Samsung and Google create the ultimate mobile companion for cloud enthusiasts

In the world of technology, we invent and or create some things, and that becomes the end of the story. We sometimes invent and create, but some consumers just do not like the results. There is a breed of innovations, however, that sell out even before they are actually unveiled to the public. Since their introduction into the market, the ChromeBooks have taken to the side as a not widely accepted innovation but in the eyes of many, the new Samsung Chromebook 2012 is the ultimate game changer.

Unlike its Intel Celeron powered predecessors, the dual-core ARM driven Chromebook comes with an 11.6-inch display and 6.5-hour battery life compressed in an impressively compact design, all at only $249.

By trashing Intel Celeron processors in favor of the ARM, Samsung designers packed the new Chromebook with higher power while reducing production cost, power consumption and heat dissipation. Actually, the Chromebook goes to record as the first ever retail device to use the Cortex-A15 technology.

This silver-colored 2.4 pound ChromeBook has a better touchpad with the ability to interpret two-finger scrolling input using the accompanying buttons that are somewhat loud when clicked. Though good for the design, the fact that they decided to put all the ports at the back of the ChromeBook, apart from the headphone jack, can be a real pain for users who are constantly plugging things into their computer.

Since the ChromeBook is specifically built for online use through the Google Chrome browser, its matte display makes sense since the essence of a mobile device is to cancel out the possibility of squinting past your reflection to read what is on the screen. However, the reduced brightness of 200 units compared to the predecessor’s 300, means that you will have to get the right angle before settling back to use the Chromebook.

Generally, by opting for the new Chromebook, you pay $201 less and get a lighter and thinner laptop, which is actually more portable. However, you will have to kiss ethernet and the now optional 3G radio goodbye in favor of the in-built Bluetooth.

The new Chromebook is a great deal for people who live on the cloud. It has a practical keyboard and its browsing experience is awesome. What else would you possibly need to navigate the cloud?

Samsung loses to Apple in patent infringement case; what’s next?

The lawsuit between Apple and Samsung is over, and the jury gave a decisive verdict in Apple’s favor: Samsung owes $1.05 billion to Apple for copying its intellectual property. This included Apple’s user interface software patents on iOS, Apple’s design patents and their trade dress on the iPhone brands. The jury found that several of Samsung’s phones had infringed on these patents.

What’s interesting is that Samsung’s infringements were ruled as deliberate and hence the huge punishment against the company. Apple’s arguments were quite valid to say the least. The iPhone was a revolution, five years in the making, according to Apple, and Samsung simply took it and copied it without bearing the costs and risks involved. The jury was simply not convinced of Samsung’s attempted demonstration of prior art.

So what happens next? For one thing, we can except Apple to seek injunctions against the sale of the Galaxy SII, which is one of the accused devices that is still on the market. We can also expect Samsung to make an appeal of the jury’s decision.

The dominoes will also likely start falling on the user interface behaviors across Android devices. The bounceback scrolling behavior that has been patented by Apple is one good example. Other behaviors included tap-to-zoom and multitouch scrolling that will have to change on new devices. Apple’s design patent and trade dress has likely shaken the industry and proven that these patents are strong enough to convince a jury.

Expect more litigation between Apple and Android phone makers like HTC and Motorola. Apple will also likely take another swing against Samsung and we can expect to see more devasting results in the courtroom. Most companies will likely not want to risk the huge amounts of money that Samsung has spent in the case. These companies are better off taking Google’s advice: let partners settle the cases and avoid keeping lawsuits open and running.

Read up on warnings and risks before updating your Android OS

With Android devices, it is very easy to fall two or three releases behind if you depend on your carrier to release new software. For me personally, I decided to update to the Honeycomb release on my Samsung Galaxy tablet in order to get the front-facing camera to work with Skype. It turned out to be a big mistake on my part and I am here to tell fellow Techerator readers how not to make the same mistake I did.

I performed a couple of quick Google searches about Honeycomb on my specific tablet model. I then came across a great website called XDA Developers, which is a great site for users who want to root their phones and install custom ROMs, and it’s also great for finding out about any risks and warnings when updating the OS on your mobile devices (which I failed to do).

I ended up following a bunch of leads and downloaded a flash-loading program to update to Honeycomb. I followed all of the instructions on the screen, and before I knew it, my tablet went from this:

Samsung Galaxy Tablet

To this:

7-inch Brick (Mantoles creation)

Yes, that’s a 7-inch brick. I don’t consider myself a magician, but I somehow managed to magically transform my Samsung tablet into a really heavy paperweight.

