Hydro Thunder Go hands on video

The first game of the 6 weeks of Must Have Games promo event is now released and it’s as previously announced: Hydro Thunder Go. Hydro Thunder was organically an arcade game developed by Midway back in 1999 and release in the same year on the Sega Dreamcast console. The game essentially consists of racing high speed transformable speedboats through crazy looking race tracks environments that are constantly changing. You will have access to 9 race environments and 12 different speedboats alongside several Xbox Live achievements.

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Windows Phone 7 Mango Preview

Can’t get enough of Windows Phone 7 Mango ? I just came back from the Paris unveiling event with quite a bit of info regarding the first major update of Microsoft’s mobile OS. First let me start by pointing out to the previous Mango post I did about the new APIs and Developer related features here and here. Today’s preview will mainly focus on the consumer experience and some other bits of info that you may have not heard of before.

There’s obviously not much to say that already hasn’t been said earlier and even shown in official videos. The first question on everybody’s mind is most probably: When is Mango going to be released? Well the official answer is this Autumn but from what I’ve been told there won’t be a official launch day similar to what was done last year with Windows Phone 7. Instead, OEMs will start launching their devices when they are ready. This essentially means that once Mango is RTM and certified by carriers, manufacturers will integrate the gold code into their upcoming phones and start shipping them once they are ready. There will be a steady release of Mango handsets throughout the fall season and holidays.

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Pinball League for Windows Phone 7: Hands on Preview

Here’s an early preview/review of a yet-to-be release Windows Phone 7 game called Pinball League and developed by two developers in Greece:  Nikos Kastellanos and Tasos Rizopoulos who formed Tainicom. They are same guys who developed the funky Augmented Reality Accelerometer Dev Kit back when devices weren’t available. Anyway, Pinball League is actually their first Windows Phone 7 game and frankly it’s a pretty good start. The game renders everything in real-time 3D and is obviously developed in XNA . Everything runs relatively smoothly with only some occasional framerate hiccups when many sound files have to be loaded at the same time. I noticed that this was an issue with many WP7 games (Fruit Ninja for example suffers from the same thing when you do combos) so I don’t know if this is mainly an OS issue or not (the devs are working on finding a way to fix it though). Check out my the game in action after the break:

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MSN Onit Windows Phone 7 application hands on video

Microsoft has just released a new MSN application for Windows Phone 7 today which is apparently aimed at only one demographic: Young Men. MSN Onit is essential a MSN news readers which puts an emphasis on what guys are attracted too: Women, cars, Money, fitness etc.. So how doe it look like? Performance is quite good and UI retains follows the Metro guidelines. The only cons I see is that it’s strictly aimed at US users (and is only available in the US Marketplace AFAICS) and doesn’t run under the lock screen (unlike the cool MSN Videos application). Check out my MSN Onit hands-on video after the break:

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LG Optimus Black Preview: Hands on video

One more hands preview from Mobile World Congress today. This time it’s the LG Optimus Black Android handset which feature the company’s newest 4inch WVGA IPS panel called Nova display. Under the hood you’ll find a TI OMAP 3630 SoC clocked at 1Ghz powering the whole thing. This is obviously far from the Optimus 3D’s insane hardware specifications but should be enough to run Android 2.3 without any problem. This SoC includes a PowerVRSGX530 GPU so you can expect 3D performance to be weaker than the Galaxy S and its SGX540.

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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc Preview: Hands on video

One of most impressive and best looking Android handset on display at Mobile World congress was definitively Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Arc with its super thin design and nice 4.2 inch screen. You can check out the hardware specifications here in case you didn’t know them yet. similar to the vast majority of the high-end Android phones being released the Xperia Arc features Qualcomm’s MSM8255 SoC with the Adreno 205 GPU. The device’s main differentiating features are the Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA® Engine (FWVGA 854×480 and LED Back-lit but looks identical in quality to an SLCD panel IMO) the 8 Mpix Exmor R CMOS sensor (maximum aperture of f/2.4), mini-HDMI port and super thin design (only 8.7mm thick). So how does it all look like in real life? After handling it for a few minutes I can safely say that the Xperia Arc is one of the nicest phones out there. It may be a tiny bit too plasticy but size of the screen really makes it feel like something unique.

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HTC Incredible S Preview: hardware specifications and hands on video

It has been well publicized that HTC’s Mobile World Congress announcements have been somewhat underwhelming in terms of hardware compared to the competition. You can read my thoughts about this in my HTC Flyer preview post and also here were I discussed the Windows Phone 7 hardware needs. Let’s start with HTC Incredible S which the spiritual successor of the original HTC Incredible released on Verizon last year. Check out the full specifications after the break:

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Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Preview: hands on video and gameplay

Wondering what’s inside Sony Ericsson’s first PlayStation Certified handset? Just check out the full software and hardware specifications here. Now let me give you my first hands on impression of the Xperia Play after playing with it for a couple of minutes earlier this week. The build quality seemed to be relatively solid but a bit too much plasticy or my taste and the two L and R trigger button on the top of the device really felt cheap because of this. The 4 inch FWVGA (854×480) screen looks really nice thought and had good viewing angles for an LCD (I’m guessing that it’s the same as on the Sony Xperia Arc (hands-on video coming soon..) and similar to the SLCD found on HTC’s latest devices (but Sony Ericsson loves to called this Bravia something.. marketing..you know..).

