Technologizer posts about Samsung

Samsung’s Super Bowl commercial for the Galaxy Note, directed by a Farrelly brother, is like a fancier, less entertaining parody of its earlier Apple fan-bashing spots:

While the first ads featured the Galaxy S II phone, a direct competitor of the iPhone 4S, this one is for the Galaxy Note. With its huge screen and pen, it’s both an anti-iPhone and one of the most distinctive phones on the market. So the gag feels a little muffled, and the Note doesn’t get enough explanation.

I’m still curious how the Galaxy Note will do–it strikes me as neat, but a niche. But the fact that Samsung plowed money into a Super Bowl spot presumably means that it thinks the phone can be a mainstream hit.

Posted by Harry at 7:37 am

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How One Little Android Update Caused a Big Headache

By  |  Posted at 10:00 am on Saturday, January 28, 2012


My Samsung Galaxy S II had been great to me. It’s a thin, light phone with a gorgeous Super AMOLED Plus display and a dual-core processor that handles Android with ease. When people asked me if I’d ever return to an iPhone–my previous handset was an iPhone 3GS–my answer was a cheery “nope!”

That was until last week, when AT&T delivered an Android 2.3.6 update to the Galaxy S II that destroyed its battery life. Before the update, the phone could easily last through a day of moderate use. After the update, the phone would lose about 8 percent of its battery per hour in standby. Even if I rarely touched the phone during the day, it was dead by bedtime.

I’m telling this story not just to rant–although I’m grateful for that opportunity–but to point out a risk that Android users face: An update that’s supposed to deliver nothing but good things could carry unforeseen consequences. Another example of this popped up this week, with users of Asus’ Transformer Prime reporting lock-ups and graphical glitches after updating to Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

I wasn’t alone in my battery drain problem. Similar complaints have appeared in forums on AT&T’s website, XDA-Developers forums and Android Central (where some T-Mobile users are reporting the same issue), but other users said they weren’t having any issues. This is both the best and worst kind of Android bug, because it’s less likely to merit immediate attention from the phone maker and wireless carriers when it doesn’t affect everyone.

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Samsung Stretches the Definition of Ultrabook

By  |  Posted at 2:34 pm on Monday, January 9, 2012

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When Intel started talking about the concept of Ultrabooks last year, I thought the definition was pretty simple: Ultrabooks were MacBook Air knockoffs that had Intel processors and ran Windows 7.

It turned out to be more complicated than that. Ultrabooks do use Intel CPUs–they’re Intel’s idea, after all–and they do run Windows. But not all of them bear much resemblance at all to the Air. Really, as long as PC makers design Ultrabooks to be fairly thin, they have lots of latitude to build different sorts of portable computers at different price points.

Case in point: Samsung’s Series 5 Ultra systems, the company’s first official Ultrabooks, which it’s announcing here at CES. There’s a Series 5 Ultra with a 14″ display. (Most Ultrabooks to date have been 13-inchers.) There are ones with 500GB hard disks. (Most Ultrabooks use pricey flash storage and max out at 256GB.) There’s even an optical drive option. (I’d assumed that every Ultrabook would ditch the drive in order to achieve the maximum possible razor-thinness.) And while there’s certainly a dash of Air-like look-and-feel to the industrial design, they’re not clones.

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Geez, Samsung says that it won’t update its Galaxy S smartphones–like my Verizon Fascinate–to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich:

The company’s argument is that they lack sufficient RAM and ROM to run the new OS alongside TouchWiz and other “experience-enhancing” software. This will come as a massive blow to the great many users of the Galaxy S, who would have rightly expected the 1GHz Hummingbird processor and accompanying memory to be able to handle ICS — it’s the same hardware as you’ll find inside the Nexus S, and that phone is receiving Android 4.0 over the air right now.

I’d gladly give up TouchWiz for Ice Cream Sandwich. In a heartbeat. Would you?

Posted by Harry at 9:14 pm


Back in 2008 and 2009, I spent a lot of time defending netbooks. (At the time, PC makers were selling them by the boatload–but also kept saying they were lousy products which would surely go away soon.) Netbooks are still with us, and still have their place. But it looks like one big manufacturer–Samsung–might be giving up on them, at least if you define netbooks as laptops that have low-end processors and screens that are no bigger than 11″ or thereabouts.

