Sony Tablet S Press Release:


PRESS RELEASE

Sony Announces Market Launch of Sony Tablet
Two Optimally Designed Android™ Devices Deliver Portability, Easy Handling and an Immersive Entertainment Experience

SAN DIEGO, August 31, 2011 — Sony today announced the market launch of its first two Sony Tablet™ devices. The Android-powered Sony Tablet S and Sony Tablet P devices combine unique hardware, content and network services with seamless usability to create a world of engaging networked entertainment experiences.

Available for pre-sale today and on shelves next month, the Sony Tablet S device is optimized for rich media entertainment on its 9.4-inch touchscreen display. With a powerful NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 mobile processor, the Sony Tablet S device lets you enjoy the web as well as your favorite content and applications on its large, high-resolution screen. Weighing in at just about 1.33 lbs., its unique asymmetric design allows for hours of comfortable use and built-in Wi-Fi® compatibility means Internet connectivity virtually anywhere there’s a hotspot.

Available later this year, the Sony Tablet P device is ideal for mobile communication and entertainment. With its innovative folding design, two 5.5-inch displays and weight at about 0.83 lbs., it can easily fit into a pocket, purse or backpack. It features the same NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 mobile processor and is both Wi-Fi compatible and 4G capable exclusively on AT&T’s mobile broadband network,1 offering users access to digital content including videos, games, and e-mail, while on the go, nearly anytime.

Both devices run on Android, Android 3.1 on Sony Tablet S devices 2 and Sony Tablet P devices will be equipped with Android 3.2 by the time they ship. Both models feature front and rear facing cameras that allow for video recording and capturing still images. The devices also support micro USB interface and SD card.

Sony Tablet devices are also distinguished by four key features that set them apart from any other tablets on the market. These include: optimally designed hardware and software, a “swift and smooth” experience, network entertainment services and cross-device functionality.

“These devices truly represent the best of everything Sony has to offer,” said Mike Lucas, senior vice president of Sony Electronics’ Networked Technology and Services Division. “From hardware to software and services, Sony Tablet devices embody all our innovations rolled into one.”

Optimally Designed Hardware and Software
Unlike other tablet devices, Sony Tablet S device has an ergonomic, asymmetric design which allows it to be easily held or carried for long periods of time. The unique form factor shifts the device’s weight closer to your palm, making it feel lighter and more comfortable while reading an e-book or watching a video. The screen is sloped when placed on a flat surface, enhancing visibility and making typing more comfortable. Placing a Sony Tablet S device onto a specialized charging cradle (sold separately) converts the device into a digital photo frame, a digital clock that displays customizable information or chumby with access to over 1,500 fun and entertaining apps.

Software taking advantage of the unprecedented design of the Sony Tablet P device allows its dual screens to be used for different functions simultaneously such as playing video on one screen while using the other as a controller or reading email on one screen while using the other as a virtual keyboard. The displays can also be combined to form a single large screen for Internet browsing and more. By holding the device vertically, you can also read eBooks much in the same manner you would a physical book.

Both Sony Tablet devices are equipped with Sony’s TruBlack™ displays which reduce reflection and glare from sunlight or fluorescent light for high-contrast visibility both indoors and out.

Swift and Smooth Experience
A combination of Sony technologies, Quick view and Quick touch, allow for faster loading of web pages, a highly responsive and fluid touch screen as well as an exceptionally intuitive user interface. The large keys of the virtual keyboard take full advantage of screen real estate while automatically adjusting to the task at hand. A numeric keypad pops up when inputting passwords and word suggestions or auto word complete make email and texting a breeze.

Networked Entertainment
Both Sony Tablet devices come complete with access to a full suite of Sony’s network entertainment services.

• Sony Entertainment Network services: Video Unlimited is your ticket to the latest releases from every major movie studio to rent or own. A pre-open campaign for the Sony Tablet devices will be offered at device launch with limited content and more content will continue to be released over time. Music Unlimited, available in October, offers instant access to a global catalog of over 10 million songs from every major record label (numbers vary by country). Simply sync to the cloud and enjoy the music you love on Sony Tablet devices or any other Internet-enabled Sony device. A six month trial basic membership from Music Unlimited and a free movie download from Video Unlimited come with the purchase of each device.

• PlayStation® Certified: Sony Tablet devices are the first PlayStation® Certified tablets that provide out-of-the-box gaming with included favorites “Crash Bandicoot” and “Pinball Heroes.”

• Reader™ Store: Access bestsellers, new releases, classics, magazines and more from more than 2.5 million titles at Reader™ Store by Sony. The store’s intuitive reading interface is ideal for on-the-go reading, allowing book lovers to set bookmarks, make highlights and adjust font sizes as they read. A free eBook download is included with the purchase of the device.

• Personal Space™ by Sony: This free service allows you to easily share pictures and videos captured on Sony Tablet devices. You can also access albums that were previously uploaded from other devices.

