Several LG Windows Phone 7 handsets to be released this year: first one in September? Nope

According to LG’s PR Ken Hong the company is expected to launch its first Windows phone 7 device in September (this sounds a bit early given that the OS isn’t expected to launch before October 7th) and will follow up with other WP7 handsets before the year end. As I have reported several times here, LG is the primary OEM parter for Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft currently has an dedicated LG Team in Redmond working on devices. Other than the LG Panther we can probably expect to see the LG C900 and LG E900.

UPDATE: Ken Hong just told me that he told IDG “around end of the Q3″ and not in “September”!

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HTC Wildfire Hardware tour video and picture gallery

Here’s my quick hardware tour picture gallery and video of the HTC Wildfire handset. There isn’t much to say frankly. The device is really well build and feels good in the hand, the since is also perfect for one handed navigation. The only major downside is the QVGA resolution of the screen. I must admit that I totally forgot that it had a QVGA screen before turning it on for the first time. But once it finished boot it up I was unfortunately unpleasantly greeted by the super low resolution of the screen. QVGA is kind of acceptable on a 2.8″ screen but on a Wildfire’s 3.2″ it really sticks out like a sore thumb. Add also the fact that the panel used by HTC suffers from severe ghosting when panning and scrolling graphics (I will show you this in an upcoming video). I talk more about performance in an upcoming video. Check out the gallery and video tour after the break:

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Windows Phone 7 codecs support: No HD video playback, no DivX either

Remember a few months back I posted the list of media codecs supported in Windows Phone 7 and was really happy to see that things like DivX and VC-1 were natively supported. Well, bad news folks, I’ve just discovered that Microsoft has recently updated the list with more information and the first thing you will notice is that DivX is no longer on the list but there’s even worst; the maximum video playback resolution is 800×600 at 30fps. That’s right, Windows Phone 7 won’t support HD video playback even though the competition does it now without a problem (iPhone, Android, Symbian etc..) and the hardware supports it. What I don’t understand is that you can apparently encode MPEG-4 Part 2 – Simple Profile videos in 720P (if the device’s camera supports it) but can’t playback at 720P (remember that encoding takes more resources than playback, so WTF?). Check out the full list after the break:

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AT&T to be Premier Windows Phone 7 vendor in the US

According to a company spokesperson AT&T will be the Premier mobile operator partner for Windows Phone 7 in the US. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given the recent leaks about the Windows Phone 7 retail material hitting AT&T’stores and the rumor that the mobile operator has already placed an order for 8 Million WP7 handsets. One thing to keep in mind is that AT&T won’t be the exclusive carrier, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will also have Windows Phone 7 devices (as seen in the leaked T-Mobile roadmap). AT&T will probably have more models and have a bigger / more expensive marketing campaign.

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Microsoft’s upcoming Bing Maps Street Slide view and 3D navigation in Photosynth

If you have used Microsoft’s Bing Maps lately you are probably familiar with the Street Side feature that enables you to navigate in first person view through the street of many US cities (similar to Google’s Street View). Microsoft Research isn’t totally happy about the user experience, especially the way the users has to jump from one bubble to another when trying to navigate through a city and is now currently working on a new technology called Street Slide:

Systems such as Google Street View and Bing Maps Streetside enable users to virtually visit cities by navigating between immersive 360° panoramas, or bubbles. The discrete moves from bubble to bubble enabled in these systems do not provide a good visual sense of  a larger aggregate such as a whole city block. Multi-perspective “strip” panoramas can provide a visual summary of a city street but lack the full realism of immersive panoramas.

We present Street Slide, which combines the best aspects of the immersive nature of bubbles with the overview provided by multi-perspective strip panoramas. We demonstrate a seamless transition between bubbles and multi-perspective panoramas. We also present a dynamic construction of the panoramas which overcomes many of the limitations of previous systems. As the user slides sideways, the multi-perspective panorama is constructed and rendered dynamically to simulate either a perspective or hyper-perspective view. This provides a strong sense of parallax, which adds to the immersion. We call this form of sliding sideways while looking at a street facade a street slide. Finally we integrate annotations and a mini-map within the user interface to provide geographic information as well additional affordances for navigation. We demonstrate our Street Slide system on a series of intersecting streets in an urban setting. We report the results of a user study, which shows that visual searching is greatly enhanced with the Street Slide interface over existing systems from Google and Bing.

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