Tag Archive | "verizon wireless"

Verizon’s Phone Leak, Visualized. Galaxy Tab 4G Coming in November (but which one?), Among Other LTE Devices

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IGN managed to get a hold of what their source claims is an internal document listing launch dates for 14 upcoming devices. Swing by IGN to see the original document, but also hang here to see that I’ve taken the information and plotted it on a handy timeline for you (I am a visual person, after all). Be sure to click to bigify:

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Among the devices listed are the Motorola Droid Bionic (I accidentally didn’t note it as being 4G), which has seen a number of delays, and the Motorola Xoom 4G upgrade, both of which we had already heard were coming in September, so corroboration makes this leak seem quite legit.

According to the leak, Verizon is set to add five additional 4G LTE devices to their shelves that weren’t part of their initial 4G lineup. Those devices include:

  • Samsung Stratosphere
  • Blackberry Curve 9370
  • HTC Vigor
  • LG Revolution 2
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4G

The Droid Bionic and Xoom were part of Verizon’s early 4G lineup, so we already knew they were coming down the line. The ones listed above, however, are mostly new.

I say mostly because we’ve been eyeing the Galaxy Tab 4G which, at first, was announced as a 4G version of the original Galaxy Tab 7, but it may end up being the Galaxy Tab 8.9, instead. Verizon had it listed as the “P8” on the leaked chart, but it is unclear exactly what that means. Whichever form it comes in, the leak tells us that it’ll be happening sometime in November.

The HTC Vigor is specifically designated as being a replacement for the HTC Thunderbolt which was Verizon’s very first 4G device. Similarly, the Revolution 2 is going to replace the… wait for it… Revolution (bet you didn’t see that one coming!), which I’m hoping will provide better battery life, faster charging, and better standby than the original.

The Blackberry PlayBook is also listed on the leaked list, but its launch date is listed as “TBD”.

What’s obviously missing here is any information regarding the iPhone 5 or iPad 3, but any information regarding those devices is unlikely to be known outside of Apple until they announce it publicly. Still, that doesn’t stop us from speculating.

If all of this turns out to be true, Verizon has a powerful pre-holiday lineup; I can only hope that the other major carriers have such an exciting group of devices ready to go!

via: The Droid Guy

source: IGN Gear

Xoom Won’t See 4G Upgrade Until September, Motorola Ought to Apologize

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Motorola is definitely going to get a bad rap for this one. Remember that Xoom that Motorola claimed would be the first 4G LTE tablet, once sent in for an after-sale upgrade? Yeah well the Xoom has been out for months now with no word on when that upgrade would become available. Today Samsung has officially beaten Motorola to offering the first tablet with 4G LTE, much to the chagrin of Xoom owners.

As we mentioned just the other day, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is now officially available, making it the first 4G tablet, available with Verizon’s speedy LTE connectivity, to actually ship, you know, with a 4G radio installed.

The Xoom, which launched back in February, was purportedly going to be upgradable to 4G at some point in the near future. While the device is indeed upgradable, it seems that Verizon/Motorola’s definition of ‘near future’ isn’t quite aligned with the definition the people who bought the device.

After months with no official information about when the upgrade would actually happen, Motorola is now (right as the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is launched) sending emails to customers letting them know that the upgrade process will begin in September – nearly 7 months after the Xoom was made available.

The upgrade process, which requires that customers actually ship their devices in, will take 6 business days to complete, according to Verizon.

I really think Motorola should offer an apology to those who had to wait so long for the upgrade without and communication from Motorola as to when the upgrade would become available. Perhaps they could even offer a little something to owners of the Xoom, like credit to the Android Marketplace to buy an app or movie.

Source: Droid Life

Verizon Announces Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G Pricing and Availability; Galaxy Tab 7” 4G Still Nowhere in Sight

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galaxy tab 10.1Today Verizon has announced that the 4G LTE version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1” will be available in two colors starting on July 28th, with prices beginning at $529. It’s been nearly 7 months since Samsung and Verizon announced a 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7” back at CES and yet information regarding its availability have yet to materialize.

The 8.6mm thick Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be available for purchase in stores and online directly from Verizon. There are two colors to choose from – metallic grey or glossy white. Two memory options are available: 16GB and 32GB for $529 and $629 respectively, which undercuts the 3G iPad 2 by $100 for both capacities. Verizon says that the 4G connection built into the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will provide download speeds of 5-12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2-5 Mbps and the device will fall back to a 3G CDMA connection when not in range of 4G.

You can find full specifications, links, photos, and more for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 at the tracking page in our device database.

That’s fine and dandy, but the question remains: where the heck is the 4G Galaxy Tab 7?!

Back in January, Verizon and Samsung announced the 4G Galaxy Tab 7 on stage in front of the press at CES. We wrote with excitement about the 4G version of the device which would also include a faster CPU and a better camera. Seven months later, the device still hasn’t received an official launch date or pricing.

Perhaps Samsung decided to drop the 4G Galaxy Tab 7 in favor of the Galaxy Tab 8.9? Or maybe they’re still working on updating the famed device with a dual-core CPU instead of just bumping the clock speed?

I’ve reached out to both Samsung and Verizon and they won’t share any info not already made available in the press release that went out 7 months ago. I just hope no one has been waiting this long to buy a 4G Galaxy Tab 7”… their devotion may leave them disappointed.