Video, music, games and other content can be directly accessed by way of the “Favorites” menu without the need to re-launch any of the respective applications.

Cross Device Connectivity
Control your home entertainment system and enjoy content in new ways. With Sony Tablet devices, you can “throw” personal pictures and video to DLNA compatible televisions such as BRAVIA® HDTVs with the touch of a button. You can also throw music to compatible wireless speakers such as Sony’s HomeShare™ speakers. The Sony Tablet S device, which is equipped with infrared technology, can act as a remote control for multiple home entertainment components such as TVs, Blu-ray Disc™ players, cable and satellite boxes, and more. The built-in Universal remote not only controls your Sony products, but other brands as well. Sony Tablet S device is the world’s first Android Tablet running Honeycomb with a built-in A/V remote control. Both Sony Tablet devices are compatible with the Media Remote™ app which allows you to control Sony devices, including BRAVIA televisions, through Wi-Fi® technology.

Wide Range of Applications
A variety of applications add to the entertainment options. With access to the Android Market™, you can browse thousands of useful time-saving and fun apps. Sony Tablet devices also provide instant access to Google™ mobile services and applications, including 3D maps and easy web search with Google Voice Search. To make app discovery even easier, Sony offers its Select App site which highlights new and unique Android applications in a number of categories, recommended for Sony Tablet devices. Recommended applications will be spotlighted at launch with more to come in the following weeks and months.

Accessories, Pricing, Availability
A range of optional accessories includes a cradle, AC adapter, LCD screen protector, carrying case and USB adaptor cable for Sony Tablet S devices, and a rechargeable battery pack, AC adapter, LCD screen protector, carrying case and detachable panels for Sony Tablet P devices. A Bluetooth keyboard is also available for both models.

The Sony Tablet S device is available in both a 16GB and 32 GB version and will be sold at Sony Stores including online and other authorized retailers nationwide for about $499 and $599, respectively. For more information, please visit http://www.sony.com/tablet or check out http://www.sony.com/tabletvideo for a video unboxing.

Purchase the first 7 inch Honeycomb tablet, Acer A100 released


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Acer has beaten Archos to the punch in releasing the first 7 inch Honeycomb tablet. The Iconia A100 is now up for sale and its very affordable coming in at only $329 for the 8GB version and $349 for the 16GB variety. Both versions feature Android 3.2, 1GHZ Tegra 2 dual-core processor, 5MP rear camera, 2MP front facing camera and it has built-in ports for expansion. You’ll also find and HDMI jack, microUSB and a microSD slot. This is a great choice for a new Android tablet and you won’t have to purchase extra port for expansion. Hit the jump for more information in the full press release.

SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 12, 2011 – Acer America expands its Acer Iconia™ Tab line of tablets withits first 7-inch tablet – and the industry’s first 7-inch tablet running Android™ 3.2 (Honeycomb) – in the United States and Canada. The new Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 features an incredibly portable sub-one pound design, a vibrant 7-inch multi-touch display, and a sleek, thin design that is comfortable to use and take virtually anywhere.

With the Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 tablet, customers can have a single portable device for enjoying entertainment such as games and websites as well as productivity applications such as a calendar and email. The tablet comes pre-installed with Adobe Flash Player 10.3, so Adobe Flash games and websites can be enjoyed right out of the box. In addition, the WiFi device is the ideal size for moms, families and individuals who want to stay entertained and productive, since the screen is large enough to enjoy video and other multimedia, yet the device is portable enough for comfortable single-handed use.

 

Weighing in at a mere 0.92 pounds and measuring only a half-inch thick, the Acer Iconia™ Tab A100’s super-portable size makes it easy to take anywhere. The vibrant 7-inch TFT WSVGA screen displays social networking sites, photos and more in 1024×600 resolution and high-color contrast, so customers can enjoy crisp, vibrant content enhanced by a 16:10 aspect ratio and 75-degree wide viewing angle. Plus, the 7-inch capacitive touch-screen is incredibly responsive and accurate for convenient finger-tip control.

“The Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 tablet delivers the ultimate combination of portability and performance for fun and gaming as well as staying in touch,” said Sumit Agnihotry, vice president of product marketing, Acer America. “Families are spending more time social networking and enjoying web-based digital media, so a highly portable tablet like the Acer A100 will let them get more done and stay connected on-the-go to enjoy their lives more fully.”

Ultimate Companion for Mobile Moms and Families

The Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 is the ultimate companion for mobile consumers such as moms and families who want a single device for gaming, fun, entertainment and staying in touch on the go.Customers can enjoy movies right out of the box with the Google® Movies app that allows users to rent and play movies on the Acer A100. Also, Google® Music gives customers instant access to their personal music collection on the web without the hassle of wires or syncing. Customers can also use NemoPlayer® for video, photos and music and Aupeo! for enjoying online radio. Dolby® Mobile Technology on the tablet delivers dynamic sound to enhance the enjoyment of music and movies. In addition, the Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 can be connected to a TV via its HDMI port,so customers can share full HD videos in 1080p resolution. Game play can also be extended to a big screen TV or display with the Acer A100’s HDMI port and dual-display support. As a result, more people can watch and enjoy the game as it is mirrored to the larger screen. Plus, the Acer A100 can be used as a controller for the game as the player watches the image on the larger display.

