19 June, 2009

Coolest mobile offerings at CommunicAsia 2009

By Trevor Tan, Ariel Tam, Hedirman Supian, TODAY | Posted: 19 June 2009 1009 hrs

Samsung Jet

CommunicAsia 2009 ends Friday, and mobile phone vendors - even those not involved in the infocomm event - have been going all out to outshine one another, trotting out shiny handsets that sport supersonic processors, transparent multi-touch trackpads and full-fledged satellite navigation systems.

TODAY presents some of the coolest offerings announced.

Jet ahead of the competition

Fancy having a mobile phone as fast as a jet? Well, the Samsung Jet has landed!

The quad-band 3.5G phone packs a brilliant 480dpi 3.1-inch WVGA AMOLED display (800x480 pixels), a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera, built-in A-GPS and a MicroSD slot (up to 16GB) into a sleek black body slightly thicker than 1cm.

The main selling point is the Jet's blazing fast 800MHz application processor. In comparison, the latest iPhone 3G S, which is supposed to be super-speedy, only sports a 600MHz processor.

Of course, the Jet runs on a different platform on Samsung's proprietary operating system with its latest TouchWiz 2.0 user interface (UI).

Some of its features include Samsung's Dolfin Internet browser, 3D media gate UI, motion-response UI, smart unlock, a three-page main menu and a three-page widget screen.

The Jet comes with 33 widgets and around 40 more that are downloadable online. The Jet also supports multi-window browsing and "one-finger zoom".

At the local media launch, where four additions to the Samsung Omnia family were also announced, I managed to get a brief hands-on with the Jet.

The UI is pretty responsive - I can use my thumb to zoom in and out of a picture and even pan a photo easily. Moving from page to page in the main menu with the swipe of a finger is a breeze.

The widget screen is fully customisable, and widgets can be moved and expanded with just one digit. But given the Jet's supersonic processor, I have to admit I was expecting something even faster.

The Jet's already starting to fly off the shelves, at S$698 without an operator plan.

LG-GD900 Crystal

A clear beauty

Hot on the heels of the posh LG Arena smartphone launched just a month ago comes another touchscreen beauty called the LG-GD900 Crystal.

What's unique about the Crystal is its slide-down transparent alphanumeric keypad constructed of tempered glass and framed by a shock- and vibration-resistant composite alloy called Liquidmetal.

Cool as it looks (when unsmudged by nasty fingerprints), the keypad is not just an aesthetic tool.

What's fascinating is its usage as a trackpad - it reads handwriting, responds to multi-touch commands (like pinching to zoom out) and lets you access specific applications based on what LG dubs Gesture Command.

For example, draw an M symbol with your finger on the keypad and the phone's music player's activated - perfect for the overachieving multi-tasker who wants to listen to music while he's in the midst of writing an email on the main three-inch WVGA screen.

The Crystal also makes use of the 3D S-Class cube-like user interface that made its debut on the Arena, which makes accessing applications a pleasure.

The 8-megapixel auto-focus camera on the Crystal is snappy enough and the microSD card slot will enable multimedia hoarders to junk 32GB of content into the phone. Minus points for the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack though.

The phone touts WiFi and 7.2Mps HSDPA connectivity and will be available in mid-July.

And, a tidbit for Android fans - LG has revealed that it will launch three Google Android-based phones this year.

Garmin-Asus M20

This Garmin-Asus will get you there

Navigation specialist Garmin has partnered ASUSTeK Computer to create the Garmin-Asus nuvifone series to ease your directional woes.

First announced at the Mobile World Congress in February, the tri-band 3G M20 is powered by Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional with enterprise email.

Available in yellow, red, blue and black, the M20 packs a 2.8-inch touchscreen, a 3-megapixel auto-focus camera, a choice of 4GB or 8GB memory and Garmin nuvi satellite navigation (sat-nav).

Available only in black, the quad-band 3.5G G60 runs on the Linux OS and has a 3.55-inch touchscreen, a 3-megapixel auto-focus camera, 4GB memory, a MicroSD slot and Garmin nuvi sat-nav.

With Garmin nuvi sat-nav, it's not just about finding your way around; it's also about using location-based services (LBS).

Both phones' applications, like emails, calendars and social networks, are closely linked to LBS. You could use the Ciao! app to find friends on a map and navigate to meet them.

Both phones provide localised maps with localised points of interests, as well as real-time traffic information with turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions.

During my brief hands-on with the phones, I find them well-built, with even the smaller, sleeker M20 fitting well in my palm.

However, the user interface is a tad counter-intuitive, especially the G60's small, scrollable row of icons.

Plus, I already find the 4.3-inch screen on my car-mount GPS system too small for me to see clearly - what more with a 2.8-inch screen!

The M20 and G60 will be available in the second half of the year.

Nokia E72

New and improved

If you walk around Raffles Place during lunch time often enough, I reckon you'll see more than your fair share of the Nokia E71, the smartphone favoured by many corporate types.

It's shiny, it's lithe and it boasts the ease of use you've come to expect from a Nokia phone, with the added bonus of a Qwerty keyboard and a smartphone-grade operating system.

Well, its successor, the E72, will reach our shelves in the third quarter of the year.

Nokia hasn't messed much with the form factor, but it has added an optical navigation key so you can zip through menus, emails and images that much faster.

The camera's been upgraded to 5 megapixels and there's also a rockin' 3.5mm audio jack so you can plug in your own earphones. Other niceties include built-in GPS, with a digital compass to boot.

On the software side, the 3.5G E72 includes Nokia Messaging that will let you chat on instant messaging platforms like Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and Windows Live Messenger.

The phone is equally capable when it comes to handling corporate email accounts based on Mail for Exchange and Lotus Notes.

The E72 was launched on Monday at the Nokia Connection 2009 event in Singapore, alongside the touchscreen-based 5530 XpressMusic phone and the 3719 clamshell phone.

Sony Ericsson Satio

Starry Satio

Shutterbugs need to wait a few more months to get their paws on the Sony Ericsson Satio, a 3.5G smartphone featuring an amazing 12-megapixel auto-focus CyberShot camera with Xenon flash.

You can view your photographic masterpieces and watch HD movies on its 3.5-inch 16:9 ninth high-definition (nHD) display. You can also play nHD format games like Prince of Persia or Asphalt Road on this widescreen display.

Satio comes with Wifi, runs on the S60 5th edition Symbian OS with Exchange ActiveSync support, and incorporates A-GPS with turn-by-turn navigation.

Huawei U8230

Smart and lasting

It seems like every company's starting to trumpet its Android-based smartphone. Chinese mobile phone vendor Huawei's the latest, with the U8230 smartphone.

Huawei claims that the U8230 is fitted with a battery that has the highest capacity (1,500 mAH) among the Android-powered handsets available.

The phone has 3.5G, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, along with a 3.2-megapixel camera and a 3.5-inch touchscreen.

It will be out by the second half of the year but availability here depends on demand.

- TODAY/yb

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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