What’s made by Research in Motion and is “shiny, new, and social all over?” No one can say for sure, but according to BlackBerry’s Facebook page, we’re going to find out tomorrow. Might it be the Torch 2 come calling, newly acquired FCC badges in tow? Perhaps Waterloo’s hinting at the Bold Touch, its phone of many flavors. Or, maybe it’s something yet unseen that will blind all who perceive it with a corona of social networking awesomeness. Whatever BlackBerry’s got in store for us, let’s hope it’s not just another phone with a Facebook button.
Is the devoted remote going the way of dodo? HiFi audio manufacturer Onkyo is certainly hedging its bets with the release of its first Android app, which gives users the ability to control a number of its home theater systems. The Remote App, due out in August, makes it possible to browse content and stream audio from Android smartphones to the TX-8050 and all Onkyo A/V network receivers released this year. This isn’t the company’s first flirtation with the open world of Android. Late last year, Onkyo beat the competition to the punch by announcing a couple of Android tablets.
Oh boy, we don’t envy the Verizon web admin who made this particular mis-click. If you go to VZW’s sales page for the Blackberry 9650 and click on the “Explore Features” video, you get an unexpected treat: a walkthrough not of the 9650, but of the unreleased Bold 9930. The specs are familiar, like the 1.2GHz processor, 2.8-inch touchscreen and Blackberry 7 OS. But at least we now have it from the horse’s mouth that the new Bold Touch is indeed coming to Verizon. We’ve stuck our own rip of the video after the break, as the original will likely disappear any second — much like that poor web admin.
AT&T confirms LG Thrill 4G||AT&T LG Thrill 4G Specs||AT&T LG Thrill 4G Price
Pricing for the LG Thrill 4G popped up on Radio Shack’s corporate systems a few days ago, at $80 with a two-year contract. AT&T just shared its official Thrill pricing, however, with the glasses-free 3D smartphone commanding a healthy $99 at the company’s retails stores when it ships “in the coming weeks.” That timeframe meshes nicely with the August 7th launch date that a pair of Radio Shack insiders shared with us last week, though until we receive confirmation otherwise, it’s within reason to expect that devices will begin to ship before or even after that date. Either way, it doesn’t look like you’ll need to hold out much longer for your Thrill, with only a few more days of tranquility to go before the excitement begins.
The HTC Status was the only device with Gingerbread on AT&T’s lineup for a small slice of time, but that’s quickly coming to an end. The carrier has confirmed that Android 2.3 will be pushed to its entire2011 postpaid lineup, beginning with an OTA rollout of the Motorola Atrix 4G today (though and theHTC Inspire 4G “in the coming weeks.” In addition to the phones released this year, Samsung Captivate users will be able to enjoy the upgrade as well. There’s no hard details on the timing for everyone else, but at least anyone with a 2011 model can breath a sigh of relief. Full press release can be found after the break.
No more. With its latest refresh, Apple has taken what was once a manilla-clad curiosity and turned it into a legitimate machine, not just a sultry looker. Good thing, too, because the death of the plastic-clad MacBook means the Air is now Apple’s entry-level portable. Weary traveler looking for a laptop that will lighten your load and, it must be said, your wallet too? This might just be it.
The 11-inch model is likewise emblazoned, but sadly has still not been granted an SD reader, something restricted to the bigger 13. On the left you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, the MagSafe power connector and… nothing else. All other ports have been deemed unnecessary by Apple’s designers and therefore relegated to myriad USB adapters for things like Ethernet — though if you start relying on those you’ll likely need to start packing a USB hub as well.
Like before, the omission of these ports leaves the Air free to pinch down to a delicious taper beneath the keyboard, thin enough to make for a decent cleaver when no proper blade can be found — or when you just can’t be bothered to find one. Even on the fat end it measures a mere .68-inches (17mm) thick. Or thin, rather.
The keyboard above, too, has a better feel. Keys are more springy than before, more solid and responsive than the somewhat loose, flappy ones on the last generation. But the biggest change here is what’s lurking beneath the keys: a backlight. Yes, you’ll now be able to do things like adjust volume, change track, and hit that damned ^ character in the dark. And, thanks to the ambient light sensor hidden in the bezel, you won’t have to worry about those keys blinding you in bed.
Internals / Display
On the memory front, 4GB of DDR3 memory is found on all but the base 11-inch model, which gets by with half that. SSDs are standard across the board, starting at 64GB for the 11 and going up to 256GB for the top-shelf 13-inch. Intel HD 3000 graphics power the lot and stock processors include 1.6GHz and 1.7GHz Core i5’s, though a 1.8GHz Core i7 is available for $100 more.