 

In addition, games are crisp, fast and realistic thanks to the performance technology and six-axis motion sensing gyro meter. Customers can enjoy rich and exciting Adobe-flash based Web pages, games, videos and animations with Adobe Flash Player 10.3. Thousands of additional apps can be easily downloaded from the Android Marketplace.

 

Save Memories, Shop Better, Stay Connected with Cameras

The Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 allows customers to always be ready to take photos and video on-the-go and quickly share them by email and on social media sites. Lighter than most SLR cameras, the Acer A100 has a 5MP rear-facing camera with flash, so families will know they have a great camera with them to capture all of life’s fun and unexpected moments. It also records clear and detailed HD Video at 720p at 30 frames per second. Plus, the rear-facing camera can be used with many available apps to read bar-codes and QR codes for shopping and other promotions. The tablet also has a 2MP fixed-focused front-facing camera and webcam for video chats.

 

Reading and Productivity Apps Let Moms and Families Get More Done

The Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 e-reading functionality will be appreciated by a range of family members. Moms and dads can download e-books to enjoy during quiet moments in comfortable single-handed usage. The tablet comes pre-installed with Acer LumiRead and Google® Books eReading apps for enjoying e-books. Plus, the color screen vibrantly displays children’s e-books, so they’ll always have something to enjoy during long or unexpected waits. Extra features like the realistic page turn effect make reading even more fun. The auto-rotation allows customers to enjoy e-books, games, movies and more in either landscape or portraitmode.

 

In addition, everyone can stay up-to-date with extended family and friends via Acer’s Social Jogger, which puts Facebook® and Twitter® in one place for quick and easy reading and updates. Moms can keep their family schedule organized with the easy-to-use Acer “Day Planner” application that gives an easy-to-view list of upcoming activities. Working moms and those with busy schedules will appreciate that the Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 helps them stay productive. Customers can set up multiple email addresses and view Microsoft® Office documents using the trial version of the “Docs to Go” app for getting things done quickly.

Android 3.2 Brings Additional Benefits for Browsing and Entertainment

The Acer A100 comes installed with Android 3.2, the latest version of Honeycomb to give customers the latest in advanced mobile browsing. Customers can browse the Internet with speed and ease, even web pages built with Flash, thanks to Adobe Flash 10.3 that comes pre-loaded on the Acer A100 tablet. In addition, Android 3.2 lets customers have more control over their entire browsing experience, such as managing web pages by tabs, more advanced privacy settings, and proper sizing of apps and web pages for the 7-inch display.

Connectivity to WiFi and Other Devices

The Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 can quickly and easily connect to Wi-Fi networks via the integrated Acer InviLink Nplify 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi CERTIFIED wireless technology to access the Internet, the Android marketplace for apps and more.

 

Customers can enjoy their own digital content on the Acer A100 tablet by transferring files such as videos, movies and eBooks to it through the tablet’s micro-USB port or by using the Micro-SDcard reader that can read Micro-SD cards with a capacity up to 32GB. Plus, the integrated Bluetooth allows consumers to connect the tablet to a variety of other devices, such as headsets and keyboards.

 

High-Performance for Maximum Enjoyment

The Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 packs maximum performance into its incredibly portable size. It uses a high-performance NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM to give customers blazing fast access to multiple programs and apps at once. The Ultra Low Power GeForce® GPUenhances gaming, web, and multimedia for a more realistic, responsive experience.

The Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 provides solid uptime with a 1530 mAh Li-polymer battery for up to five hours during Internet browsing with WiFi, up to four hours during web-streamed video and up to 4.5 hours during 720p video playback.(1)

Sharing Digital Media is Easy with clear.fi

Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 comes with Acer clear.fi, which connects with any other DLNA-compliant device to quickly and easily share and enjoy digital media. It automatically detects clear-fi-enabled devices on the wireless home network (smartphones, notebooks, HD media players, etc.) and gathers and organizes media files by type (video, music, photo, pre-recorded TV).

 

Priced Starting at only $329.99

The Acer Iconia™ Tab A100 is available in the U.S. now at national retail stores and will be available in Canada next month.  The Acer Iconia™ Tab A100-07u16u with 16GB of memory(2)has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $349.99 U.S and $399.99 CAD, while the Acer Iconia™ Tab A100-07u08u with 8GB of memory(2) has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $329.99 U.S. and $349.99 CAD.