It turns out, I was being negligent and didn’t read the rest of the thread on XDA. Sure enough, there were tons of warnings about using the method that I used and also a couple of errors in the sequence of executing the steps.

So, my lesson to you is, read through the entire thread all the way to the end and read up on all the warnings about bricking your tablet. If you don’t educate and remind yourself of the risks involved with changing around the software, bad things are likely to happen.

Nokia Loses Mobile Phone Crown To Samsung After 14 Years On Top

Nokia has finally succumbed to pressure from the leading smartphone handset manufacturers and lost its crown as the leading cellphone vendor in the world. Samsung has taken its place at the top, while Apple remains in third place. Focusing in on just smartphone sales reveals Apple is still number one, with Samsung a very close second, and Nokia a long way behind in third.

This sets up a couple of interesting questions that will be answered over the coming years and beyond: Who will win in the titanic battle between Apple and Samsung for smartphone sales? Will Nokia be able to recover from this position, with Microsoft as its partner and Windows Phone as its operating system of choice?

Nokia Knocked Off Perch

For as long as I have owned a mobile phone Nokia has been the number one seller of the form factor. It has held the number one spot as mobile phone vendor since 1998, and in that time managed to see off plenty of competitors. Unfortunately that reign at the top of the pile has now come to a crashing end, with the news that Samsung has succeeded it as king.

According to data from IHS, Nokia’s handset shipments dropped from 114 million in Q4 2011 to 83 million in Q1 2012. That’s a drop of 27 percent. To be fair both Samsung and Apple also took a hit, with drops of 13 percent and 5 percent respectively. But that leaves them on 92 million and 35 million, meaning Samsung has hurdled Nokia to take the number one spot.

Apple Vs. Samsung

The smartphone sales figures are also interesting. Again, all three have taken a hit, with Apple dropping from 37 million to 35 million, Samsung from 35 million to 32 million, and Nokia from 20 million to 12 million. Apple has actually increased its lead over Samsung during the last quarter.

However, that doesn’t mean the titanic battle is over. Far from it, in fact. Samsung is expected to unveil its latest smartphone (almost certainly the Galaxy S III) at an event in London on May 3. Apple will then launch the iPhone 5 by October, although there is increasing speculation that it could arrive much sooner, possibly during WWDC in June.

Either way the scene is set for a huge fight between the two leading vendors of smartphones. The Galaxy S III is garnering almost-iPhone levels of anticipation and speculation, and I suspect many Android users will be looking to upgrade to it at the earliest opportunity.

Any Chance Of A Comeback?

This leaves Nokia in an awkward position. It has finally made the move to smartphones, partnering with Microsoft to offer Windows Phone on all its handsets, but reception to both the handsets and the OS that powers them have been mixed. To say the least. If Nokia wants to gain ground back on Samsung then it needs not only to produce compelling hardware but also for Microsoft to keep plugging away with Windows Phone. Perhaps Windows Phone 8 will be the turning point.

Image Credits: John Karakatsanis, Cheon Fong Liew, Maurits Knook

Samsung Galaxy Note – Phone, Tablet, or Worthless Piece of Junk?

Mobile phones started out resembling bricks. They were monsters, with the internal components necessary to make them work taking up so much space as to make early examples look ludicrous in hindsight. And then they shrank until the smaller they became, the better they were supposed to be.

But that trend has now reversed, as we’re all doing much more than just phoning and texting on our mobile devices. Some of us are living our lives through these things, and that trend is only going to increase as smartphones are effectively able to do everything we would ever want them to do.

With that in mind it’s time to welcome the Samsung Galaxy Note onto the stage.

Samsung Galaxy Note

The Samsung Galaxy Note is a smartphone/tablet based on the Android operating system. It’s powered by a 1.4Ghz, dual-core processor, boasts 1Gb of RAM, has up to 32Gb of memory, and two cameras; 8MP at the rear, 2MP at the front. And it looks fantastic.

The one problem is the 5.3-inch screen size, which means even the product itself is confused as to whether it’s a phone or a tablet. Perhaps it’s just a worthless piece of junk instead.

