Review: Cheapest Smartphone in the US: Virgin’s $80 prepaid PCD Chaser running Android 2.3

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Sometimes it is fun to take a break from reviewing the newest high-end Android phones out there to see what the other end of the spectrum has to offer. Virgin announced its new low-end phone, the PCD Chaser, which is just $79.99 without signing up for a plan.

Virgin offers unlimited data 3G plans starting at $35 a month. So, you are looking at just under $500 for a year of this phone with unlimited data. That is an incredible deal for an Android 2.3 device that does not totally suck. The Chaser comes with many of the same specs as the previous Virgin-base model, the Optimus V, including a 3-megapixel camera, 800MHz processor, 3.2-inch display, and hardware buttons. The Chaser adds the new, lower $80 price tag and Android 2.3, which the low-cost folks will welcome. However, those who want to see Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean on their devices will lament (Virgin never updated the Optimus V, so do not expect this one to get an upgrade either).

It is still a remarkable little device that once retailed for $149 (but lately it is often on-sale for much less). The Optimus included a 2GB Micro-USB card, but the Chaser does not, which frankly is pretty petty. Although the phone has a low-end camera, you cannot take videos or still images until you buy a Micro-SD card. Lame. I was able to take some borderline decent pictures and movies once I popped in an SD Card. Therefore, this might actually be a step down from the Optimus V.

Otherwise, this fine Android device will be a good step up for feature phone users. Some notes:

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MetroPCS launches Dyle TV service on Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G, requires old school antenna

We told you in January that MetroPCS planned to bring local broadcast TV to Android devices through the “Dyle Mobile TV” app. We knew, at the time, Samsung would launch the first device to feature the service preloaded, and we get the details today with CNET reporting that the 4.3-inch Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G will officially introduce the Dyle Mobile TV service. Unfortunately, the service requires the device—which is a variant of US Cellular’s Galaxy S Aviator—to have a retractable antenna:

Dyle is the answer for people who can’t live without their favorite daytime talk shows and soap operas. Essentially a mobile TV service that picks up special broadcasts of local TV channels, Dyle allows you to get programming anywhere you have your handset or smartphone. In the works for years, it’s finally launched on the Samsung Galaxy S Lightray 4G, which MetroPCS began selling today.
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Google’s new Nexus 7 ad more effective than Apple’s latest Genius ads, study finds

A study found that Google’s latest Nexus 7 ad, which aired during the Olympics is the most effective in the last 90 days. The ad, seen below, depicts a father and his son using a Nexus 7 while camping, as they take advantage of its compass, gaming, and reading capabilities. The survey, conducted by ad research firm Ace Metrix, asked a total of 500 consumers if they would watch the ad again and how persuasive it seemed. Out of a 950-point chart, Google’s “Camping” advertisement scored 662 points.

In contrast, another ad has created a ton of buzz lately. Apple’s latest trio of Genius ads (also aired during the Olympics), depicts a young, eager, Apple Genius helping customers with their latest Mac purchases. The ads take place on an airplane, the street, and in his apartment. The ads garnered a mix reception. The “Street” ad scored on the bottom of the rankings, while the “Plane” advertisement scored on the upper-middle rankings, the analyst told AdAge

We will allow you to decide which you like better by viewing the ads below. Of course, they are different products in different categories, but you can judge by the overall feel. Let us know in the poll below:  [AdAge]

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Samsung unveiling Galaxy Note sequel August 29, rumored to feature 5.5-inch screen

A sequel to Samsung’s 5.3-inch Galaxy Note has been expected for quite sometime, but all of our speculation can finally end today. Samsung confirmed with Reuters late last night that the sequel to the original Galaxy Note will be announced at Samsung’s Mobile Unpacked event on August 29 in Berlin.

That is just two weeks before Apple announces its new iPhone, and many expect it to announce a slightly bigger 7.85-inch tablet.

A Samsung spokesperson stated: “We plan to unveil the next Galaxy Note at the Samsung Mobile Unpacked event in Berlin on August 29.” So, what can we expect? Samsung has not said anything official, but several reports indicated Samsung would include a larger 5.5-inch screen (0.2 inches larger than the original Note).

In May, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S III that sold a whopping 10 million units in July alone. The new Galaxy Note should also be popular. It is assumed to hit European markets first and then the U.S. It is sad the original Galaxy Note is just landing on T-Mobile, especially when the sequel is just a month away from being introduced. Nonetheless, our very own Jordan Kahn will cover the event live from Berlin. Keep it locked to 9to5Google.

 [Reuters]

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HTC announces rough Q2 2012 financial earnings, expects lower results for Q3

After releasing its unaudited results just over a week ago, HTC is out this morning with audited Q2 2012 financial earnings. The Taiwan-based smartphone manufacturer posted a 58 percent year-over-year profit loss for the quarter at roughly $248 million USD, while revenues for the company amounted to roughly $3.04 billion USD. Furthermore, HTC posted its outlook for Q3. It said revenue would be 41- to 48 percent lower than the year-over-year quarter.