Posted by Harry at 11:43 am


Samsung Taunts Apple

By  |  Posted at 10:02 am on Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Behold Samsung’s new commercial for the Galaxy S II:  
It’s a pretty clever ad–certainly more so than most that make fun of Apple, and even if its claims about 4G are questionable–and if it ticks off iPhone owners, that’s apparently OK. In an interview with Steve Kovach of the Business Insider, Samsung marketing honcho Brian Wallace says that the company isn’t actually trying to convince iPhone owners to switch to Galaxy phones. It’s addressing users of other Android handsets, and using Apple fans as a target of satire.  
Side note: All ads that mock Apple do so based on the notion that the company’s customers are style-obsessed young people. I’ve come to think of this as the Unicorn Tears theory. And I don’t think it bears much resemblance to the reality of Apple’s user base.  
I’ve stood in lines to buy new Apple products. I’ve waited at the Apple Store to talk to a Genius. I’ve done a lot of observing of Apple customers, and while it’s possible that the company’s customers include more style-obsessed young people than average, I don’t think such folks dominate. Mostly, the Apple customers I’ve seen look like America. They’re young, old, hip, square, smart, clueless, pretty, ugly, admirable, alarming, and–like people in general–what former New York City Mayor David Dinkins used to call a gorgeous tapestry…

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Samsung’s Boneheaded PR Mistake

By  |  Posted at 2:32 pm on Tuesday, October 18, 2011


File this one under “So Stupid You Can’t Believe It’s True.” With all the legal hubbub between Apple and Samsung at the moment, you would think both companies would be walking on eggshells. But one of them apparently isn’t paying attention. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber was tipped on Monday that promotional materials for the upcoming Galaxy Player include a very interesting screenshot.

Nestled within the list of features is a section on the Galaxy Player’s Google capabilities. The screenshot is not of the Android OS Google app, though: instead, it is a shot of the Maps app in iOS. Yes, really.

Some enterprising investigative reporting has tracked down the image to female-centric technology blog BlogHer, in a 2008 post about “game changing” iOS apps. How the PR department didn’t notice this when lifting the image is beyond me. Doesn’t Google Image Search tell you where it comes from?

The errant screenshot sat on Samsung’s own website for an unknown amount of time here, but has since been removed. See the image after the jump, you have to see this to believe it!

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Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

By  |  Posted at 9:58 pm on Saturday, September 3, 2011


On Friday morning here in Berlin, I headed to the IFA electronics show. My first stop was Samsung’ ginormous exhibition, where one of the biggest sections was devoted to the upcoming Galaxy Tab 7.7. I played with one, admired the amazingly vivid Super AMOLED Plus screen, and snapped the photo above. Then I left.

Turns out that I was lucky. Samsung later removed all the Tab 7.7s from the show, presumably for reasons relating to Apple’s ongoing patent case over the Galaxy Tab. Here’s FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller with some details. (In Germany, Apple has an injunction against Samsung that prevents it from selling the Tab 10.1 here.)

Samsung apparently doesn’t plan to sell the 7.7 in the U.S., a move that Mueller speculates could be spurred by the Galaxy Tab line’s legal woes. I’m not a patent lawyer and am not taking a stance on the case, but I’ll be sorry if the 7.7 can’t make it into the market. From a hardware standpoint, at least, it’s the nicest 7″ (or thereabouts) tablet I’ve seen. I’d like to see consumers get the chance to embrace it or reject it as they see fit.

[Full disclosure: I spoke on a panel at IFA, and the conference organizers covered my travel costs.]

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note: The Return of the PDA

By  |  Posted at 4:00 am on Thursday, September 1, 2011


“If you see a stylus,” Steve Jobs famously said at the original iPhone launch, “they blew it.” Here at the IFA show in Berlin, Samsung just announced the Galaxy Note, a new device that’s got a stylus–and which revels in that fact. Samsung is calling it “a new category of device,” but to me, it feels like a 2011 take on an old idea: the PalmPilot-style Personal Digital Assistant.
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Is Samsung interested in buying HP’s PC business? Not according to Samsung:

The recent rumors that Samsung Electronics will be taking over Hewlett-Packard Co.’s personal computer business are not true.