LG Revolution Full Review

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DSC_5161Verizon is well on the way launching all 6 of the initial 4G devices on their roadmap. First was the HTC Thunderbolt, then the Samsung Droid Charge, and now LG’s Revolution. I was expecting the LG Revolution to represent a lesser performing and lower cost entry into the 4G-equipped phone sector though it’s actually priced up there with the others, but also performing better than I had expected.

Hardware Tour:

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Specs:

  • Snapdragon CPU @ 1GHz
  • 368MB of RAM
  • 4.3” capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
  • Android 2.2.2 with Bing search and custom skinning
  • 16GB memory stick included
  • 4G LTE data connectivity
  • 5MP rear-facing camera with flash (720p HD recording)
  • 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 3.0
  • 6.06 oz. (5.03”x2.64”x0.52”)

When Will Apple Jump on the 4G Bandwagon?

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4gWe’re not into Apple rumors here at Carrypad, but what we are into is informed speculation. Join us for some healthy analysis about when and how Apple will make the move to 4G.

Based on Apple’s Q3 sales figures that were just released today, it’s clear that Apple is doing extremely well, even without a single 4G product in its stables.

This is interesting because 4G is one of the only areas where the iPhone and iPad are behind, rather than being ahead of, or at least on-par with, the competition.

For all intents and purposes, let’s consider HSPA+, LTE, and WiMax all ‘4G’ networks, as they’re all capable of delivering speeds that are well beyond earlier 3G connections.

The Competition

Verizon has now launched three 4G (LTE) smartphones, and is poised to launch at least one more (the Droid Bionic) toward the end of this summer. They also have the 4G enabled Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, as well as the Motorola Xoom which is supposedly going to be the recipient of a 4G hardware upgrade at some point. Additionally, they’ve got a 4G MiFi wireless hotspot and 4G USB modem. [See this article for a roadmap of Verizon’s upcoming 4G smartphones and devices].

AT&T has three 4G (HSPA+) smartphones currently launched, along with a 4G USB modem.

Sprint has fourteen 4G (WiMax) devices available. They’ve got smartphones, tablets, laptops, mobile hotspots, and USB modems. Though WiMax technically has the capability to support 4G speeds, the research I’ve done has indicated that Sprint’s WiMax is sorely lacking in speed, but I’m still putting it on the list because the tech that supports high speeds is already in place in these devices.

T-Mobile has claims to have twelve 4G (HSPA+) devices. They have 7 smartphones, 2 tablets, 2 USB modems, and a mobile hotspot.

What Form Will Apple 4G Come In?

Because Apple currently makes iPhone 4 and iPad 2 models for both AT&T Verizon, it holds that we’ll continue to see those two carriers supported for upcoming tablets and smartphones from Apple.

For the short term, AT&T is relying on HSPA+ to provide 4G speeds to its line of HSPA+ equipped phones; the company often sticks ‘4G’ to the end of the phone’s name to indicate the additional speed (even if some don’t consider HSPA+ to be ‘4G’ from a technical standpoint). In the long term, AT&T is planning on moving in the LTE direction starting this year.

Verizon jumped directly to 4G in the form of LTE, and they seem to have the best 4G speeds so far.

With the two currently supported carriers either already using LTE or eventually moving to LTE, my best guess is that Apple’s first 4G devices will be LTE compatible rather than WiMax or HSPA+, though as you’ll see below, we might end up with a combination of these.

Why Doesn’t Apple Already Have 4G When Others Do?

The technology for Apple to launch their devices with 4G exists, but I believe two factors have held Apple back so far.

Coverage
It doesn’t make sense for Apple to fork over additional money for 4G chipsets if the coverage isn’t already there. If Apple launched a 4G (LTE) iPhone 4 when it announced the Verizon iPhone back in January, it wouldn’t have had a big demographic to sell to because a relatively small number of areas where covered at the time. Passing on the price of 4G hardware to all customers, when only a small portion are actually in 4G covered areas, wouldn’t be good for Apple’s bottom line. It made more sense for them to keep the price attractive until 4G LTE sees widespread coverage.

Battery Life
Battery life on existing 4G LTE devices is still much shorter than 3G devices. I’ve been using the HTC Thunderbolt and LG Revolution and both 4G equipped devices from Verizon have had a hard time providing me with usable all day battery life. Battery life is a major concern for Apple, and I know that they aren’t willing to release a device without all day battery life under typical use.

With every release of the iPhone, Apple has increased performance and battery life. Releasing a 4G iPhone before the technology can come down to a reasonable power consumption level wouldn’t be acceptable for Apple.

When Will it Happen?

The real question is not if, but when. Apple has been wildly successful with the iPhone and iPad, even though the market is already brimming with 4G devices, but that won’t last forever.

Ideally, Apple would launch a 4G iPhone and 4G iPad when the two above factors, coverage and battery life, align. Unfortunately, Apple is now being pressured by all of the other 4G devices on the market.

Verizon’s 4G LTE forecast indicates that they hope to have their entire 3G network area covered with 4G LTE coverage by 2013.

AT&T is launching its first 4G LTE coverage areas this year, but the rollout is going to take time, and they’ll most likely be lagging behind Verizon in 4G LTE coverage in 2013.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be released in 2011, and the iPad 3 likely won’t come until 2012. In terms of coverage, the time is not ideal for Apple to launch a 4G iPhone 5 or 4G iPad 3.

