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CNET Tech Review: Everything's coming up Android

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CNET Tech Review: Everything's coming up Android

24:22 /

This week on the CNET Tech Review: Samsung's Android tablet is unveiled; keyboard shortcuts for your Android keyboard; and it's Epic vs. Evo in a 4G prizefight.

-This week on the CNET Tech Review, it's a regular 4G orgy in this week's prizefight, Samsung shows off the Galaxy Tab, Sharon's got shortcuts for your Android keyboard, and behind the scenes of Hawaii Five-0. It's all coming up right now. Hey, everyone. I'm Brian Tong and welcome to the CNET Tech Review. Molly's off this week, but I'm here to collect our hottest videos and tell you what's good and what's bad in the world of tech and offer some unique tech wisdom in the form of the Bottom Line. Let's start off with the good stuff. Earlier this month, Samsung debuted the Galaxy Tab, their Android-based tablet, at the IFA Electronics Show in Berlin. Then, late last week, the Galaxy Tab finally made its way to US shores at a press event in New York City. Dan Ackerman was there to greet the Tab with open arms. -I'm Dan Ackerman here at the Samsung Experience Showroom in New York City where we're talking about the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Now this is the tablet that's everyone's pretty excited about because they're pitching it as really the first serious contender to Apple's iPad in the very new and very exciting tablet space. Most of what we heard here today was kind of a reiteration of things we already knew about the Samsung Galaxy Tab, that it has a 7-inch screen, that it's got a 1 GHz processor, that it's kinda roughly on par with what you find in Apple's iPad, that the base model has 16 gigs of hard drive space with a micro SD card slot so we can add more memory later, and that it's gonna run Android version 2.2. Some of the new stuff we saw today was a demonstration of Flash. We saw some Flash video working fine. WE saw some Flash games working fine. Later, when we grab the demo unit, we tried Farmville, probably the most popular Flash game out there and found that it did not work on the demo tablet they had set up here, and we also saw the face-to-face video chat using that front facing camera on the Galaxy tablet. The video chat worked, the picture quality and the frame rate was a little bit choppy but these were early demo units. One of the few new bits of news here was the confirmation of the phone carriers that are gonna sell this device. They're really the ones you'd expect, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. This is only going to be a 3G device only, there's no 4G version even for carriers that are gonna have 4G, at least for now and that face-to-face video chat only works over Wi-Fi so you don't have to worry whether that's gonna be 3G or 4G. Possibly the most interesting bit of new news here was the Samsung Media Hub service that they're about to launch. That's almost their version of iTunes where you're gonna be able to rent and purchase movies and purchase TV shows and stream them to your Samsung Galaxy device and there's also going to be a PC client for that and once you purchase a piece of content, you'll be able to download it on to five different devices that you own and have registered to the same account. Possibly the most notable bit of news here tonight was what they did not announce, no availability date and no pricing for the Samsung Galaxy tablet just yet. I'm in New York City at the Samsung Experience, I'm Dan Ackerman. -So will the Galaxy Tab be an iPad killer? It's far too early to tell but the iPad itself has been threatening to kill lots of other devices since it came out last year. Here's Molly Wood with the top five gadgets that the iPad is threatening with extinction. -You've got an iPad, now let's see what you don't need. I'm Molly Wood filling in for Brian Cooley who swears he's not having any fun at all on his work trip to Hawaii. Uh huh. Anyway, I'm here with the CNET Top 5, Things You Don't Need If You Have an iPad. Not our opinion. This is based on a survey by Resolve Research that looked at people who owned an iPod. The number 5 thing they felt they didn't need anymore was the gaming console. Hmm. Maybe they just don't understand what a gaming console can actually do. Then again, Angry Birds is $5 and Halo Reach is $60, so I kinda see what they're getting at. At number 4 is an iPod or other MP3 player. Twenty-nine percent of iPad owners are apparently willing to juggle this giant thing as a portable music player. My guess, that 29% doesn't include a single person who listens to music at the gym. Otherwise, those are some serious sweaty iPads. Okay, at number 3, things start to get believable, with 