As A Phone…

The Samsung Galaxy Note works as a phone, barely. It has all the necessary internal gubbins, naturally, but whether you’d actually feel comfortable holding it up to your ear to take or make a phone call I’m not so sure. I’d advise Galaxy Note owner to get used to wearing a Bluetooth headset very quickly.

The sheer size of this thing makes it look unlike any phone you have ever seen in your life. The screen size is huge compared to anything that has gone before. Bear in mind that the iPhone has a 3.5-inch screen and the Galaxy S2 a 4.3-inch screen. These are both dwarfed by the Galaxy Note. With the screen measured diagonally the difference is wider than you’ll ever imagine.

As A Tablet…

The Samsung Galaxy Note works as a tablet, barely. It has been created as a kind of hybrid phone/tablet, or phablet. It comes with its own special stylus, which actually goes against the grain of using nothing but your fingers to type, dial, and write on your mobile device of choice.

Is 5.3 inches a big enough screen size for a tablet? I’m not convinced. Remember that the iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, and even cheap Android slates such as the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet boast 7-inch screens. You’ll struggle to use the Galaxy Note as a tablet, and it certainly won’t be a comfortable proposition.

Conclusions

Personally speaking I’d rather own a smartphone with a decent-sized screen which handles phone calls really well and everything else adequately. Plus a 7-inch to 10-inch tablet which handles everything else apart from phone calls really well. And I suspect I’m far from alone on this.

The Samsung Galaxy Note isn’t a bad product at all. In fact its specs are pretty damn awesome; certainly for a smartphone, and even for a budget tablet. The problem is it’s trying to be two things at once, and struggling to be either.

It cannot therefore be branded a phone, a tablet, or a worthless piece of junk. It’s none of the above and yet all three at the same time. So I guess it wins the battle in terms of multi-tasking at the very least, just not in the way Samsung must have envisioned.

Image Credits: Retinafunk, Stuart Fleming

Galaxy Nexus: How to prevent newly-installed apps from creating shortcuts on your home screen

If you’re like me and have recently switched from an Android phone running Froyo (Android 2.2) or Gingerbread (Android 2.3) to the brand-new Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, you may have been surprised to find that apps installed from the Android Market automatically have shortcuts placed on the home screen. I’m sure this feature is convenient for most people, but I prefer to include only essential apps on my home screen and relegate the rest to my app drawer.

Thinking the automatic shortcut placement was controlled by the Galaxy Nexus/Ice Cream Sandwich home screen, I searched in vain to find a way to disable the feature. As it turns out, it’s actually a setting in the Android Market and is quite easy to disable.

How to disable automatic home screen app shortcuts

Step 1. Open the Android Market.

Step 2. Press the new Menu button in the top right. (Yes, it’s three vertical dots and is no longer included in the standard Android buttons bar – I’ll be covering topic in the near future I’m sure.) Select Settings.

Screenshot_2011-12-16-14-58-04[1]

Step 3. Uncheck Auto-add shortcuts.

Screenshot_2011-12-16-14-58-19[1]

That’s it! Your home screen will now be untouched by new applications.

Have any tips about Ice Cream Sandwich or Galaxy Nexus? Share it with us in the comments below.

How To Fix the Google Nexus S ‘Search Button Auto-Fire’ Bug

I’ve had my Nexus S for a little over two months now, and my general opinion is that while it is very pretty, some of the software issues (Android 2.3.4) make it almost impossible to use without some considerable donations to the swear jar. Perhaps the most gut-wrenchingly annoying problem is the well-documented ‘Search Button Auto-Fire’ bug.

Jerry enjoying his Nexus S

At seemingly random moments, the Search capacitance button will begin to auto-fire and continue to do so until you’ve chucked your phone through a window. Putting the phone in standby temporarily fixes the issue, until the phone decides to do it again. Window sales are probably at an all-time high in my hometown.

So, how do we fix this issue and regain control of our unruly Nexus S? Simply stated, Android 2.3.6.

Enough complaints flooded into Google that they implemented some fixes to the Android OS a mere FIVE MONTHS after the first reports came rolling in. For some, the over-the-air update is already implemented. Poor sap AT&T customers like me, however, continue to wait.

Screw that. Here’s how you can manually update from Android 2.3.4 to 2.3.6 and get rid of that stupid bug once and for all.

Step 1: Download Android 2.3.6

Download the Android Gingerbread (2.3.6) update (~18 MB) onto your computer. Connect your Nexus S by USB and transfer this update ZIP file to the root of your phone’s file system. If the update is put into a folder, the installation process will fail. Take note of the file name and power off you Nexus.