I think that Apple would rather wait for two more product generations before releasing 4G devices (so that power consumption can come down and coverage can increase), which would mean 4G LTE compatibility with the iPhone 6 and iPad 4, but I doubt that they can wait that long.

An interim HSPA+ iPhone 5 might be more practical for Apple, but it would leave Verizon users in the rain as Verizon has no HSPA+ infrastructure.

A compromise could be for Apple to release a 4G (LTE) iPhone 5 on Verizon and a 4G (HSPA+) iPhone 5 on AT&T. I would expect that release in 2011, but the iPad 3 will likely not be released until 2012. At that time, LTE network coverage should be more favorable for AT&T, and Apple may launch a 4G (LTE) iPad 3 for both networks, then eventually bring LTE to their AT&T iPhone offering with the release of the iPhone 6 in 2012. This is a bit confusing in text, so I’ve put together a timeline (apologies if the large timeline runs off the screen on mobile browsers!):

apple 4g timeline

Some might see the release of a separate HSPA+ and LTE iPhone 5 and iPad 3 as unlikely, but it should be considered as Apple currently has two separate versions of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2, one for AT&T’s HSPA 3G network, and one for Verizon’s EVDO 3G network.

Though the LTE coverage is not quite optimal for the upcoming iPhone 5, Apple can’t ignore 4G as it’s starting to be expected from the latest phones (and every major US carrier is pushing the buzz word like their life depends on it). I can’t see Apple releasing the iPhone 5 without 4G, whether that be HSPA+ or LTE.

I would certainly reconsider purchasing the next iPhone if they release it without some form of 4G. How about our readers – does 4G availability influence your smartphone purchasing decisions?

HTC Thunderbolt Testing Notes and Camera Quick-test

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IMG_5414If you’ll recall, the HTC Thunderbolt was released as Verizon’s first phone compatible with their 4G LTE network, which provided impressive speeds which are even capable of functioning as a high-end gaming connection for consoles. Beyond the impressive 4G speeds, the phone has HTC’s hallmark build-quality, a good camera, and a great kickstand to boot.

The HTC Sense overlay that takes place of the default Android interface is liked by some, but hated by others. While I don’t hate Sense, I will say that I lean more toward the latter group. Not that I don’t see the value in HTC Sense, they’ve actually build an impressive number of widgets and mini-applications for users to choose from, but I tend to prefer multi-platform solutions (and official ones at that), so that I don’t have to wait for a company like HTC to get around to updating their software to take advantage of updates to Twitter, Facebook, etc. I spoke a bit more about HTC Sense in my HTC Thunderbolt overview video.

Because the Thunderbolt has been on the market for some time, I’m going to give you a quick rundown of notes that I’ve taken during testing, rather than a full fledged review. If you’re looking for a formal review, the folks over at Laptop Magazine have a great one waiting for you.

Notes

  • Haptic feedback motor can’t keep up – if you type too quickly, the motor won’t be able to vibrate the phone as quickly as you type, this makes it feel as though the phone is dropping key presses when it’s really not.
  • Custom skinning (HTC Sense) is visually clunky, especially in the People (contacts) application
  • Twitter for HTC Sense is a nightmare – the widget for the homescreen is called ‘Twitter for HTC Sense’ but the corresponding app is called ‘Peep’ in the application screen; the DM section of which inexplicably doesn’t tell you who sent you the DM, or even the time that it was sent (looks to be a bug). The widget that interacts with Peep shows, at most, three tweets, and has no indication of what tweets have arrived since the last time you checked. You can’t directly click on anything within the tweets of the widget, such as a username or link, instead you have to click the tweet in the widget which launches Peep, then you can go ahead and click on the link or the username.
  • The ‘dismiss keyboard’ button is where the number pad toggle or shift key usually is on other handsets – annoying!
  • The lock button on the Thunderbolt is too small and too flush with the top of the phone. It’s a little bit hard to find with the finger and the feedback should be better.
  • HTC has included a cursor handle to make it easier to move the cursor around in text which is tremendously frustrating to do without such a handle. Thanks to HTC for adding this as it doesn’t get officially implemented into Android until 2.3 (Thunderbolt is running 2.2). It’s oddly inconsistent though; you can tap in the text field to evoke the handle, but if you hold your finger, a small magnifier will pop up and move with you as you move the cursor. It almost seems like they tasked two people to come up with a solution for cursor selection then accidentally implemented both.
  • When looking from a high angle, there is backlight leakage at the bottom of the LCD screen, and at two small points under the capacitive buttons.

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  • SMS doesn’t vibrate the phone by default which seems a bit silly (dig through the settings and you can fix this)
  • Thanks to HTC Sense, many of the default icons have been changed visually for no reason that I can think of, other than to be different, which isn’t a good thing if you are trying to cater to users who are already familiar with Android (perhaps they are going for people already familiar with Sense?).
  • I may rag on HTC Sense a good deal, but if you like to customize your phone, it has a number of great themes and options to do so.
  • Between the keyboard and the predictive input pop-up, little room is left for what you’re actually looking at on the screen.
  • The space bar on the landscape keyboard is off-center which causes me to hit the period key frequently when I meant to hit the space bar.
  • The Thunderbolt’s kickstand is top-notch and springs up and down with satisfaction. As a bonus, it also holds the phone up in portrait mode which is great for video calling. Sadly, HTC missed a golden opportunity with the stand. They should have placed the micro-USB port on the bottom of the device so that it could sit in landscape with the stand and be an excellent bedside alarm clock/info center while charging. Unfortunately they placed the micro-USB connector on the ‘bottom’ of the phone when the stand holds it in landscape, which blocks the micro-USB port.