32% saying they no longer need a laptop or a netbook. Fair enough. A lot of people do lug a laptop around mostly for web and e-mail, and the iPad pretty much kills it there except for Flash and editing a Google doc and like a camera for web conferencing. I guess that's why it's still only 32%. Number 2 is where knees start knocking over at Sony and Nintendo because 38% of iPad owners say no thank you to a portable gaming device. Yeah. I think something about a thin responsive tablet with a touchscreen the size of a half a dozen PSPs is rather compelling and their survey was done before Apple even announced Game Center. Now before we get to the number 1 thing people won't buy because they have an iPad, notice that a full 37% of the iPad owners in this study were totally new to Apple. They had never before accepted the little paper cup of Kool-Aid from the nice man in the jeans and the black turtleneck. Well, until now. Okay, the number one thing the iPad sends straight to the museum is--the e-book reader. If you have a kindle, a Nook, or a Kobo, know that fully 49% of iPad owners think you're nice but not too bright. It doesn't help that Amazon and Barnes and Noble have great reader apps for the iPad, and why carry two readers when you can only carry one? That also has Angry Birds. Now, sure, the iPad isn't the best at much of anything except being an iPad, but if these numbers are any indication, good enough might be good enough if there's enough you're good at, or whatever. I'm Molly Wood and you can find all the CNET Top 5 videos at cnettv.com or at CNETtv.com on your iPad. Yeah. Check it out. -Now, I do love my iPad but there is no way I'm giving up my PS3 just yet, at least until there's an iPad version of Def Jam Rapstar Playa. And, as Molly mentioned, she was covering the top 5 while Brian Cooley was in Hawaii. While he was there, Brian got a taste of some of the tech used behind the scenes and in front of the camera on the brand new version of Hawaii Five-0. Take a look. -When you think of the original Hawaii Five-0, you don't think cutting edge technology. -The convoy's 10 miles west of your position. -But the new Hawaii Five-0 is modern day law enforcement where technology is key. -I can have your family here within a week. -We're supposed to be above and beyond the normal police force, so we're gonna have a lot of toys, a lot of gadgets and up-to-date materials. -Main force location, the 50th state, Hawaii Five-0 is a fictional police force but the team has Mike Cho, a long-time Honolulu PD veteran, keeping them legit with their story lines and real police technology. -This is actually accurate. The little earplugs that they wear when they communicate with each other when they're on a stakeout or they're actually going in after a bad guy or something like that. HPD has it. -A lot of TV shows use dummy props but Five-0 isn't one of them. the weaponry on this show is real, and in fact would be the envy of many of the world's militaries. Greg Edgar is the show's armorer. -This represents obviously cutting edge stuff. -This is. This is, you know, Daniel Dae Kim called this a space gun but-- -It looks like it, right? -It does. -Part of this reboot of Hawaii Five-0 includes sophisticated visual techniques, hardly imagined when the original ran from 1968 to 1980. -Who found the body? -Action remains the backbone of the new Five-0 and making things blow up, crash, or bleed is the work of Mclain Ahuna, a third generation Hawaiian special effects expert. -It's fun, it's dangerous yet but it's good fun-- -Good, clean dangerous fun, yeah. And fans of the original Five-O are also gonna love this reboot for another reason--lots of reality here in Hawaii, the real thing. And, of course, photography is a star of this show, but not all of it is shot with the big cameras and heavy equipment you think of on a TV set. In fact, some of it's captured with gear you may own. -We're now using the Sony EX3s, a camera about this big, a prosumer, and then DSLR Canon 5Ds. They do such a good job that I'm using them for actual drama scenes and dialog. -From the theme to the tech, this is a very new Hawaii Five-0 but some things just couldn't change. -Welcome, Daniel. -Whoo. Boy. Tough assignment, BC. Now maybe you could start using that rear projection setup for your car tech pieces. Okay, football fans. The new season is in full swing and I love seeing an NFL game live but it can be hard to see all that action from my nosebleed seats. Luckily, Scott Stein may have found a solution. -Hi, I'm Scott Stein, senior associate editor at CNET.com and this is FanVision. Now, if you're an NFL fan or you're a season ticket holder, specifically, and you go to games, there's a good chance that you're not getting a chance to hear what's going on in the game or be able to