail into the hundreds of megabytes, with the beautiful vistas of Myst and side-splitting Monkey Island dialogue resulting in 533 and 351MB monsters respectively. XBox Live Arcade had an equally strict size limit which quickly rose from 50 to 350MB, and Shadow Complex released last week weighed in at 833MB. Either this restriction won’t last long, on the PSP Mini…

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7. Approval Process as strict as ever.

In an effort to maintain quality over quantity, Sony is said to have strict policies on content and Minis output, meaning that great idea that might have been turned down by the taste and decency board at Apple is no more likely to see the light of day on the PSP. Whilst Sony claim to be more transparent and clear than Apple, only checking for titles being structurally sound rather than for objectionable content, the official sign up page for prospective developers tells a different story….

With baby-shaking, stabbing and shooting people in the face amongst the previously approved titles on the App Store (albeit briefly), the fact that even titles which “reflect[s] adversely on the name, reputation or goodwill of Sony” will be denied PSP immortality doesn’t bode well for my profanity-filled tentacles vs. schoolgirl RPG…

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8. Lack of impulse purchasing.

The App Store is one icon away, a world of 59p impulse purchases can be bought whenever the feeling takes. The lack of data connectivity for the PSP combined with the fact that credit cards were the only way to purchase games on the Playstation Network, means that gamers wanting a PSP Minis hit will need a Wi-fi connection to connect and download. Without that always-on connectivity, impulsive feelings soon turn into premeditation and all of a sudden spending €4 on a video poker game feels like a bad idea.

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9. Lack of an innovative way to play.

As integral ot the iPhone gaming experience is the introduction of an interface that you didn’t need a PhD in Street Firghter 2 studies to play. No buttons to remember, no finger-crippling combinations, just swiping or poking at a screen to make things happen. Rolando was arguably an improvement on the impressive Loco Roco, with the intuitive tilting of the device replacing the shoulder button presses to great effect.

Porting the game in the other direction would be a step back, as all those barriers to players that the iPhone got rid of get put straight back up again with the PSP.

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10. They stole the name!

Okay, maybe they didn’t but our Omio Mini is cooler! It is currently residing on sites as awesome and varied as CNet and Review Centre, and allows for a complete and robust mobile deal comparison in numerous unique ways. On the other hand, we can’t provide you with fun bite-sized morsels of gaming pleasure, but we’re working on it…


HTC Mega Revealed, Images And Specs Leaked

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Whilst not as bad at keeping a secret as the likes of Sony Ericsson and Nokia, HTC are definitely no strangers to their forthcoming product range ending up on the wrong side of a Non Disclosure Agreement.

Today’s sneak peek is of the HTC Mega, and despite the name this handset can only be given an Omio rating ‘wicked’ or ‘fly,’ with a spec sheet that does not quite reach the dizzying heights of such a coveted exclamation.

Looking like a stripped down HTC Touch Diamond 2, the HTC Mega is a quad-band GSM handset with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth v2.0, A-GPS a 2.8″ QVGA screen to show off Windows Mobile 6.5 and a 3.2 megapixel camera, which can only be described as awesome at best.

Whilst the name might age badly, those features are pretty futureproof and will stand the Mega in good stead against the profusion of touch screen challengers.

A release date and pricing is still to be announced. Which is ace!

Source: air

Nokia Enters Laptop Market With Booklet 3G

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If Dell can make a phone, then the world’s largest mobile maker can come out with a netbook.

With impressive specs including a 10″ HD display, an HDMI port, integrated 3G and HSDPA as well as Wi-Fi and GPS and a cracking 12 hour battery life, the Booklet 3G shows Nokia are bringing their mobile credentials such to bear on the netbook space.

The inclusion of Ovi’s suite of features and secure mail functionality are the icing on a sweet corporate netbook cake.

With the ability to effortlessly sync to your mobile, Nokia could well have a hit on their hands with a sexy and durable portable device.

Further details, including price and release date, are to spring forth at Nokia World in Stuttgart this September.