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  • HTC added four arrow keys to the already clunky keyboard which take up lots of space and I’ve never desired to use them.
  • You can calibrate the keyboard for a better typing experience, which is something that I haven’t seen any other phone manufacturer allow you to do (it’s unclear whether or not this calibration affects keyboard input only, or all touch input {I would hope the latter}). After calibration, typing on the Thunderbolt’s keyboard is a better experience than most Android phones. Unfortunately this advantage is counteracted by the fact that the Thunderbolt’s screen is overly sensitive. It’s quite easy to press a key by holding your finder near the screen without actually touching it (and issue I’ve found on other devices as well). This means that accidental key presses can (and likely will) occur during fast typing.
  • At 4.3” the screen is too large in my opinion, especially when asked to reach all the way up to the status bar for notifications, then all the way down to the capacitive buttons.

Camera

In my review of the Nexus S, I noted the following about the device’s camera:

What you see is not what you get. It’s very hard to visualize exactly how your photo will turn out after you press the capture button. Pictures are often suddenly brightened after you hit the capture button. Shooting good photos with the phone would be much easier if the viewfinder gave a more clear idea of what will actually be captured once you pull the trigger.

I’m very happy to report that the Thunderbolt is the opposite of the Nexus S. When you hit the camera button, you can be assured that what you see on the phone’s screen is exactly what you’re going to capture. This makes it much easier to snap good photos. Noisy low-light photos and the lack of an HDR mode makes the Thunderbolt’s 8MP camera still inferior to the iPhone 4’s 5MP camera.

The Thunderbolt is capable of capturing great photos given the right conditions (as with many smartphone cameras). Here’s a few unedited sample shots I took with the phone (click to enlarge):

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The colors could pop a bit more on some of these photos, but it does work in daylight as a great point-and-click camera.

LG Revolution Gallery

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DSC_5101The LG Revolution, Verizon’s third 4G phone, has been unboxed, and now we’ve got a full gallery ready for your perusal. Get a sneak peek at the shots you’ll find in our eventual full review below:

See the full LG Revolution gallery here

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LG Revolution Unboxing and Flash Test (it handles 720p!) [video]

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We’ve got the LG Revolution on hand and have prepared an unboxing video for you which also features a flash test. I’m happy to report (and somewhat impressed) that the LG Revolution has so far handled YouTube 720p flash video quite well. This surprised me because the Revolution is using a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU as opposed to Nvidia’s Tegra. Have a look below:

Droid X2 Official and Available Soon, Looks Just Like Predecessor With One Strange Omission–Full Specs in our Database

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droid x2 camdroid x camera buttonSo this is interesting. Motorola and Verizon officially announce the Motorola Droid X2 which seems to be a very well speced phone, but the external design appears to be identical to the original Droid X [tracking page][review] except they apparently decided to remove the dedicated camera button. Is that weird to anyone else?

Sure, I complained about the quality of the buttons in my review of the device saying “the volume rocker and lock/power buttons are top-notch in their firmness and clickability, however, the longish camera button could be used as a mini-seesaw and the four front buttons aren’t much to write home about either,” but I was asking for it to be improved, not removed!

The only reason I can think of that would have led to the removal is if Motorola was seeing a high breakage rate on the button – because they didn’t redesign the phone, the button was removed to fix the issue instead of improved. They may have also needed a tiny bit of space inside the phone that would have been saved with the removal of the button, but that seems less likely.

I’m also very surprised to find the Droid X2 lacking a front-facing camera as we don’t often see top-end phones launching without one these days (I blame the lack of redesign).

Shadow_Front_4, 4/16/10, 1:55 PM,  8C, 5088x2704 (480+2768), 100%, bent 6 adjuste,  1/20 s, R57.9, G42.0, B69.7 Anyway, the Droid X2 is here and should be available for purchase online from Verizon by the time you read this. The phone will not surprisingly run you $199 on-contract. The X2 will hit stores a bit later than its online availability; be on the lookout on May 26th for the device in your local Verizon store.

Now what you’re probably really interested in is the specs. The X2 is nearly identical to the Droid X in appearance, but the internals have been beefed up, big time. As usual, these are all official — check it:

  • Android 2.2 (with a promised 2.3 update down the road)
  • Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU/GPU @ 1GHz
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 4.3” “qHD” capacitive touchscreen display @ 960×540 (Gorilla Glass with glare reducing coating)
  • 3G EV-DO
  • 8MP rear camera with dual-LED flash (captures up to 1280×720 video)
  • Micro HDMI-out with 1080p-capable display mirroring
  • 8GB of memory onboard, 8GB MicroSD card pre-loaded

Those a the major details, but we’ve got a full page in our database dedicated to tracking detailed specs, links, and more on the Droid X2. Be sure to check it out for additional details. Oh and don’t forget to see the Droid X2 gallery. It wouldn’t hurt to look at our original Droid X gallery as well considering the circumstances….

Looks like there will be an updated version of Motorla’s Android skin included on the X2. On the original Droid X It was one of the first things I found a replacement for from the Android Market, so I really hope they make the widgets more space conscious this time around.

Verizon’s 4G LTE: A Capable Gaming Connection?

