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Oct 16

A Netflix app for Android?

A question we often receive from Android users is whether or not there’s an Android OS Netflix app that would allow them to use the Watch Instantly video streaming service on their phone. Unfortunately, the current answer is no.

But no won’t be the answer forever.

Netflix released an iPad app that supported Watch Instantly the day the tablet launched; and an iPhone / iPod touch version followed a few months later. So there’s no question that Netflix is interested in the tablet and smartphone game in a big way; it’s only a matter of time for Android users to get theirs.

Also, in August Ars Technica noticed that Netflix had posted a job listing for an Android Video Playback Expert.  It’s a long journey from hiring development staff to releasing a product, but we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to be watching Dexter on a Droid come early 2011.

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Oct 12

Windows Phone 7 and microSD Memory Cards I was very interested to read Paul Thurrott’s post today regarding Windows Phone 7 and flash memory cards.  I wanted to share the highlights with you as this will likely be of great interest to those looking forward to grabbing one of the first Windows Phones released next month.

In the post, Mr. Thurrott confirms that Windows Phone 7 will – despite some previous indications to the contrary – support memory cards microSD and microSDHC). But that support is somewhat unusual in its implementation. Rather than being adjunct storage – i.e. something you can use,remove and/or upgrade on a whim like an external hard drive on a PC or an Android phone’s memory card – Windows Phone 7 will add the space on a microSD card to primary device storage.  Put another way, the OS will see the additional storage no differently than the internal storage, so files will be stored in internal memory and/or card memory as needed.  Removing the card, therefore, would result in missing files, likely causing system malfunctions (missing apps, app data, music, etc.).  To remove or replace the card, you’ll have to perform a hard reset, restoring the device to factory specs.

To make things even more interesting, the microSD cards – according to the post – won’t even be readable on a PC if you were to remove it and try to access the information stored there via a card reader.  This suggests either encryption or a non-standard file system.

I can’t imagine why such a setup would be desirable, but Mr. Thurrott says details will be forthcoming.  I can imagine that this will cause problems, particularly when users want to expand storage after a few months’ use and are met with system errors only a hard reset can correct.  Perhaps there’ll be some backup and restore solution via the Zune PC software which would allow for painless memory card upgrades?

Apparently, Microsoft has also mandated that hardware manufacturers that do opt for memory card slots must position them under the battery, presumably to curb the notion of the cards being hot-swapable.

M. Nichols, Products Editor

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Oct 12

Windows Phone 7 devices are powered by the Qualcomm QSD8650 and QSD8250 CPUs

There have been rumors for months that Windows Phone 7 would up the power ante, debuting on devices with late-generation mobile processors running at speeds up to 1.5GHz.  But we now know this will not be the case, at least not with the first wave of Windows Phone 7 handsets.

Each of the nine Windows Phones officially confirmed by Microsoft yesterday is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC CPU running at 1GHz.  It is unclear whether the QSD8250 and QSD8650 processors used are Gen 1 (65nm)  or Gen 2 (45nm), but either way they’re well within the mainstream of what’s been in use since at least 2009.

From most reports, the existing 1GHz Snapdragon processors are producing more than satisfactory results with the new Windows Phone OS, and we look forward to putting the phones through their paces.  But it would have been nice to see some of the new, bleeding edge mobile processors in at least a few of the first crop of WP7 smartphones.

Oh well – there’s always 2011.

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Oct 11

In the coming weeks, five Windows Phone 7 smartphones will be available for purchase, all from T-Mobile and AT&T; CDMA versions of Windows Phone 7 handsets for Verizon and Sprint will launch next year.

Windows Phone 7 Launch Handsets

Starting from the left, there’s the Samsung Focus, a 4-inch AMOLED Windows Phone 7 smartphone headed for AT&T on November 8th.  Next, there’s the Dell Venue Pro (aka Lightning), which features a vertical sliding QWERTY keyboard and a 4.1-inch AMOLED touchscreen; the Venue Pro will work on T-Mobile, but sold by Dell.  In the middle, the LG Quantum, the smallest phone of the group.  The Quantum will be sold by AT&T in late November or December and has a 3.5-inch touchscreen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.  Second to the right is the HTC Surround T8788, also from AT&T, which features a slide-out surround sound Yamaha speaker behind its 3.8-inch display.  Last, but not least, the T-Mobile HTC HD7, an update to the HD2 with a large 4.3-inch Super LCD display, will be available in mid-November.

All of the Windows Phone 7 launch devices above have 1GHz mobile processors, 5MP autofocus cameras, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, and GPS.

There are more phones running Windows Phone 7 on the way; these are merely the first round.  We’ll keep posting as more device information is made available.

Updated October 12, 2010, with some smartphone release dates/times.

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Oct 11

Dell Venue Pro Windows Phone 7 Smartphone

We’ve been following the Dell Lightning Windows Phone for months; but today the Lightning is no more.

The Windows Phone 7 device from Dell, code-named Lightning, will be sold as the Dell Venue Pro.  We’re not sure who’s doing the naming at Dell these days, but they might want to go back to their previous work naming television models.

Not much is changed other than the name.  Many details are still missing.  But we do know that the 4.1-inch QWERTY slider will be available with T-Mobile first, with AT&T nowhere in sight (at least in the immediate future).  The Venue Pro also won’t be sold, according to Engadget, in T-Mobile stores; you’ll have to order it from Dell or one if its “handpicked retailers.”

Learn more about the Dell Venue Pro Windows Phone 7…

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