About Acer

Since its founding in 1976, Acer has achieved the goal of breaking the barriers between people and technology. Globally, Acer ranks No. 2 for total PCs and notebooks.(3) A profitable and sustainable Channel Business Model is instrumental to the company’s continuing growth, while its multi-brand approach effectively integrates Acer, Gateway, Packard Bell, and eMachines brands in worldwide markets. Acer strives to design environmentally friendly products and establish a green supply chain through collaboration with suppliers. Acer is proud to be a Worldwide Partner of the Olympic Movement, including the Vancouver 2010 Olympic WinterGames and London 2012 Olympic Games. The Acer Group employs 8,000 people worldwide. Revenues for 2010 reached US$19.9 billion. See www.acer-group.com for more information.

-(via AndroidMixer)

HTC Sensation [Review] :


A hotly anticipated smartphone with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a “Super” 4.3-inch screen, and a manufacturer-skinned version of Android 2.3 — we must be talking about the Samsung Galaxy S II, right? Not on this occasion, squire. Today we’re taking a gander at HTC’s Sensation, a handset that’s just begun shipping in Europe under a short-term Vodafone exclusive and which should be making its way to T-Mobile in the USA early next month. By beating its stablemate the EVO 3D and Moto’s Droid X2 to the market, the Sensation becomes the world’s first 4.3-inch smartphone with qHD resolution, while also serving as the debut phone for HTC’s Watch movie streaming service and Sense 3.0 UI customization’s.

Hands On with HTC Sensation [VIDEO] :

Hardware:

Before delving into the minutiae of the Sensation’s construction, let’s take a moment to address its most outstanding physical asset: it feels small. 4.3-inch smartphones, starting with HTC’s own HD2, have always been impressive beasts, but beasts is what they were — ungainly, crude, and occasionally harder to handle than an angry carp. Not so with the Sensation. This handset is only 6mm taller, a single millimeter wider, and — at 11.3mm — actually slightly thinner than the 4-inch HTC Incredible S. Putting aside the measuring tape and grappling with the pair confirms what those numbers suggest: the 4.3-inch Sensation is nigh indistinguishable from its more modest family mate.

That’s been achieved with a shrinking of the top and bottom bezels framing the screen and few other changes. You’ll still find an extra-large volume rocker on the Sensation’s left side, as you would on the Incredible S, accompanied by a micro-USB input a little further down. The bottom of each phone is home to a microphone and a notch for opening up the back cover, the right sides are left barren, and the tops feature headphone jacks and power / lock buttons. Also functionally identical are the rear layouts, with an 8 megapixel autofocus camera sat next to a dual LED flash and a single loudspeaker grille. All these design similarities are hardly coincidental, HTC sees that arrangement and styling as a winning combination and we have to agree.

 -(via Engadget)

The Sensation is a simple and untainted joy in the hand. Its 148g (5.22 ounce) weight is perfectly balanced, the curvature that starts at the sides and rolls all the way through the back is spot on, and there are almost no issues of fit and finish. Almost. Our review handset had a small crevice in its lower left side that allowed the backlight intended for the capacitive Android keys to leak out. This is a problem that will only matter to you if you’re actively looking for it, but it does detract from the phone’s otherwise sterling build quality.

Features :

Praise is due for the aluminum frame that HTC has wrapped around the sides, back, and even a small portion of the Sensation’s front. It’s rigid, shaped from a single slab of metal, and makes this a sturdy and creak-free handset. A pair of soft-touch plastic inserts take up a third of the rear cover each, with the upper one protruding a little bit in front of the camera lens and LEDs, lending them an extra bit of protection. You should be mindful that that also creates a niche where dust and debris can snuggle up. Speaking of snuggling, the very design of the Sensation’s wraparound enclosure makes it a bit of a pest to pry open. Nothing quite so maddening as what HTC served up with the Inspire 4G (then again, what is?), but this is definitely not the case for you if you’re inclined to perform quick and dirty SIM swaps between your phones. A microSD card slot also lurks under the Sensation’s skin, and it’s filled by default with an 8GB unit, which augments the 1GB of onboard storage. It’s accessible without removing the battery from its silo, though the SIM card slot is not.

 -(via Engadget)
We’d be remiss not to compare the Sensation against the most clear and present danger to its quest for smartphone supremacy: Samsung’s Galaxy S II. The latter is clearly a stupendously thin device, whose admittedly plastic construction left us with few complaints. Still, when faced with the question of which phone we’d trust to last us the full 24 months of a typical contract, we have to hand it to the Sensation. It isn’t flawless, but its aluminum shell is sturdier, and we found its curves more ergonomic and natural, which should help make accidental drops that extra bit less likely.