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If you’ve been following Carrypad for some time, you are likely to have seen some hints of gaming in my work. Specifically, such hints usually take the form of any one of the games from the Halo series. I’ve been playing these games (made by Bungie) for nearly 10 years.

While evaluating the HTC Thunderbolt [tracking page], Verizon’s first 4G LTE phone, I’ve been intrigued by it’s mobile hotspot capability with regards to using it for real-time multiplayer gaming. This post is to talk about whether or not the Thunderbolt capable of providing a 4G connection that can result in smooth competitive multiplayer gaming.

I’ll be using the latest Halo game, Halo Reach, as my example for this post as I have lengthy experience with how the game ‘feels’ while playing multiplayer on various connections.

There’s nothing more frustrating than dying because your connection is worse than another player’s, or because your connection dropped some vital packets on the way to the host.

As a gamer, having a high-quality internet connection is absolutely vital for competitive multiplayer gaming. What do I mean by ‘high-quality’? In the world of real-time competitive multiplayer gaming, super high-speed connections will not give you the edge. Low latency, low packet loss, and low jitter are often much more important than having huge bandwidth. Even the host of the game (the machine that is sending all of the information around to each individual client) needs a relatively small portion of bandwidth to host a well performing multiplayer match, as long as they keep the aforementioned parts in check.

Let’s briefly define what we’re talking about:

  • Bandwidth – Available download/upload speed
  • Latency (also known as Ping) – How long it takes for information to be transmitted to and from another machine
  • Packet Loss – How much of the information that gets sent actually reaches the destination
  • Jitter – Average change in latency over a period of time

Verizon’s 4G LTE service easily has the first bullet covered. The Thunderbolt rips data right out of the air at an impressive rate. I’m currently seeing 18mbps download and 21mbps upload which is absolutely overkill for most gaming scenarios (or any other scenarios for that matter).

Fortunately, Verizon’s 4G is also upping the ‘quality’ end of the connection (latency, packet-loss, and jitter). They are approaching quality levels that would, not so long ago, be considered unthinkable for a mobile data connection.

I connected to the Xbox 360 through a WiFi adapter and was able to connect to Xbox Live and play several games of Halo Reach.

reach_10490_FullFor the most part, the Thunderbolt’s 4G connection was sufficient for competitive gameplay. It felt like being connected to a dedicated home connection, which is very impressive considering that you are getting quality that rivals a direct connection, and speed that outpaces it.

Home Connection 4G Mobile Hotspot
Bandwidth 13.55 mbps / 4.18 mbps (down/up) 20.89 mbps / 5.42 mbps (up/down)
Latency 32 ms 65 ms
Packet Loss 0% 0%
Jitter 30 ms 10 ms

 

As you can see, the numbers are quite competitive, that is… most of the time. I have to mention that while the Thunderbolt’s 4G connection can get the job done for gaming, it does occasionally crap out in short bursts and greatly impact gameplay. From years of play, I can tell you that it feels like a packet-loss situation when this happens. It’s unclear to me whether this is a result of the 4G connection itself being unable to communication for brief periods of time, or perhaps it’s the fault of the Mobile Hotspot app that may be locking up from time to time.

The Thunderbolt’s connection might have double the latency as my home connection, but if you look at the handy chart below (well, actually the second one down), you’ll find that it’s still within an acceptable range for close-quarters competitive, and even tournament quality gameplay. Long range tournament quality gameplay has an even larger tolerance for latency, so we’re definitely in the clear there.

Jitter on the Thunderbolt’s 4G is also impressively low. The 10ms figure up there means that the latency won’t fluctuate by more than 10ms on average, which is very useful for having consistent and quality gameplay without the connection impacting your ability to play.

There’s also one piece to the puzzle that I haven’t yet talked about, and that’s NAT (Network Access Translation). The NAT has 3 possible states, Open, Moderate, and Strict. For many games, Halo Reach in particular, you’ll need an Open NAT to have the best online experience. This chart shows how peers on a network can/cannot communicate to one another based on their NAT setting:

 

To Open To Moderate To Strict
From Open Yes Yes Yes
From Moderate Yes Yes No
From Strict Yes No No

Unfortunately, the connection from the Thunderbolt has a NAT status that is set to moderate. While not an absolute roadblock to gaming online, when it comes to Halo Reach, this limits the pool of players that you have to match with, resulting in longer times waiting to enter games. Players with incompatible NATs also cannot communicate via in-game voice-chat. There are some advanced settings within the Thunderbolt’s Mobile Hotspot app, but none that I could find that would change the NAT configuration.

The thing that is a bit upsetting to me is that using a mobile data connection for competitive gaming should have been possible for a long time. On certain carriers, and in certain places, 3G connections have the bandwidth to support competitive multiplayer gaming, but they’ve never had the quality necessary. There’s really no reason that 3G connections can’t have high-quality characteristics, but it seems that the current fad in mobile data is to shove bandwidth that we don’t really need down our throats, when perhaps their time would be better used improving the quality of their existing data infrastructure. Have a look at this chart from Halo Reach’s Lead Networking Engineer, David Aldridge:

250 kbps …………………………………………. Minimum total upstream for the host of a solid 16 player game
675 kbps …………………………………………. Maximum total upstream bandwidth use from a single peer
45 kbps …………………………………………… Maximum bandwidth sent to one client from a host
1 kbps ……………………………………………. Host upstream required to replicate one biped to one client at
combat quality
10hz ………………………………………………. Minimum packet rate for solid gameplay
100ms/200ms ……………………………………. Maximum latency for close-quarters gameplay for tournament/
casual
133ms/300ms ……………………………………. Maximum latency for ranged gameplay for tournament/casual

 

If you compare this to my chart of tests above, it’s clear to see that bandwidth is not the problem, it’s the quality that is important here. A 3G connection from Verizon could easily serve as the host to a 16 player match of Halo Reach in terms of bandwidth, but cannot keep up with the ping or jitter necessary to support competitive gameplay conditions.

