Our reviews team was very busy with a bunch of new mobile products in the last day. Here's some of what our reviews team published in the last 24 hours:
- The big screen of handhelds? Creative's Zen Vision W (video review here): It almost looks more like an OQO (that cool little mobile Windows computer) than it does the old Zen Vision portable MP3 and video player. It's interesting to see how many of these mobile entertainment "systems" are slowly moving to larger screens, perhaps looking to broaden the audience to include people who don't want to squint at a little tiny display like what came on the original video iPods. The Vision W has a 4.3 inch 640x480 TFT display putting it in the same "near DVD quality" resolution category of the new video iPods announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs earlier this week. But is anybody really counting pixels on a screen of this size when watching a video? With it's TV-out connections, FM radio, and a Compact Flash slot for memory expansion, both the 30 and 60GB versions ($299/$399) are flexible little guys. The downside with these as well as most other portable video devices however is the DRM-induced lack of interoperability with all content and other devices. For example, if you've been using an iPod Video up until now and this really floats your boat, you'll have to toss out the library of videos you've accumulated and start from scratch. The Vision W should be compatible with content from PlaysForSure-compliant sources of content (Yahoo's Music Store, Napster-to-Go, Amazon's new Unbox service, etc.). However, the future of the PlaysForSure ecosystem was officially called into question when....
- Microsoft made Zune official today. Speaking of big displays, Microsoft's first attempt at ripping a page out of Apple's operations manual to dethrone Apple itself will have a 3 inch screen (more in the neighborhood of the Vision W's predecessor but fairly sizeable none-the less). CNET has a slide show with different views of the Zune and ZDNet mobile gadgeteer blogger Matthew Miller has his own opinion of it. In Redmond where a lot of people worry about the momentum of Apple's iPods and iTunes Music Store, "Zune" is code for "OK Apple. This means war."
- Sprint's Revision A on the way (whatever that means): Bonnie Cha points out that Sprint is following Verizon Wireless' lead in rolling out something called EVDO Revision A and the devices to match. Until this Revision A stuff came to light, Sprint and Verizon have been winning the speed war (over T-Moible and Cingular) with their EVDO "wireless broadband" networks -- networks that offer surprising speed when transferring data (like a Web page) from from the Internet to a handheld device like a smartphone. The Motorola Q I'm testing works with Verizon Wireless' EVDO network and the speed isn't two shabby. However, rendering most Web pages on a 2.5 inch screen eaves much to be desired. Officially referred to as CDMA2000 1xEVDO (that's a mouthful), EVDO is apparently due for an update (although, typical of a telco press release, you'd have no clue what Revision A means if you read Sprint's verbiage on the upgrade). For an explanation that puts in layman's terms, I found this blog by Rich Tehrani. Conclusion? It's faster than plain old vanilla EVDO. Can't people remind of this when they write about it. And, they (the proverbial they) really do need to come up with new names for this stuff. Now, the official name is "CDMA200 1xEVDO Revision A." Take a deep breath before saying it.
- Keep-ocera simple stupid: From CTIA, Kent German has the scoop on two phones from Kyocera (the K122 and the K132) that are, surprise, just phones. In other words, they conform to the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid). Given the way my Motorola Q is handling complexity and watching my wife never have a problem with her phone phone (as opposed to a smart phone), it's probably a good thing that companies still sell devices that are just phones and nothing else. I'm almost ready to go back to the future. Almost.
- Slim is in: Nicole Lee has the skinny on six low-profile phones. Three of them are Motorola Slvrs. Two are Samsung SGHs and one is a Samsung SPH. Samsung scores a knockout punch, taking the top 3 spots in the comparative review. But I'm giving Moto a consolation prize for having a better name (for a slim phone that is).