Battery life:

                                                                                                                                                                                                 -(via Engadget)

As is true of all battery-powered devices, your time away from the wall plug with the Sensation will be determined by what you use the handset for. We found recording 1080p video to be particularly taxing, closely followed by shooting still photographs. An hour’s walk through London intermixing the two ate up a third of the Sensation’s 1520mAh charge. Angry Birds gaming sessions, on the other hand, are handled with no greater difficulty than casual web browsing — neither caused any significant dent in our battery reserves. What really stands out about the Sensation is its energy frugality when left to idle. We left our Gmail and Twitter updates to push themselves to the phone as and when they were available, but in spite of that activity the Sensation barely uses any juice at all when not in our hands and doing awesome, futuristic things. This is a major asset that turns it into more than just a plaything for power users. Folks that don’t care to recharge their phone every single night can buy the Sensation safe in the knowledge that it’ll last for a good couple of days of casual use, while those who want to squeeze all the power out of it can do their thing as well, accepting the relevant diminution in endurance.

We’ll get to the Sensation’s performance further on in the review, but suffice it to say that what you’re getting here is an extremely versatile handset. Neither the 4.3-inch screen size nor the dual-core processor pose challenges to using the Sensation as your daily phone, but they do expand on what you can do with it when the fancy strikes you. The Galaxy S II is again the obvious competitor here, and it too acquitted itself well in our battery tests. Our testing, however, showed the Sensation to be more efficient when not actively in use — which, even for intensive smartphone users, tends to be the majority of the time — granting it a higher ceiling for battery life. The Super LCD on board also seems to be consuming energy with restraint, making that frankly average 1520mAh cell look very good indeed. If battery life is an important consideration in your spec-for-spec comparison with the Galaxy S II, score this as a win for the Sensation.

Display :

In our review of the Galaxy S II, we opined that though its display was of superlative quality, its pixel density left a little something to be desired. The Sensation gives us that extra flourish with a 960 x 540 resolution (35 percent more pixels than on Samsung’s 800 x 480 panel) on a Super LCD screen that fails to match the vivid output or viewing angles of its Super AMOLED Plus competitor, but at least maintains a similarly hyperbolic naming scheme. There are two significant advantages to moving up to qHD resolution. The first and most tangible is that you get more of everything: Gmail displays more missives, the browser fits more of your favorite blog’s content at a time, the calendar includes more agenda items, and you get to see more of your contacts without having to scroll (11 on the Sensation versus 9 on the WVGA Incredible S screen). Additionally, though the user interface sticks to the standard 16 grid slots for your icons and widgets, having them all in higher resolution lends an extra layer of visual polish, if nothing else. The camera and gallery apps benefit from having more dots to display your compositions and resulting images.

-(via Engadget)

Video is where the second big advantage of qHD emerges. 960 x 540 pixels provide a native 16:9 screen ratio and thereby sends those pesky black bars off into oblivion. You’ll be able to watch both content you’ve downloaded and recorded yourself in full screen without resorting to any compromises such as zooming the picture in and cutting off the widest portions. And if you’re really a lover of the widescreen experience, there’s an option in the camera app to let you shoot 16:9 as well. That’ll help keep your content optimized for a vast range of desktop monitors and the great majority of HDTVs. Small considerations, perhaps, but good to have nonetheless.

In terms of the Sensation’s output quality, it merits noting that in spite of its 4.3-inch display bearing the same branding as the 4- and 3.7-inch ones on the Incredible S and Desire S, it is not up to the same standard. Viewing angles are the first giveaway, as they’re nowhere near as expansive on the Sensation. At 45 degrees away from center, the Sensation’s picture washes out, whereas the Incredible S maintains color fidelity until laid almost flat. Additionally, the smaller handset is brighter and better saturated than its newcomer buddy. None of this is to say that HTC has installed a poor LCD on the Sensation, we’d just refrain from calling it a Super one. As to our running tally against the Galaxy S II, the Sensation wins out on resolution, but loses by a big margin when it comes to quality and the sheer feeling of luxury that the GSII provides.

Oh, we almost forgot to mention the peculiar contouring that HTC has applied to the edges of the glass screen. They’re ever so slightly higher than the rest of display, with a tiny little slope lending the whole screen a subtle concavity. As a result, most of the glass never makes contact with surfaces when the phone is laid face down, adding a smidgen extra protection against scuffs and the like. Not that you’re terribly likely to mar this expansive screen, which has been given the Gorilla Glass treatment just like the rest of HTC’s recent line. Needless to say, that’s a marked improvement from last year’s Nexus One, which HTC had the gall to claim wasn’t supposed to go into pockets.

Reception, earpiece and loudspeaker:

Calls on the Sensation were for the most part clear and competently handled. HTC has an extra microphone on the back of the handset, whose job we presume is to analyze external noise and nullify its effects. In voice calls, the other party heard us even on a busy street where we had our own struggles keeping up with what they were saying to us. The earpiece is neither excellent nor poor, it just does the job. Its position at the very top of the phone means that you’ll generally place the sound source up above (rather than next to) your ear when taking a call, but then it’s not like HTC had a lot of flexibility as to where to put it. Guess this is just the price we have to pay for the aggressively thin bezels on this handset.