Either way, Verizon’s 4G connection does have what it takes for real-time competitive gaming, though you may occasionally experience bursts of poor quality which will result in awful gameplay. There’s also the fact that the moderate NAT setting will impact your online experience. As a serious gamer, I wouldn’t rely on the Thunderbolt’s connection for gaming use, but it certainly makes an excellent backup connection if your console can connect with WiFi to the Thunderbolt’s 4G hotspot, and would presumably let games online in places that you normally wouldn’t be able to (in the car?).

Mini Review: LG 4G (LTE) USB Modem

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lg vl600 usb modemAlong with a number of other 4G devices, Verizon has launched several USB modems for their speedy 4G data network. The modem is compatible with Mac and Windows, backwards compatible with 3G, and can send text messages from its own number. Data plans will run you $50/month for a 5GB allowance or $80 for 10GB. Overages will cost you $10/GB. Before I jump into the review, I should talk about the allotted data. 5GB of data will almost certainly be enough for someone who has a primary connection at home, but needs data on the go. I’ve been using the modem pretty heavily as a mobile user over the last few weeks and have not yet racked up 5GB (thought I’m pretty close). I doubt I’ll use another gigabyte before the billing cycle ends, but even if I did, I’d only be charged an additional $10 which would mean $60 for the month, but still cheaper than the other option of $80/month for 10GB. Speaking of the $80 option, that’s what I would recommend if you plan on eliminating your home connection and rely on the USB modem as your full-time connection. If you aren’t a heavy internet user though, you could definitely get away with the 5GB plan as a dedicated connection. Also remember that 4G from Verizon is only currently active in places with significant population (major cities) for the most part, but by 2013 they plan to have 4G coverage as widespread as their current 3G coverage (thus, if you are in the market for a 3G USB modem from Verizon, you might consider getting a 4G stick just so that you’ll be compatible when your area is infused with 4G service). While the USB modem is backwards compatible with 3G, definitely check your coverage to make sure that you are in a 4G area. Now that that’s through, let’s get on with the mini review!

Hardware

photo 1 (1)The hardware itself is the LG VL600, and it’s pretty big. I’ll certainly be looking forward to the size of USB 4G modems to come down in the future, but the VL600 isn’t unwieldy. photo 3The cap is permanently attached and flips up when you need to plug the modem in. I’m fairly certain that there’s an antenna in the cap part; otherwise I’d be pretty annoyed that such a huge cap is permanently attached! Out of the box you’ll get the USB modem, a clip-holder, and (thankfully) a 2-foot USB extension cable — in case you want to elevate the position of the modem, or if you don’t have room for the rather large USB plug to go into your computer. There’s also a CD included for installing the necessary software; more on that in the Software section of this mini-review. photo 4My only critique of the hardware is that it’s quite large. The overall size isn’t that much of an issue (I’m not exactly looking for fashion in my USB modems) but the problem is how wide the area around the USB plug is. On some notebooks — MacBooks especially — the wide shape of the housing will likely block adjacent USB ports, which is annoying. Fortunately, there’s a USB extension cable included to fix this issue, but it would be great if the USB modem was small enough not to get in the way in the first place. photo 2 (1)A note before we move on: If you pop the back cover off the stick, you’ll find a SIM slot which most Verizon customers won’t be used to. Presumably you could swap other 4G SIM cards into this slot which means a bit more flexibility over having your number embedded within the device.

Performance

Verizon’s 4G speeds at the moment are phenomenal. The 4G service that comes down to this USB modem deftly surpasses my dedicated home connection from Comcast, and is faster than 80% of US connections, according to Speedtest.net: 4g speedtest While the blazing fast speeds above are certainly impressive, Verizon warns that things will change as their 4G infrastructure takes on more traffic as time goes on, but they are still promising between 5-12 Mbps download and 2-5 Mbps upload which is nothing to scoff at. The upload in this particular test wasn’t so great, but I have seen speeds upwards of 20Mbps. Aside from an issue requiring me to occasionally restart the connection (see Connectivity/Reception section below), web browsing feels like you’re on a speedy dedicated line which is very impressive considering all of that data is coming to you without wires!

HTC Thunderbolt Overview Video

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IMG_5412As promised, we’ve got a solid 30 minute video overview of the HTC Thunderbolt, Verizon’s first 4G phone. You’ll see a quick hardware tour in the beginning followed by a look at the software (Android 2.2 with HTC Sense UI) of the meaty and well built device. Have a look below:

Field Guide: Verizon’s Six Upcoming 4G Devices – 4 Smartphones, 2 Tablets – Pics, Specs, and More

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verizon 4g lte devicesWith the launch of Verizon’s first 4G (LTE) smartphone, the HTC Thunderbolt, just behind us I thought it’d be a good time to lay down an overview of Verizon’s initial 4G device lineup. If you’re planning on jumping into the 4G action, listen up: these are the devices that you’ll be seeing right down the road.

