Mar 11

HandBrake 0.9.6If you want to transcode video for a smartphone or tablet, there are few better tools – paid or free – than Handbrake. This open source application, which runs on both Mac OS and Windows, makes converting video for mobile device viewing as easy as a few mouse clicks.  The main downside is that it is so infrequently updated (it’s been more than  year since the last version was released).

But the folks behind Handbrake have finally updated the application, which is now at version 0.9.6.  There are a slew of changes and improvements, but the primary benefit we’ve seen is that the new version transcodes videos considerably faster than before.  There are now two Android presets: Android Mid (phones) and Android High (tablets).  iPhone and iPad presets remain, of course, along with an improved “Normal” preset which churns out excellent general use MP4 video files.  On the downside, HandBrake 0.9.6 breaks VLC-powered DVD ripping since VLC 2.0 no longer supports this. Also gone is the file size option which users could employ to generate video files that were a specific size.

On Windows, make sure you download the bit version that matches your OS installation (32-bit or 64-bit); Windows XP, Vista and 7 are supported.  On the Mac side, HandBrake now requires Mac OS 10.6 or above and is only available in 64-bit.  

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Sep 28

Kindle Fire Android Tablet (thisismynext.com)After a year of speculation, today Amazon took the wraps off its first tablet device, the Kindle Fire.  The Kindle Fire is a skinned Android tablet with a dual-core processor, a 7-inch IPS touchscreen, Wi-Fi, and software geared for Amazon-powered content consumption.

Of course, the Kindle Fire will have an eBook reader app, much like tablet versions of the software already available, but there will also be support for watching streaming video, and purchasing and listening to music.  And, of course, there’s a web browser. 

Unlike many Android tablets on the market, the Kindle Fire isn’t trying to be all things to all users; it’s a content consumption device first and foremost.

You can add additional software to the Kindle Fire via the Amazon Appstore.

The Kindle Fire will sell for $199 and will include a one month trial of Amazon Prime(Review), the $79 yearly membership that allows $3.99 per item overnight shipping of Amazon-stocked products as well as streaming movies and TV shows from the Amazon Instant Video library.

A new touch-enabled version of the eInk Kindle, called the Kindle Touch, was also announced.

Sources: Bloomberg, thisismynext.com
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Jun 23

Android Device Utilities & Software Tools for Windows & Mac OS

When we think of Android software, we most often picture those applications that run on the devices themselves; but there are also useful titles that run on PCs and Macs which help you get more out of an Android phone or tablet.

We’ve put together a list of our favorite applications of this type – including syncing tools, video encoders, and media management software – to help you find your way.  And we’ll continue to add to the list over time.  Have a suggestion we missed?  Let us know in the comments section.

Read: Android Device Utilities & Software Tools for Windows & Mac OS

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Apr 28

Google Talk with VideoBut don’t get too excited just yet; the new Google Talk will be included in an upcoming over-the-air Android 2.3.4 OS update for the Nexus S, and won’t be an individual download for some time (if ever).  Android users who don’t have a Nexus S will presumably have to wait either until their device is updated to Android 2.3.4 (and most are still stuck with 2.2.1, to say nothing of 2.3) or until Google decides to make this Google Talk app available via the Marketplace as a standalone download.

Features include video chatting over Wi-Fi or 3G/4G (if your carrier allows it) as well as the ability to chat with anyone using Gmail or a video-capable version of Google Talk, irrespective of device.

Find out more at the Google Mobile Blog.

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Nov 13

Netflix on Android

As we told you last month, Netflix has been hiring developers for Android in an effort to bring their streaming video service to Google’s mobile platform. At the time we speculated that a Netflix app would hit the Android Marketplace in early 2011.

And, we were right… sort of.

Yesterday, Netflix confirmed that early 2011 is, indeed, their target Android release timeframe. But the company also regretfully reported that the release won’t be pretty.

VP of Product Development Greg Peters posted on the Netflix Blog that they’ll have a streaming app for “select Android devices … early next year.”  Why not all Android devices, you ask?  Shockingly, it’s because of the most unlikely of culprits… DRM.

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