get instant replays like you're getting at home. It's great to be at the game but you get locked out of a lot of the features that you're getting used to sitting in front of your computer and watching at an HDTV. Well, enter a device like FanVision. These are available this year in 12 NFL stadiums to start and they cost $199 for the unit. What that gets you is a year of service at the home games for this year. You get to keep the device and then next year, there will be a licensing fee per game per stadium, they'll work that out. But what it gets you when you're in the stadium is the live feed of the game itself, the one that you're sitting watching, but you can also see if you're in TV view, plus you can watch a couple of other games around the league that are relevant to the game like divisional matchups. You can hear audio feed of the game that's being played and you get instant replays by hitting a dedicated button up here that will show instant replays for each play from up to five different field views. Now, the device actually works as a-- if you wanna get under the hood, as a UHF television. It works over a local UHF channel in the stadium and beams this device streaming it in there, giving you all the video feeds. Now, why that matters, if you've ever tried using your smartphone in a lot of stadiums, it doesn't work at kickoff. Usually 3G and other bands get overwhelmed and Wi-Fi is usually not that reliable either. Now, this device might look like it came from 2002 before the iPhone or the smartphones existed, but that is almost the kind of the appeal of it. It's definitely durable, feels pretty shock proof and it's a little bit-- feels a little bit beer and stadium resistant. It has a screen that's 4.3 inches that looks good even in bright light and it has a dedicated headphone jack plus it comes with a pair of noise isolating earbuds that works pretty well even in loud stadium environments. The unit's not exactly pocket size but it does come with this little clip on lanyard that you can wear around your neck. Might look a little silly but it's actually kinda useful, and, hey, you can take it to the bathroom with you and watch the game there. Now, when I was at the game, I used the instant replay button to bring up the plays 'cause I'm gonna watch the game itself but what's really cool about this device is it works pre and post game, even in the parking lot, because of the UHF range, so if you're tailgating or you're walking out of the stadium afterwards, you can actually catch the postgame conference or watch other games before the game. This service runs from the 1 o'clock games up to the end of the 4 o'clock games, you can follow NFL so it's a pretty wide range of content and with the six-hour battery life, that will last through the game plus give you enough of that window. We found that the battery life lasted just enough to be able to work for us. Whether it's worth $199, well, when you consider the price of $9 beers and other concessions including very expensive tickets, it might be worth your while, especially if you got a couple of people going to the game with you, as a fun device that'll work a lot better than your smartphone will. In certain stadiums, these are being given out with the highest end tickets. At the Jets games, the top 5000 PSL season ticket holders will actually get these units for free this year. Other people are gonna have to pay $199, but, even though there are only six games left, it might be an interesting value for some. I'm Scott Stein and this is FanVision. -Unfortunately, FanVision isn't available for my beloved 49ers just yet, but maybe next year. Okay, guys, it's time to take a break but we'll be back with a couple of handy how-to tips right after this. Welcome back to the CNET Tech Review, our weekly video digest of all things good and bad we've seen here at CNET TV. Continuing on with the good, coming up later in the show, I've got a whopper of a prizefight between two 4G Android phones, and I don't wanna spoil anything but one of them has a pretty sweet keyboard that you could take advantage of with these keyboard shortcuts. -You're probably already familiar with keyboard shortcuts. Control + Z to undo, control + S to save, you know the drill. But shortcuts aren't just for computers. Android phones equipped with keyboards also have some built-in tricks that you could be using. I'm Sharon Vaknin from CNET.com here with some handy keyboard shortcuts for Android phones. Just like on your computer keyboard, most of these shortcuts require holding down one key like Shift or Function and then pressing another key to complete your command. If your keyboard doesn't have a Function key, use the Alt key instead. Let's start with some basics in the Home screen. To open your browser, hold down Search then