At Verizon’s CES 2011 keynote, the company announced a goal to launch 10 4G devices by mid-year (which is now being refined to “summer”). Of those 10 devices, four are smartphones and two are tablets.

Availability:

All of the devices listed in this article will be available by this summer, according to Verizon.

As for 4G coverage, Verizon is continuing to roll out coverage to more regions. Take a look at the following map to see if your area is already 4G enabled, or marked as coming in 2011 (be sure to read the map legend!)

http://network4g.verizonwireless.com/pdf/VZW_4G_LTE_Coverage_Map.pdf

We saw the launch of the first of Verizon’s four upcoming 4G phones with the HTC Thunderbolt just a few days ago:

HTC Thunderbolt

htc thunderbolt front-backThe sleek looking HTC Thunderbolt is already in the hands of consumers, and we’ve seen some incredible 4G speed tests so far – speeds that easily outperform my home broadband connection (and probably yours too!). Check out this video from GottabeMobile.com of the Thunderbolt benchmarking 24.30Mbps download and 16.60Mbps upload:

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This is no doubt very impressive, but be forewarned: Verizon does not anticipate that customers will see these speeds once the 4G waves become saturated with users. Verizon has been claiming from the beginning of their LTE campaign that users should expect 5-12Mbps download and 2-5Mbps upload.

They are getting great press thanks to the ridiculous speed that the Thunderbolt achieves and even though the speed will reduce as 4G devices become more widespread, they are going to benefit greatly because the idea that “Verizon’s 4G is fast” is going to stick around in the heads of the general public much more easily than specific figures. When customers pick up a 4G phone, even after the speeds have come down to 5-12Mbps, they’ll likely still be impressed with the speed if they are coming from 3G.

Specs:

The HTC Thunderbolt isn’t just a data speed-demon, it’s also a top-of-the-line smartphone packed with some impressive hardware:

  • Android 2.2 with HTC Sense interface (unfortunately not 2.3!)
  • Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon CPU @ 1GHz (Qualcomm MDM9600 chipset with LTE support)
  • 768MB of RAM
  • 8GB of built-in memory + 32GB pre-installed Micro-SD card
  • 4.3” capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
  • 8MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and autofocus, 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS, FM radio

It’s also got a sweet kickstand – a hallmark of several HTC devices:

htc thunderbolt stand

I’m disappointed that it isn’t using running Android 2.3, but it seems like almost every upcoming device has this in common with the Thunderbolt. If we’re lucky, we’ll see an update to 2.3 down the road.

What it doesn’t have in common with most other smartphones on the market today is that the front-facing camera is 1.3MP instead of 0.3MP, this should offer a nice boost in video-calling quality (especially over 4G where the bandwidth is there for higher quality video).

Reviews:

If you’re looking for some quality info about the Thunderbolt, check out these reviews:

Next Up: Motorola Droid Bionic

HTC Thunderbolt Available Tomorrow for $250, Verizon on Its Way to Goal of Launching Ten 4G Devices by Mid-year

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Just a few weeks ago, a series of strange rumors began floating around about the HTC Thunderbolt’s release date being pushed back. Oddly, a lot of people seemed to be upset about this news regarding Verizon’s first 4G phone, which is peculiar considering that neither HTC nor Verizon had yet officially announced a release date. It looks like Verizon actually wanted to quell the talk about rumored push back of release dates. @VerizonWireless tweeted the other day:

We share excitement about the HTC Thunderbolt! When there’s actual news, you’ll get it here. Until then, on to other topics.

htc thunderboltToday, however, it’s official (for real). The HTC Thunderbolt will be launching on Verizon tomorrow (the 17th) for $250. Verizon says that they aren’t taking pre-orders, though customers can start buying the device online starting at midnight EST tonight, and that stores will be operating during regular hours.

Verizon is on its way to making good on it’s promise at CES this year: that 10 LTE devices would be launched by mid-year. Though Verizon has launched other LTE devices (like mobile hotspots), the HTC Thunderbolt is the first phone to be using the carrier’s recently launched 4G data service. Still on the device-bench for a 4G release is the Droid Bionic, a Samsung 4G smartphone, the LG Revolution, and a 4G upgrade for the Xoom and an enhanced 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

People have been excited for the Thunderbolt for good reason. Aside from being created by the reputable HTC and supporting Verizon’s 4G data, the specs are looking quite nice:

  • Android 2.2 with HTC Sense interface (unfortunately not 2.3!)
  • Qualcomm MSM8655 Snapdragon CPU @ 1GHz (Qualcomm MDM9600 chipset with LTE support)
  • 768MB of RAM
  • 8GB of built-in memory + 32GB pre-installed Micro-SD card
  • 4.3” capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480
  • 8MP rear camera with dual-LED flash and autofocus, 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS, FM radio

The iPhone Has Finally Come to Verizon, with a Catch. Why I’m Happy About the iPhone on Verizon as an AT&T Customer

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iphone verizon 4So today is the big day for people who have been predicting that Apple would launch a Verizon iPhone at every single Apple event since the original iPhone announcement in 2007. Nice work guys, your “predictions” came true 4 years later. For those who didn’t follow any of the live blogs, the Verizon iPhone 4 will be, for the most part, aesthetically identical to the AT&T version, and is priced the same. And while it’s still just the iPhone 4, there’s actually some advantages over the AT&T version. Engadget is pointing out that the Verizon iPhone has some slightly changed notches on the steel antenna band, which points to an antenna redesign. I think this is likely because Apple surely doesn’t want a repeat of “antenna-gate”. Also, the Verizon iPhone 4 is going to feature Verizon’s mobile-hotspot which will let you share the device’s 3G CDMA connection to up to 5 other devices over WiFi (this feature comes with a costly monthly fee, of course). If you’re interested in the iPhone 4, you can order it from Verizon on February 10th, or if you’re a “qualified” Verizon customer, you’ll be able to pre-order it on the 3rd of February.