HTC has been in a fight with both Apple and Samsung for market share over the last few years. According to numbers released earlier this week by research firm ComScore, HTC is No. 5 in market share in the U.S.— behind Motorola. Despite the HTC One series being considered the best smartphones on the market at one point, sales do not look to be groundbreaking for the company.

Last month, HTC announced that it was selling its 50.1-percent stake in the company Beats. According to several reports, HTC was not meeting Beats’ financial obligations, despite the audio’s brand being embedded in numerous smartphones released (including the One series). This year looks to be a pretty rough for Peter Chou and his team.

 [AP]

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Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners can now use Google Wallet without any workarounds

Verizon Wireless muddied the water earlier this year when it announced that it would not allow Galaxy Nexus users to access Google Wallet. Many began to theorize that Big Red’s move was a defense for its own ISIS mobile payment solution brewing, but a few crafty folks figured out a way to bypass Verizon’s restrictions.

Now, merely a day after the Federal Communications Commission slapped Verizon with a $1.25 million charge for not keeping the “open network” pledge it made when it bought a block of 700MHz spectrum, things have changed. As JR Rafael noted, why does the open network standard not apply to Google Wallet too?

Engadget reported this evening that Verizon Galaxy Nexus owners can now access Google Wallet without any workarounds. The news also comes just after Google Wallet was updated with remote wipe, a web app, and support for all major credit cards yesterday afternoon. Right now, Verizon Galaxy Nexus users do not appear to be able to search for Google Wallet on the Play store and download it; however, they can download Google Wallet with a direct link. Folks, give it a try. [Google Play via EngadgetRead more

Google Apps for Business users can now remotely wipe their mobile device if lost or stolen

Google introduced a new feature last year for Google Apps for Business admins that allows them to manage a large set of mobile devices across all platforms. Admins can make settings, like allowing or blocking the phone’s camera, which then requires employees to set passwords on their devices, and making a way for administrators to set data encryption policies for users’ devices. It is an easy way to manage a ton of devices.

To hopefully make things a bit easier, Google unveiled a new feature for administrators today that gives users (employees) the ability to remotely wipe data off their phone from the moment it is lost or stolen. The feature is very similar to Apple’s Find My iPhone, which just today allowed New York Times reporter David Pogue to locate his iPhone. Users will be able to view their device from the “My Devices” page, where the PIN on the phone can be reset and the device can be locked, rung, or wiped. Non-work Android device users have had a similar feature for quite sometime. We all know it is a scary situation when a personal artifact is lost, so having the ability to somehow find it is always welcomed.

[Enterprise Blog]

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Archos reveals Gen 10 tablet will launch in 3 weeks

According to a Facebook post from yesterday, the Archos Gen 10 tablet will launch in just three weeks.

There is no other information provided on Archos’ Facebook page, but based on earlier reports, this 7.6mm thick tablet works with an ultra-slim, Asus Transformer-like keyboard dock. The Android-powered Gen 10 is expected to run Ice Cream Sandwich, but the recently launched Jelly Bean might ship instead.

The price is also a mystery at this moment, even though Archos generally builds low-end tablets, but rumors place it between $250 and $500.

Check out the preview video below. 

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Google SVP explains lack of Google+ API: ‘I’m not interested in screwing over developers.’

Oh, Web drama.

Third-party developers often cry about the lack of an open write API from Google+. The absence notably means no tools, products, or services can add data to Google’s social network. Well, a few companies, such as Hootsuite, currently have permission to publish, but many more can only read.

With that said, entrepreneur Dalton Caldwell wants to launch ad-less social platform App.net to replace all the bogged-down, ad-supported social networks of the Internet. He even posted an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg yesterday about Facebook’s “bad-faith negotiations” with App.net and “the very real risk of 3rd party development on an ad-supported platform.”

Google Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra noticed Caldwell’s contentious blog post late last night, so he promptly explained in a status update why a public, read-and-write Google+ API is missing in action. His answer is simple: “I’m not interested in screwing over developers.”

Yeah…and this is his full status update:

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Explore NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with Google’s largest special collection of Street View imagery


As a special celebration for the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Google announced today that it added a new collection of Street View imagery that allows users to explore the area through 6,000 panoramic views of the complex. To accomplish the task, Google teamed with NASA to capture the special set of imagery. It will allow you to explore outside the facility and areas like the “top of the enormous launch pad.” Some of the locations you can now explore in Street View include the space shuttle launch pad, Launch Firing Room #4, Vehicle Assembly Building (taller than the Statue of Liberty), and the space shuttle’s main engines.

For fifty years, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has been the launch point for a generation of space technology and exploration. Countless enthusiasts (including this one) grew up longing to see a space shuttle up close and walk in the paths of astronauts. Today, a collaboration between NASA and Street View is enabling people around the world to take a trip to the doorway to outer space, and see Kennedy as it transitions into a multipurpose launch complex for the next 50 years of space innovation… We’d like to thank NASA for making this project possible and giving all of us the chance to digitally walk in the shoes of all of the pioneering astronauts, scientists, engineers and technicians that made our space dreams possible.

If you want to see Google’s largest special collection of Street View imagery for the NASA Kennedy Space Center, go to maps.google.com/nasa now.
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