We hope this clarifies any confusion that may have occurred.

Posted by Harry at 9:59 am

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Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and 3D glasses maker XpanD have announced that they’re working together to design a specification for Bluetooth-enabled 3D glasses that will be compatible with HDTVs from all the above makers. They intend to ship them in 2012, and the glasses should work with existing 3D-capable TVs as well as new ones. It’ll eliminate the current hassle of having to buy glasses made by your TV’s manufacturer, and will presumably help to drive down prices for the specs.



Posted by Harry at 11:02 pm


I Tried to Love Samsung’s Chromebook. I Failed

By  |  Posted at 10:52 am on Monday, July 25, 2011


Last Thursday morning, as I packed for a three-day trip to San Diego for Comic-Con, I couldn’t decide whether to take my trusty first-generation MacBook Air, or use the trip as an excuse to review Samsung’s Series 5 Chromebook, which I’d just received. So I didn’t decide–I took both.

And then, once I’d arrived at the airport, I realized that I’d forgotten to bring the Air’s AC adapter. The Blogging Gods clearly wanted me to try the Series 5, one of the first commercially-available devices that runs Google’s Chrome OS.

The notion of using a laptop purely as a window to the Web–which is the Chrome OS proposition–isn’t inherently unappealing to me. (In fact, I tried to do just that back in 2008, in a project I called Operation Foxbook, long before Google announced Chrome OS.) Using Google’s first Chromebook, last year’s experimental CR-48, had left me more skeptical about Chrome OS rather than less so. But I still want to be impressed with a truly Web-centric computing device. Sadly, my time with the Series 5 at Comic-Con was frustrating in multiple ways. Google and its hardware partners are selling Chromebooks to the public at prices which aren’t lower than those for similar Windows laptops, but the Series 5, like the CR-48,still feels like an experiment.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Will Put Apps in Your Apps

By  |  Posted at 11:08 pm on Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Samsung may be onto something with the TouchWiz interface that it plans to release for the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

A new promotional video for the tablet shows off what Samsung is calling “Mini Apps” — a collection of utilities that can be launched on top of other Android applications. These include a notepad, calendar, task manager, clock, music player and calculator. They’re the kind of utlities you’d find on a desktop OS, coming in handy for other tasks.

Tablets need more of this. One of my big frustrations with current tablet software is how inconvenient it can be to perform one task that requires two programs, such as taking notes off a web page or adding up numbers from an e-mail. Switching between apps can be a chore if you have to go back and forth several times.

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My friend Seth Weintraub of 9to5 Google (and 9to5 Mac) makes a coherent case for choosing Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1″ over the iPad 2. (Sure, there are at least as many arguments for choosing the iPad 2, the biggest by far of which is LOTS OF GREAT TABLET APPS–but Seth does a much better job than most of summarizing why you might opt to choose a non-Apple tablet.)

Posted by Harry at 11:50 am


Samsung Infuse 4G Brings App Sideloading to AT&T

By  |  Posted at 9:06 pm on Thursday, May 5, 2011

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On Thursday evening, AT&T and Samsung announced the Infuse 4G, an Android smartphone with a massive 4.5-inch screen. But several websites are reporting an even bigger development: the Samsung Infuse 4G will allow apps from outside the Android Market.

Sideloading, as it’s known in tech jargon, has been absent from all AT&T Android phones to date. Prohibiting non-Market apps “minimizes the risk of malicious apps harming customers and provides more protection to the customer’s private data stored on the phone,” AT&T explained last June.

Although AT&T hasn’t announced any policy changes, several bloggers who attended the Infuse 4G announcement on Thursday confirmed the “unknown sources” option in the phone’s settings. Users must check this box to allow non-Market apps on their phones. Samsung’s Philip Berne said his retail boxed Infuse 4G also contains the “unknown sources” option.

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The other shoe–the Samsung-suing-Apple shoe–has dropped.

Posted by Harry at 10:04 am

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