-(via Engadget)

Moseying through our usual testing area revealed no aberrant behavior from the Sensation’s 2G and 3G radios and reception was on par with what we would generally expect. This phone can actually reach HSPA+ speeds of 14.4Mbps down and 5.76Mbps up (hence why it’ll be known as the Sensation 4G in the US), but we didn’t have the requisite network to test it out. The Sensation’s antenna is built into the plastic parts of its rear cover, a recurring trend in HTC’s recent handsets.

As to aural performance, the loudspeaker on the back does a decent job and output to headphones is particularly pleasing. The solo speaker doesn’t lose much when the Sensation is put down on a flat surface and though a stray finger pressed against its opening will muffle a large proportion of the sound, those aforementioned microphone holes help to leak it out of the case. Overall, it’s an aspect of the phone that we consider simply satisfactory, it’s not going to be the thing that sways your decision in either direction. HTC’s bundled earphones are attractively styled, but generally disappointing. They were a poor fit for us, offered next to no sound isolation (an asset when trying to listen to music on the move), and their in-line remote control is the very definition of cheap plastic. The latter’s also susceptible to recognizing accidental bumps as input, adding to our impression that you should keep the headset in its wrapping, just in case you decide to resell the handset down the line — yes, the maintenance of resale value is the best thing we can say about these earphones.

If you plug-in your own set of ear blasters, on the other hand, you’ll be treated to some very nice output indeed. SRS virtual surround sound enhancements baked into the phone make a tangible difference by widening the sound stage and creating a more intimate feel to whatever you’re listening to. For a smartphone that aspires to woo customers with top tier multimedia performance, getting audio right is a big deal and the Sensation thankfully delivers. Top marks on that, HTC, but if you can’t bundle good headphones of your own, just don’t bother next time. We’ll take stickers instead.

Camera:

The unnecessarily capitalized feature that HTC is introducing with the Sensation’s camera software is a little something dubbed Instant Capture. It’s not a setting that you can toggle; HTC rightly presumes that you’ll always want to minimize lag between telling the phone to snap a photo and the actual capture, and it works almost quickly enough to justify its name. Low light conditions will slow you down some as the autofocus isn’t as fast, plus the flash might need to pop on and do its job, but responsiveness on the whole is very impressive indeed. We thought the Galaxy S II was fast to shoot and reload, but the Sensation isat least as quick.

Also helpful is a little preview window in the bottom left corner (when the phone’s held in landscape mode), which shows the last photograph taken. This isn’t a novelty for Android, but it wasn’t available on the recent Incredible S and Desire S and makes particularly good use of the increased visual detail afforded by the size and pixel density of the Sensation’s display. You can obtain enough information about a captured image from it to disable full screen image review after snapping a shot, leaving the camera free and ready to record another masterpiece. A sweet shrinking animation transitions taken photos into the smaller window and gives a visual clue to newbies that they’ll find their photographic archives by tapping on it.

                            -(via Engadget)

Image quality, the meat and potatoes of camera work, is usually high on the Sensation, though some software irregularities do undermine the evident strength of the hardware on board. What you see above is a 100 percent crop from this image, exhibiting a great deal of sharpness given the full 8 megapixel size at which the Sensation records its images, but also an unsightly blotch of blurriness right in the middle of the flower. The latter is caused by HTC’s penchant for applying noise-reducing blur — essentially melting neighboring areas of like color into one so as to reduce graininess.

Even with the company’s auto-enhance option turned off (our whole sample gallery was shot this way), the software will automatically choose where to blur things out to deliver more visually appealing imagery at lower resolutions. That’s the key, really. Looking at the pictures in our sample gallery, you’ll be hard pressed to pick out any softness, because they’ve been shrunken down to a mere 800 x 600 pixels in size, a situation that’s mirrored when viewing pictures on the phone, so you can definitely see HTC’s motivation for optimizing its software to make things look good at lower resolutions. It’s just that photography purists (and just people who expect 8 megapixels to mean 8 megapixels) will scoff at the idea that full-size quality should be sacrified for improvements at lower resolution.

Another issue caused by the software is that it’ll occasionally get its color balance pretty badly wrong. Perusing our gallery, you’ll find London buses looking slightly pink and black fencing shading toward a dark (deep?) purple. Thankfully, there’s a decent selection of tweaks you can play around with, including exposure, contrast, saturation, sharpness, and a set of white balance presets.

The predictably limited dynamic range of the Sensation’s camera does mean that in high contrast situations you’ll end up with either blown-out skies or overcast landscapes, depending on what you choose to focus on and how the camera meters the available light, but that needn’t be a tragedy — it can lead to more artsy and interesting imagery. Overall, we reckon the Sensation is equipped with a mighty fine imager that might require you to be just a little more hands-on in controlling its settings in order to obtain the best results.

We must commend HTC for the intelligently designed dual LED flash. It’s bright enough to illuminate group portrait shots and yet subtle enough not to whitewash a subject that’s placed immediately in front of the camera lens. The front-facing VGA camera, on the other hand, didn’t impress us much. It produced murky and grainy results and continues to be a tool primarily intended for video calls.