The Catch

One downside to the iPhone 4 on Verizon is actually one of the reasons that compelled Apple to go with AT&T in the first place. That is: Verizon’s CDMA technology doesn’t allow for simultaneous data and voice. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been on a call with someone on my iPhone 4 and also been referring to emails/attachments/websites/apps that were pertinent to the conversation. With Verizon’s iPhone, you’ll end up with a lot of “Hey did you get that super important attachment?”, “Uh…. let me call you right back”. Still, for those already on Verizon and who prefer it’s service to AT&T, a slightly compromised iPhone is better than no iPhone at all.

Why I’m Glad the iPhone Has Come to Verizon as an AT&T Customer

It’s about damn time that AT&T had some competition! The city in which I live must have the worst iPhone service ever. I’m lucky if I break 10kbps up and 5kbps down in some places. Thank the lord that there’s usually WiFi. With the iPhone now in Verizon’s hands, there will finally be competition for the best iPhone service, and AT&T is going to be forced to step up their game if they don’t want new cellular customers going straight to Verizon for the iPhone. After being recently called out by consumer reports as the worst carrier in the US, AT&T won’t be able to hide behind it’s claims of “Nation’s fastest 3G network” for long. I’d much rather have Verizon’s 3G reliability than AT&T’s 3G, which is fast in well covered rural areas, but horrendously slow in densely populated places. There’s finally someone to give AT&T the kick in the pants that it’s needed for several years.

There’s also FaceTime. More people with iPhone 4’s means more people with FaceTime, the simple to use — but so far under-deployed –  video calling service that’s built right into the iPhone 4 and latest generation iPod Touch. With more people having access to the service, it will become more widespread, which is always good for users. Still, it won’t be until the carriers feel that their networks are fast enough to remove the WiFi ball and chain from FaceTime that we really see it take off. And hey, what do you know, maybe this would be a good opening move for Verizon against AT&T… I love competition!

viphone search graphAnd furthermore, I’m glad that the iPhone 4 has come to Verizon because I don’t have to listen to the same Apple rumor over and over! Four years was long enough. Now that the iPhone is on Verizon and the iPad has been released, the Apple rumor mill will have to devote it’s attention to something else. I just hope I’m not hearing about touchscreen iMacs for the next four years….

Samsung Announces First 4G LTE Phone for Verizon

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lteSamsung was one of the partners today at Verizon’s CES conference, and in addition to an upgraded version of the Galaxy Tab, they also announced a smartphone for Verizon’s 4G LTE network. Oddly though, the press release issued by Samsung is simply calling the phone “The Samsung 4G LTE Smartphone”. I’m presuming it’ll come under the Galaxy S brand at some point down the road, but for the time being it’s name is somewhat perplexing.

Samsung started with the AMOLED screen, then they went to Super AMOLED, and now they are touting the “Super AMOLED Plus” display on this phone. What’s next, the “Super AMOLED Plus Ultra Mega” display? Anyway here’s what we know so far about Samsung’s 4G LTE Phone:

  • Android 2.2
  • 4.3” capacitive Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen @ 800×480
  • 1GHz CPU (likely Samsung’s Cortex A8 based “Hummingbird”)
  • 8MP rear camera with LED flash
  • 1.3MP front facing camera

We’re still waiting for more details (especially a catchier name!) so stay tuned!

Source: Samsung Press Release

Samsung Announces 4G LTE Samsung Galaxy Tab with Faster CPU, Higher Resolution Camera; WiFi-Only Galaxy Tab Also on the Way

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lte galaxy tab2Today at Verizon’s CES conference, JK Shin, the president of Samsung, whipped a 4G equipped Galaxy Tab out of his coat pocket. This slightly upgraded version of the Samsung Galaxy tab has a faster CPU and better rear camera.

The Cortex A8 CPU has been slightly increased from 1GHz to 1.2GHz. The rear camera has been bumped up from 3.2MP to 5MP. Samsung also says that the device will have pre-loaded LTE specific applications. Aside from this, it’s the same device as the original Galaxy Tab. I’m interested to know how the battery life will differ between the 3G and 4G version. You can find the specs of the original Galaxy Tab at our tracking page in the device database.

Chippy’s been relying on his Galaxy Tab quite heavily during CES and I bet he wishes he had the upgraded version right now!

I feel like Verizon will end up with some angry customers on it’s hands after original Galaxy Tab holiday sales. I can only hope such customers will find out about the upgraded version so that they can return the original and get the latest one.

Samsung is also giving availability information for the launch of the WiFi-only Galaxy Tab in the US. They say that it’ll be available in the first quater of 2011. Note that the WiFi only version shares the same specs as the original.

Source: Samsung Press Release (4G Galaxy Tab) & Samsung Press Release (WiFi-only Galaxy Tab)