press the letter B. To access your e-mail, it's Search + E. See the pattern? B, browser; E, e-mail. You got it, and Search + S opens your text messaging or SMS. You can also change these shortcuts or add new ones by going to Settings, Applications, then Quick Launch. I've configured Search + N to open my notes so let's do that. While we're here, let's play around with some typing shortcuts which can save a lot of time when text messaging and writing e-mails. You know that Shift capitalizes a letter. Well, press Shift twice and you'll turn caps lock on. To quickly move to the beginning of a line, hit Function and arrow left. If your Android phone has a trackball, trackball left instead, and, as you've probably already guessed, Function and arrow right moves your cursor to the end of a line. Okay. Let's bring you to expert level with some browser shortcuts. Menu + J goes back a page, and Menu + K goes forward a page. If you need to refresh the page, hit Menu + R. This next shortcut is awesome especially since the iPhone doesn't have it. Hit Menu + F to find something on the page. Another useful one is Menu + E which puts you into select mode on a page. Android also has some fun GMail shortcuts. If you already use them on your computer browser, then you should know that they're exactly the same on your phone. Press R to reply to the current message while A replies to all. Press C to compose a new message and U to refresh your inbox. Lastly, if you have a long list of e-mails, Function and arrow up jumps to the top of your inbox and, you guessed it, Function + arrow down jumps to the bottom of your inbox. Now that you know how to work the keyboard, go impress your friends, and if you want to learn even more shortcuts for your Android phone, check out my post on our Android Atlas blog for a complete list. For CNET.com, I'm Sharon Vaknin and I'll see you next time. -We'll talk more good Android stuff in a bit, but first, it's time to take a look at the bad. One thing I really hate is when I'm browsing through my iTunes library and a bunch of the album art is missing. Luckily, there's a way to fix that and Donald Bell is gonna tell you all about it. -Hey, I'm Donald Bell and today I'm going to show you the easiest, fastest way to fill in missing album art in your iTunes library. We all have songs in our collection that, when they appear on your iPad or your iPhone, give you that lame, generic album cover. The problem is you can never remember what songs those were when you sit back at your computer and you wanna go fix them. So here's the trick. Go to the file menu in iTunes and select New Smart Playlist. For the first condition, make sure that the media kind is set to music. Next, create a rule where the "Has Artwork" condition is set to false. Hit OK and now you've got a listing of all the songs in your library that are missing album art. Now, to fix up these songs and give them album art, first see if iTunes can do it automatically. Select all the tracks in the list, head up to the advanced menu and select "Get Artwork." ITunes will scan your library and fill in all the artwork that it can and automatically remove those songs from this list. For the songs that are left over, you can right click on any track, select "Get Info," and drag a Google Image search result for the artwork into the artwork tab. But doing this for each individual song is kinda tedious. Instead, sort by album and select all the albums tracks at once and then right click to get info. Drag the artwork out of your browser, hit OK and you can update all the songs at once. Now, one last trick. If all the songs that are left over on your list are just a random assortment of freebie downloads, DJ mixes, and other odds and ends, you can just kill them all with one fun image and be done with it. Do a select all on all the remaining songs on your playlist, right click to get info, and drag any image you like into the artwork square. It might not be the perfect match for that song, but at least you'll be rid of the generic iTunes artwork. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell. -Finally. I can find my Justin Bieber albums when I need them. Let's just move along to this week's Bottom Line. 4G is finally becoming available in more locations. In fact, people here in SF have been reporting seeing signs of 4G coverage this week. So, there's no better time to pit the two most popular 4G Android phones against each other in a prizefight for the ages courtesy of yours truly. What's up, prizefight fans? I'm Brian Tong and this is a blockbuster battle between two fearsome 4G phones here in the US. It's a prizefight punchout between the Samsung Epic 4G and the HTC Evo 4G. Our judges for this fight are senior editor Kent "The K.O. King" German, senior associate editor Nicole "Ice