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Super AMOLED vs Super AMOLED Plus

Here’s a small non-scientific comparison of the new Super AMOLED Plusdisplay found on the recently unveiled Samsung Galaxy S II versus the regular Super AMOLED found on the Samsung Galaxy Sand Samsung Omnia 7. I unfortunately can’t upload the full resolution images where the difference between two is more clearly visible because my server bandwidth would take a serious hit so I re-sized them a bit and did some cropping. Check them out after the break:

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Qualcomm MSM8660 and Adreno 220 GPU demo

Here’s a nice video I shot yesterday at Qualcomm’s booth showing the Adreno 220 GPU in action running an OpenGL ES 2.0 demo developed by Southend interactive (on Android). The development device that you see hooked up to the HDTV via the mini-HDMI port packs Qualcomm’s MSM8660 dual-core CPU and Adreno 220 GPU that is going to be found in HP Palm’s TouchPad (under the APQ8060 name) and apparently the HTC Pyramid aka Sensation / (note that the output displayed on the TV is WVGA content upscaled to 1080P). I had a small chat with a couple of Qualcomm guys about their future SoCs and also the Windows Phone 7. I was once again told that they were working really closely with Microsoft right now on current Adreno 200 support (HLSL/ Programmable Shader support in XNA should by coming this year) and future Chassis which are being discussed and finalized right now (that’s what I got from the hints I was given). MS apparently is also wants to support higher resolution screens so newer SoCs are going to be certified. Because the of the Adreno’s close architectural similarities with the Xbox360 Xenos GPU the company can squeeze more out of it compared on Windows Phone 7 compared to Google on Android (there’s also the fact the Microsoft has total control over the API which is Direct3D Mobile).

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HTC Flyer preview: Hardware specifications and thoughts

First off, big thumbs down to HTC who only allowed those, who were able to go to the press event, to get a closer look at the HTC Flyer yesterday and even those present at the event weren’t allowed to touch it… (I had a meeting with MS at the same time so I couldn’t be present at HTC’s announcement). So everybody else was left with 3 devices running a promo video behind a glass (see video after the break). Anyway, so what is the Flyer all about? Well, I’m still trying to figure out what went through HTC’s mind here and why they decided to make this weird Android 2.4 tablet instead of going for a Tegra 2 powered Android 3.0 Honeycomb product like every other major OEM. The company definitely seems to be in so kind of identity crisis and thinks that it’s more important for them to push out their brand name with recycled hardware (HD2-HD7, Desire HD -> Incredible S, Desire S etc..) instead of pushing the hardware forward or even updating the current device with their latest software version so that we won’t have to buy exactly the same hardware (re-branded and renamed) just to have the latest version of Android and Sense. But I then remembered something: HTC has always done this back in the Windows Mobile days. Every single WinMo phone that came out after the original HTC Touch was the same frigging hardware internally and all that changed was the TouchFlo version (their last innovative product was the HTC HD2). The same is happening now with their Android devices and this is seriously starting to piss off some people. Now when you think about it, the MSM8255 that was first introduced in the Desire HD is still one of the best SoC out there so there was no real reason to change it and personally think that what Samsung and LG are doing is just overkill given that Android doesn’t seem to take any real advantage out of the crazy processing power found in their newly announced handsets.. The main problem here is that HTC is going to market those new devices as something brand new super phones when they are in fact just recycled Desire HD’ with smaller screens.

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LG Optimus Pad preview: Hands on video

The LG Optimus Pad is planned to be the second Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet to hit the market later this year after the Motorola Xoom finally launchs at the end of this month in the US. What sets the Optimus Pad apart from its direct competition is its physical size and smaller 8.9 inch screen (15:9 aspect ratio) which was specifically designed to be easily portable with one hand. The device also packs two 5 Mpix cameras to shoot 720P 3D Stereoscopic content which can then be viewed on a 3D enabled TV through the device’s HDMI port, directly on the device screen in red/blue anaglyph mode or uploaded to YouTube’s 3D channel. Out of all of the Honeycomb tablet’s I’ve played with the LG Optimus Pad was surprisingly the snappiest and smoothest even though they were all powered by the same nVidia Tegra 2 chipset. But I’ will obviously reserve my final judgment until the final retail products are released. Check out my hands-on video after the break:

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LG Optimus 3D Preview: Hands on video

Today LG officially unveiled the first smartphone featuring a glasses free 3D screen and also using TI’s OMAP4 4430 SoC to power whole thing. The LG Optimus 3D has a Dual-core Cortex A9 CPU coupled with a PowerVR SGX540 GPU, Dual Channel DDR2 memory and Dual Memory banks according to the company (3 Ds.. get it?). What you essential have here is one powerful smartphone that looks more like a experiment than a really fully thought out product. Why do I say that? Well, first off I’m really a fan of all things 3D (stereoscopic viewing) and the 4.3 inch Parallax Barrier screen only really works well when you view it at a certain angle and from a certain distance. But what really kills it is that everything displayed in 3D looks like a bloody low resolution mess on such a big panel. The parallax barrier also makes the screen look like plastic under certain angles. The other 3D feature of the Optimus 3D is the 2 5Mpix camera on the back that can shoot 720P 3D footage (in 2D the device can shoot in 1080P). Once again I’m not a big fan of this so you will have to try it out yourself and decide if it’s worth it. LG has collaborated with YouTube so you can directly upload the 3D videos shot with the Optimus 3D OTA to YouTube’s 3D channel via the built-in client on the device. LG has also developed a 3D stereoscopic UI that is toggle via a hardware button on the side of the phone. It’s a bit of a gimmick and definitely not a great UX.

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Enable Tethering on HTC Windows Phone 7 devices

As you have probably already noticed by now I usually only post about things that I personally think are worth talking about (that’s the beauty of having my own blog..) and this is why you won’t see me talk about every single homebrew Windows Phone 7 application popping up. Unless it’s something I think is really important like enabling tethering on HTC’s Windows Phone 7 devices. So if you have a developer unlocked device (you know..if you actually paid the $99) or if you just unlocked yours with the ChevronWP7 unlocker (which will definitely be rendered useless after the first OS Update) here is how to finally enable USB Tethering on an HTC Windows Phone 7 handsets:

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3D Brick Breaker Revolution for Windows Phone 7 Hands on video

3D Brick Breaker Revolution is a port of the iPhone game that was released a couple of years ago. If you have already played it on Apple’s platform that you should know hat to expect given that everything is identical in this newer version besides the Xbox Live integration (and the fact that it cost an outrageous $2.99 compared to$0.99 on the iPhone) . The only downside is that relatively low framerate which is really disappointing especially in such a basic 3D game. It doesn’t really show up in the video below but I assure you that it isn’t running at 30fps or even 25fps. The Marketplace quality control just failed here..or Microsoft just doesn’t care because even the game’s screenshots available in the Marketplace are just horrible grabs of the 3 years old J2ME java version and not representative of the actual Windows Phone 7 version! Anyway, Check out the video after the break:

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Ilomilo now available in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace: Hands-on video Review

All non-AT&T user rejoice! Ilomilo is now finally available to everybody in the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. The full game will set you bak $4.99 but you can also download the trial version to check it out. Don’t forget to also read my interview with developers Southend Interactive here. Check out my hands-on video after the break:

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Amazon Kindle for Windows Phone 7 review

It was just a few days ago that I was wondering when was Amazon going to launch the Kindle application for Windows Phone 7 given that the original press release stated that it will be out in the Marketplace before the end of the year. Well, it is finally  out now and free for you to download on your Windows Phone 7 device. So just head over here and grad while it’s hot and check out my hands-on video after the break:

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Revolution for Windows Phone 7 hands on video

Here’s a short video of the newly release Revolution for Windows Phone 7, which is the second Xbox Live enabled game released today (the first one being Rise Of Glory which you can see in action here). This isa cogs-based puzzle game composed of 75 levels and packed with achievements. As you will see in the video the only major issue is the lag which can be a bit distracting. The same issue is also present in the Halo Waypoint application released a couple of weeks ago (both are apparently using Silverlight..). Anyway, check it out after the break and then grab the trial version from the Marketplace (full game is $2.99):

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Rise Of Glory for Windows Phone 7 hands on video

Microsoft has just released two new Xbox Live enabled games today: Rise Of Glory and Revolution (both will set you back $2.99). I’ve just shot a video of Rise Of Glory running on the Samsung Omnia 7 to show you what the game is all about. As you will see this is a World War One flight shooter which definitely isn’t the best looking mobile game around  but the controls are framerate are really good ( but I kinda hoped that it was going to be a port of Skies of Glory on the iPhone which is the same game set in WWII). But there are some nice graphical touches like the specular highlight effect on the plane to simulated the sun’s reflection and also the fake bullet holes that appear the screen when you are being shot at. All in all the game is fairly good but could be even better if real-time multilayer gaming was possible on Windows Phone 7 (multiplayer dog fights similar to Crimson Sky…..). Check it out after the break:

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