Video recording on the Sensation is simply effortless. Thirty frames of glorious 1080p can be filled each second and it seems to be done with utter ease. The camcorder’s ability to keep up with motion on screen is markedly superior to what we’re used to as well. There’s a fluidity to the Sensation’s output that’s rare to find. Make no mistake about it, folks, this is where your dual-core processor will run circles, squares, and trapezoids around the competition. Though performance is sublime, we must note that actual visual quality of the Sensation’s video leaves some room for improvement. HTC again seems to be fiddling with the recording — by blurring some parts and sharpening others for a more uniform look — which can sometimes deliver unnatural-looking results.

Sound is recorded in stereo, another feather in the Sensation’s multimedia hat, though we found the phone unusually prone to picking up wind noise. In our estimation, this is owing to the position of the microphone used for voice calls, which unfortunately gets exposed directly to oncoming wind when the phone’s held horizontally to shoot movies. Aside from that, quality of sound recording was pretty much middle of the road; it’s certainly a far cry from the tinny stuff the HTC Flyer recently treated us to.

Software:

Many of you might gaze upon the HTC Sensation and see your ideal hacking phone — tons of hardware potential, great ergonomics, and an almost spotless bill of physical health. All you need now is a nice community-built ROM for it and you’ll be flying… but oh wait, that’s right, HTC developed a weird allergy to custom Android ROM installations this year and has been locking down the bootloaders on its 2011 phones to prevent such chicanery.

Company CEO Peter Chou announced yesterday that this unpopular policy will be done away with in the future — a welcome decision that may be enacted with retroactive effect and lead to the full unleashing of the Sensation — but as it stands today, this lovely new handset’s only option is HTC’s Sense-tweaked Android 2.3.3 install. You can polish it up by overlaying custom app launchers or UI skins from the Android Market, but customization purists will have to look elsewhere.

Sense 3.0:

With such an introduction, you might surmise that HTC’s latest version of Sense, 3.0, hasn’t treated us quite the way it should and you’d be right. It isn’t that the user experience suffers from any glaring flaws or omissions — it is generally smooth, responsive and pleasing to the eye — but we’re left disappointed by the indolent pace of innovation that HTC has exhibited with this supposedly major new release. Unfortunately, the Sense 3.0 tweaks have proven to be mostly superficial and there’s little in the way of added functionality over and above what you can obtain on a Gingerbread-sporting Incredible S.

Let’s start off with the bright spots. The overhauled lockscreen is by far and away the biggest and handiest improvement in the latest Sense. It now offers four customizable app shortcuts, which can be dragged into a so-called activation ring and thereby unlock the phone straight into the app. Above the shortcuts, you can have some spectacularly animated weather animations signifying the current weather, or stock updates, or a floating array of your pictures, which too can be dragged into that ring for a closer look. On the whole, it takes the previously dormant, borderline nuisance of a screen and it turns it into a much more dynamic and useful part of the user interface. We like the way that selecting an app shortcut creates an outline of it inside the activation ring, which in itself moves up from the bottom of the screen and closer to the app. These subtle visual clues, along with other hints and animations, help newcomers to smartphones find their way around with little difficulty.

There’s no denying the fact that, superficially, Sense 3.0 is a clear step ahead of its predecessors. Navigation between homescreens is executed with a three-dimensional animation, implying a carousel arrangement, and there are tons of little visual tweaks suggesting depth in, around, and behind UI elements. Moving left of the left-most homescreen sends you to the right-most one, while skipping in a single direction too quickly pulls your view back, exposes the full carousel, and gives it a rapid spin in that direction. Unlocking the phone in the conventional way spins your first homescreen into view in a similar fashion. This is all well and good, and it certainly makes for a good exhibition of the underlying graphical prowess, but it’s purely cosmetic. There’s no utilitarian reason for why you’d want to send your homescreens into a washing machine cycle — that actually takes control of the phone away from you, whereas we’d have thought the whole point of customizing Android was to improve and enhance it, not make it more unwieldy.

-(via Engadget)

HTC’s obsession with weather follows the same path. The Sensation comes with a set of splendid visuals for the common weather conditions, which are actually accompanied by fitting sound effects as well (yes, there are small audio recordings for sunny, windy, and rainy weather). Alas, those get annoying very quickly indeed and you’ll soon find yourself trying to either turn them off or disposing with the offending widgets. HTC’s weather widget will allow you to mute the sound, but the expansive animations aren’t optional. For all its glitz and glamor, the weather app on the Sensation is actually rather dumb. It allows you to cycle through a number of cities while still on the homescreen, but it’s pretty much a matter of luck whether tapping on your selected city will bring its weather up. Sometimes the app reloads itself and sends you to the correct metropolis, but on other occasions it just loads up the last city you were on. Ergo, tapping on Paris doesn’t guarantee you won’t get sent to Tokyo. Similarly, attempting to see weather for upcoming days by tapping on them on the home widget just brings you to conditions for the current day.