Cold" Lee, and Brian "Wham-Bam" Tong. Now, we'll take all three judges' blind scores and average them out to the nearest tenth each round. The final prizefight score will be an average of all rounds using the same decimal system. It's Samsung versus HTC in a five-round 4G fracas. Round one is sexiness. Samsung's Epic 4G is arguably the sexiest QWERTY keyboard phone we've seen with its clean curved edges and super smooth booty. Its AMOLED screen just pops but when you bring a keyboard, you're also bringing some bulk. HTC's Evo 4G is sleek and slim. Its 4.3-inch screen dominates but it's not as sharp as the Epic 4G. Its width can still make it a little awkward to hold but there's no denying that this is the sex. The Evo 4G gets the 4.7 and the Epic 4G gets a 4.3. Round two is navigation. Samsung's Epic 4G brings the best of both worlds with one of the roomiest slideout keyboards ever. It has a responsive touchscreen to boast and I like how the background moves while you're Swyping. You can also use the Swype feature on the virtual keyboard so this guy pretty much has it all. HTC's Sense UI is still our favorite flavor of Android with its easy navigation and polished look and feel. A quick hit of the Home button reveals all your panels and its custom scenes for different profiles is sweet, but our judges liked the versatility of a keyboard combined with a touch screen and the Epic 4G takes this round with a 4.7 and the Evo 4G gets a 4. So, after averaging two rounds, the Epic 4G leads by one-tenth of a point. Round three is features. Both phones are as feature packed as you can get, with 4G and 3G connectivity, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, wireless hotspot capabilities, turn-by-turn directions, voice search and commands, and everything else in Android's goodie bag. Samsung's Epic 4G brings the Swype feature and sending messages will never be the same for you, plus its notifications drop down gives you quick access to key services no matter what you're doing. The Evo 4G differentiates itself with features that really count. It has a superior 8-megapixel camera, HDMI port for video out, the latest Froyo update, and you might remember that legendary kickstand. The judges all agree here and the Evo 4G gets a perfect 5 and the Epic 4G gets a 4. Next round is multimedia and web browser. The Epic 4G's web browser delivers a solid experience and multitouch works smoothly. It has a 4-inch screen that just pops, especially when comparing the same video files on both screens. Now you'll have the ability to purchase TV shows and movies in the future through the Samsung Media Hub and its 5-megapixel camera is packed with shooting modes while its music player is still old school Android. Now, the HTC Evo 4G brings a bigger 4.3-inch screen, and in this case, size does matter. The web browser supports Flash 10.1 but it's still not there yet. Its 8-megapixel camera takes great pictures and its media player benefits from the Sense UI visuals but if there was any phone that was made to act like a mini TV, this one might be it. The Evo 4G takes round four with another perfect 5 and the Epic 4G gets a 4.3. So, after averaging four rounds, HTC takes the lead by four-tenths of a point, but this one's not over yet and the final round that decides it all is call quality. Call quality can be different depending on where you are but we were impressed with the overall sound of both phones even though they did have a few minor flaws. The Epic 4G was really clear. Even if the sound was a little more tinny and hollow, people on the other side of the line said there was a slight hiss. Now, the Evo 4G has always been one of the best sounding phones to my ears even if I heard a few subtle pops and the judges all agree. HTC comes out on top with a 4.7 and the Epic 4G gets a 4.3. So, let's average out all five rounds and, in a prizefight where the Epic 4G led after two, the Evo 4G stormed back and takes this battle, 4.7 to 4.3, and your prizefight winner. If you're a freak for 4G, you can't go wrong with either phone and it really just might be the keyboard that decides it all for you. I'm Brian Tong, thanks for watching, we'll catch you guys next time for another prizefight. The Bottom Line this week, not so epic now, are you? Now, like I said, the keyboard might push you towards the Epic but in the end the Evo 4G emerged victorious, but if you've got 4G in your neighborhood and you don't mind paying an extra $10 a month to use it, you really can't go wrong with either one of these phones. Well, folks, that's our show but join us next week when we'll be back with the new Tech Review. Until then, there are tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com. See you next time and thanks for watching.
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