Samsung Continuum: Tick, Tick, Tick

The ticker at the bottom can be configured to show
the date and time, the weather or other infornation.

So you’re in that big meeting and you’re bored stiff. You want to keep track of the calls you’re missing, your e-mail and the price of that stock you just invested in, but you don’t want to get caught poking at your cell phone every  other minute. For you there’s the Samsung Continuum, an Android smartphone billed as the first with its own customizable “ticker.”

The Continuum, the newest in the Samsung Galaxy S family of handsets with Samsung’s bright, sharp Super AMOLED display, arrives at Verizon Wireless stores Nov.18 but orders will be taken starting Nov. 11. The handset will sell for $200 with a two-year service plan after a $100 rebate. The Galaxy S family has already sold three million unit since its introduction this summer, according to Kim Titus, director of public relations for Samsung Telecommunications America.

Samsung Continuum ticker in music player mode with album art

Below the Continuum’s 3.4-inch main screen and four touch-sensitive Android keys (menu, home, return and search) is a thin piece of screen real estate at the very bottom set aside for a scrollable ticker. You can customize this 1.8-inch ticker so that it shows missed calls, incoming e-mail, stock prices, the weather or other bits of continuously updated information. And all you need to do get the ticker to reveal itself is to grip the handset at the bottom. Only the ticker section will come to life–the rest of the screen will remain dark, thus making it less likely that the chairman of the board will catch you checking your e-mail while the big meeting is still in progress.

Nick DiCarlo, Samsung

At a press conference in New York on Monday, Nick DiCarlo, director of product planning at Samsung Telecommunications America, said the Continuum was an example of “innovating on Android … in a way you’ve never seen till now.”

The point of the ticker is to allow you to get information without interrupting what you’re doing on the main part of the screen. For example, if you’re using your calendar app on the main screen, you can see the contents of an incoming text message in the ticker as it comes in without having to leave the calendar.

Thanks to the lightweight nature of the Super AMOLED screen technology, the Continuum is thin and light like the other handsets in the Galaxy S-family handsets. The Continuum will ship with Android 2.1, however, which means it won’t be able to handle Web videos and other features built with Adobe Flash 10.1 until it receives the Android 2.2 upgrade.

The unit can function as a Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing you to link up to five other devices to the Internet through the phone. Also included is a five-megapixel digital camera with HD video capabilities, stereo Bluetooth support for wireless accessories, a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and an eight-gigabyte removable memory card–which can be swapped for media with capacities up to 32 gigabytes.

Also preinstalled is Swype, a utility which lets you spell words on the on-screen keyboard by sliding your finger from key to key without lifting your finger from the screen.

On balance, the Continuum seems to be an admirable addition to the Samsung Galaxy S family, but it remains to be seen if the ticker feature will catapult it to the head of the pack.

Text and photos Copyright 2010, Stadium Circle Features

Samsung Galaxy Tab Does Adobe Flash

During a press conference last week for the newly announced Samsung Galaxy Tab, Kevin Lynch, chief technology officer at Adobe, showed off how the Android-based tablet can do something Apple’s iPad can’t: Play videos, games, web tools and other online content created with Adobe Flash.

The Galaxy Tab comes with the Android 2.2 operating system–the same used on popular Android smartphones–and comes with support for Adobe Flash 10.1.

During the Samsung press event in New York, Lynch showed how the tablet handled the video-heavy Major League Baseball website and a couple of Harry Potter online games.

The Galaxy Tab will debut with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon and a Wi-Fi-only version will be available later. The unit weighs well under a pound, has a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, 16GB of internal memory (expandable with memory cards), and a 7-inch screen.

Want to see more? My video of the Galaxy Tab in action is available at PC World.

Video and text Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

PayPal App Pops Up on Droid X: You’re Welcome

The PayPal mobile app showed up on Motorola’s Droid X last week. And I think I might be responsible.

For months I had been wondering why PayPal’s mobile application could be installed on all of the Android phones I’ve tested so far except Motorola’s popular Droid X for Verizon Wireless. It was easy enough to find the PayPal app in the Android Market with other Android handsets, including the original Droid (left in photo), but it wouldn’t show up if you searched for “PayPal” in the Android Market with the larger Droid X.

Last week PayPal held a nifty press event in New York to show off its close integration with the StubHub online ticket exchange and other sports-related services. I asked a couple PayPal representatives about the Droid X but no one knew why the PayPal app wouldn’t show up on it. I followed up the next day with an e-mail and was told the matter would be looked into.

The next morning I searched for PayPal on the Droid X and, much to my surprise, it was there. It installed without a problem and is very easy to navigate on the Droid X’s large, 4.3-inch display.
Kudos to PayPal for the quick action. And for those of you who may also have had the same problem: You’re welcome. (I also blogged about this on PC World.)

Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

Can The Kin Two Do HD Video? See For Yourself

 While none of the folks at the iPhone division of Apple will be losing sleep over the arrival of the new Kin One and Kin Two social networking cell phones from Microsoft, the phones do offer some useful features, including a nifty interface and quality digital cameras which double as camcorders.

  A key feature distinguishing the Kin One ($50 after rebate) from the Kin Two ($100 after rebate), is that the Kin Two (shown above) can record high-definition videos. So how well does it do HD? Compare these videos and judge for yourself.

  All were taken around New York City on May 4 in the hours after Microsoft and Verizon Wireless held a midtown press event to introduce the new phones, which will hit Verizon Wireless stores May 13.

Times Square in standard definition

Times Square in high definition.

Grand Central Station in standard definition.

Grand Central Station in high definition.

Photo courtesy of Microsoft and Verizon Wireless
Videos and text Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

Motorola Droid Lands at Verizon Wireless

You’ve seen the dark and stormy TV commercial teasing us about the device that’s going to do all sorts of nifty things that Apple’s iPhone can’t. Now it’s here–almost.

Motorola’s Droid smartphone , the first with version 2.0 of Google’s Android operating system, won’t arrive at Verizon Wireless stores until November 6, but the press received a preview this week at special events in New York and elsewhere.
My first look and complete review of the Droid are up at PC World .
Let me know what you think.
Text Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features. Photo courtesy of Verizon Wireless.

Smartphones for gift-giving

Looking for a new smartphone? Take a look at my latest piece in the New York Daily News for some guidance. And let me know what you think!