Step 2: Boot your phone in Recovery Mode

To get your phone into boot/rescue mode, hold the Power and Volume Up buttons at the same time until the bootloader screen is displayed. Using the Volume control, cursor down to Rescue Mode and select with the Standby button.

Step 3: Installation

Once you’ve gotten to Recovery mode, use the Volume control again to cursor down to apply sdcard name-of-update.zip and select with the Standby button. Your update should now begin installing, and once complete, you can reboot to apply the change.

Some users have reported ongoing problems with this bug even after updating. This did the trick for me, and hopefully it will work for you. The Google help forums are full of tips from other users, but don’t expect much help from Google directly, as they are famously bad at customer support.

The Nexus S is a great phone, and with this fix, there shouldn’t be any serious bugs standing in your way. Enjoy!

Is This Ice Cream Sandwich on the New Nexus?

With the mystery of the iPhone 5 solved, the attention of the internet geekdom has turned to the next, newest thing: Android. Specifically its newest operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), and Google’s next flagship device, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (also known as Nexus Prime, or whatever). And we’ve uncovered the motherload.

A Romanian website (it was Samsung Romania that announced the name “Nexus Prime” back in June) has what looks to be the next Nexus device running an early version of Ice Cream Sandwich. Of course, there is no way of knowing whether this is the real thing or a clever fake, but that makes it all the more fun to discuss in the comments.

If it is real though, it looks like we can expect a change to the cut-and-dry Android form factor. The search button is missing from the bottom row of soft-touch buttons, seemingly replaced by a constant search bar at the top of the screen, which seems like more of a problem. Won’t a new button configuration make updating older devices even harder?

The screen looks larger than that of the Nexus S, not surprising when you consider how the Galaxy line up just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Also, as expected, the OS is taking a lot of design aspects from Honeycomb (the tablet version of Android), rather than sticking close to Gingerbread. This, in my humble opinion, is a relief. Gingerbread isn’t the prettiest of interfaces.

Unfortunately, the truth about this mess may be further away than we originally thought. Samsung has just announced that they no longer plan to unveil the phone with Google at next week’s CTIA:

Samsung and Google decide to postpone the new product announcement at CTIA Fall. We agree that it is just not the right time to announce a new product. New date and venue will be shortly announced.

It’s anybody’s guess why the two companies decided to postpone the reveal, but it could literally be anything. Last minute kinks to work out, patent lawsuits, fear of being buried under the iPhone hype, or perhaps even to respect Steve Jobs’ passing.

Whatever the reason, Eric Schmidt has promised that we will all see Ice Cream Sandwich by the end of November. So just nine, long, excruciating weeks to go then.

But what do you think? Is this about what you expected? Or did you want something bigger and better?

Samsung Galaxy S II Phones Finally Land On U.S. Soil

Back in May, South Korea and the United Kingdom were the first territories to get their hands on Samsung’s Galaxy S II smartphone, which was announced in February. More countries were slowly being added to the list, with Canada being the first North American country to receive the phone in late July. Finally, we Americans can now join in on the hoopla.

Samsung will be releasing the Galaxy S II for AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, but mysteriously not for Verizon. All three models will sport a Super AMOLED Plus display with Sprint’s model (called the Epic 4G Touch) getting the larger screen size of the three at 4.52 inches. AT&T and T-Mobile will carry the smaller, but still huge 4.3-inch variant. Sprint’s version will also be packing a slightly larger, 1800 mAh battery compared to the thinner, 1650 mAh battery that AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s model will carry. And you bet that AT&T’s taking advantage of that fact by giving it the title of “thinnest 4G smartphone.”

Other than that, the three Galaxy S II models are no different from each other. They all sport a 1.2 GHz Exynos dual-core processor with 1 GB of RAM, as well as 16 GB of internal storage and an 8 MP camera on the back (2 MP on front).

Sprint is the only one so far that has announced pricing and availability — September 16th for $199. AT&T and T-Mobile says they’ll release their Galaxy S IIs “soon.”

If your curious mind is aching for a better look at these three phones, look no further than right here on the Internet, which has gladly provided us with plenty of hands-on photos and videos.

Also, if you’ve been in the market for a brand-new Android smartphone or if you’re wanting to get a great deal on an older phone, now is the time to get serious.