Overall, the new Sense UI is designed to make a great first impression, but scratch below the surface and you’ll find little substance. We still aren’t great fans of the onscreen keyboard, in spite of the extra room on this larger-display handset, and though HTC explicitly promised to improve its input prediction algorithms, we weren’t struck by any great improvements there either. Precise text selection and cursor placements are also uniquely challenging on HTC devices, with the execution being arguably worse than on the default Android Gingerbread software. Finally, the move to a more graphically intensive UI does occasionally take its toll on the phone’s otherwise exemplary responsiveness, with detectable traces of lag cropping up here and there.

Having said that, let’s also give an approving nod to HTC’s integration of a Quick Settings menu in the drop-down Android menu (it sits alongside the usual Notifications area) and the nice app switcher that appears when you hold down the Home button. Moreover, the company does a good job of juggling resource use by background tasks, a valuable trait. The reason we’re not more enthused about these items is that they’re also present and accounted for in the company’s other Gingerbread handsets, making the Sensation just another in a succession of phones rather than the singular and outstanding device that its former codename of Pyramid suggested.

Performance:

We’ve danced around and hinted at the Sensation’s performance long enough, now how about we address it head on? As already pointed out in the camera section, this handset’s biggest struggle is in finding things that can challenge it. Dragging the camera icon into the unlocking ring on the lockscreen and taking your first snapshot is a spectacularly quick affair, certainly faster than on the 1.5GHz Flyer, HTC’s only other Sense 3.0 device so far. Google Maps and the web browser are almost dripping with lubricant, they’re so slick. Flash videos embedded online load up as quickly on the Sensation as we’ve seen on any other smartphone. The limits to this handset’s abilities are found when trying to play back 1080p Flash video — it turns into a slideshow — but 720p is no problem at all.

HTC Watch, the company’s newly launched online movie store / rental kiosk, is available on the Sensation, having made its debut on the Flyer. It works on a progressive download basis that’s practically indiscernible from streaming, you just end up with the trailer, TV episode, or movie fully downloaded on your phone after you’ve watched it. There’s a small buffering delay before you can start playback, but again, that’s part for the streaming course. Although we aren’t sure of the actual resolution at which movies are played on the Sensation, they look (and yes, we’ve been saving this adjective for just the right moment) sensational. That 16:9 screen ratio and the processing power within the phone pair up to deliver a supreme movie-watching experience. If you weren’t convinced smartphones were big or good enough to make films enjoyable, you owe it to yourself to check out what HTC has to offer here.

App launching in general is nearly instantaneous. HTC claims opening apps is now twice as fast as on its previous handsets, but we ran a little side-by-side test with the Sensation and Incredible S and would argue that “twice” is an overly ambitious thing to say. The fact is that a number of recent Android phones, including those from HTC’s own stable, have reached a very high level of responsiveness, so differentiating from them is hard. The Sensation definitely comes out ahead of all bar the Galaxy S II, just don’t expect it to be a mindblowing improvement on the currently high standard.

Naturally, you’ll be wanting some benchmarks to go with your serving of hands-on impressions. We ran the Sensation through the usual gauntlet, however our usual warning about screen resolution affecting scores must be reiterated here. Quadrant’s 3D graphics tests are done at native resolution, which as we mentioned above is a 35 percent more intensive workload for the qHD Sensation than it is for, say, the WVGA Galaxy S II. Don’t be shocked, therefore, to hear that the Sensation’s scores coalesced around 2,000. Linpack typically gave us around 46MFLOPS, matching the Galaxy S II. Other graphical tests were hamstrung by a 60fps cap, giving us average scores of 58fps in Neocore and 42fps in Nenamark. Needless to say, the full power of that Adreno 220 GPU will need some nice and intensive new games to push it to its limits. It’ll still be a good long while, however, before there’s anything on Android capable of choking up the hardware inside the Sensation.

Sum-up:

The HTC Sensation is an extremely accomplished device, but there’s no getting around the feeling that it underwhelmed. While it is indeed a dual-core speed demon like the Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC’s latest doesn’t exhibit quite the same level of UI responsiveness and is furthermore saddled with a signed boot loader that prevents users from improving things themselves. Our biggest issue is with Sense, whose fancy new graphics and improved lock screen utility can’t hide the fact that the core UX hasn’t materially changed from the days of the Hero.

In terms of design language, HTC is a monoglot and proud of it. The Sensation doesn’t break with the company’s established styling, yet its subtle physical refinements add up to make it a veritable pleasure to hold and to operate. Combining these excellent ergonomics with the phone’s superior battery efficiency and generous qHD display resolution makes the Sensation a formidable foe for Samsung’s celebrated new flagship. Given the choice between the two, we’d opt for the Galaxy S II for its brilliant display and snappier performance, but that’s just a matter of preference. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what it is you value most in your Android super phone and pick the one that fits those needs best.