When it comes to displays nothing has changed: the 13-inch model features a 1440 x 900 glossy, LED-backlit panel while the 11 still does 1366 x 768. We spent our time testing the 13-incher and, as before, it continues to impress when it comes to contrast, brightness, and viewing angles, which are plenty wide enough to enable two-person, coach-class viewing of that latest episode of Top Gear. Contrast is helped by the glossy sheen here — and no, you still can’t option out a matte unit.
We still found its resolution to be more than adequate for most tasks but just a bit limiting for anyone working on photos or doing anything where pixels really count. Honestly, that wasn’t much of a concern before thanks to the lack of power, but now…
Performance / Battery life
When last we tested an Air, the 13-inch model with a 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo processor scored a 2,717 on the GeekBench benchmark. This new 13, configured with the default 1.7GHz Core i5 and paired with 4GB of DDR3 and a 128GB SSD, nearly doubled that: 5,373. No, that won’t threaten the full-bore 15-inchMacBook Pro for sheer speed, but double the performance in nine months is a welcome improvement, living up to Apple’s 2x promises here, and from what we’ve seen elsewhere the 11-inch lives up to its 2.5x promises as well.
|OS X Benchmarks||Geekbench||Xbench OpenGL
|MacBook Air (mid 2011) (1.7GHz Core i5-2557M, Intel HD Graphics 3000)||5373||unavailable||5:32|
|MacBook Pro (early 2011) (2.2GHz Core i7-2720QM, Radeon HD 6750M / Intel Graphics 3000)||9647||340.1 (Radeon) / 157.78 (Intel)||7:27|
|MacBook Pro (early 2010) (2.66GHz Core i7-620M, GeForce GT 330M)||5395||228.22||5:18|
|iMac (mid 2010) (3.06GHz Core i3-540, Radeon HD 4670)||5789||unavailable||n/a|
|iMac (late 2009) (2.8GHz Core i7-860, Radeon HD 4850)
|MacBook Air (late 2010) (1.83GHz Core 2 Duo, GeForce 320M)||2717||117.38||4:34|
We also threw Windows 7 on there, Boot Camp making it easy, and ran through a further suite of benchmarks to see how it fares there. PCMark Vantage clocked in at 9,484, actually higher than the 15-inch Pro’s 8,041 when we tested it, though the Air’s 3DMark 06 score was considerably lower thanks to the limited graphics prowess here, just 4,223. So, it’s still no gaming rig, but it is the sort of machine you wouldn’t think twice about trying to do some serious business on.
Now, as we all know benchmarks only tell a part of the story, but we’re happy to report that the numbers really do fall in line with our impressions here. This machine boots to a Lion login screen in a snappy 15 seconds, apps load quickly, batch photo jobs finish much more promptly, and overall in our time with this machine we did a lot less waiting and a lot more working. But, just like before, be prepared to listen to the thing’s internal cooling fan register its complaints whenever utilization rates start climbing.
|MacBook Air (mid 2011) (1.7GHz Core i5-2557M, Intel HD Graphics 3000, Under Windows 7)||9484||4223||4:12|
|MacBook Pro (early 2011) (2.2GHz Core i7-2720QM, Radeon HD 6750M, under Windows 7)||8041||10,262||unknown|
|HP Envy 14 (Core i5-450M, Radeon HD 5650)||6038||1928 / 6899||3:51|
|Toshiba Portege R705 (Core i3-350M)||5024||1739 / 3686||4:25|
|Sony VAIO Z (Core i5-450M, NVIDIA 330M)||9949||6,193||unknown|
|Samsung Series 9 (Core i5-2537M)||7582||2240||4:20|
|Dell XPS 14 (Core i5-460M, NVIDIA 420M)||5796||1955 / 6827||2:58|
|Notes: For 3DMark06, the first number reflects score with the discrete GPU off (if possible), the second with it on.
Despite that, we had no issues with battery life. On our standard rundown test, where we’ll loop a video until the machine calls it quits, the new Air clocked in at just over five and a half hours. That’s well more than the Lenovo X1 recently managed on the same test and actually about an hour more than last year’s model managed when we dusted it off and ran it through the same wringer. Even running Windows the Air managed 4:12 on the same rundown test, on par with the Samsung Series 9.
In standard usage, surfing and typing and Facebooking and such, you should be able to do much better. The Air routinely beat our expectations — and its own estimates — for battery life. The seven hours Apple advertises for the 13 (five for the 11) is well within reach if you’re not doing anything too taxing. And of course that’s a good thing, because you won’t be replacing the battery here without a screwdriver.