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CNET Tech Review: Fun with phones!

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CNET Tech Review: Fun with phones!

22:59 /

This week on the CNET Tech Review: RIM announces the BlackBerry Torch; we make jailbreaking easy; AT&T's Sharp FX is actually quite dull; and Android fans finally get a taste of Froyo.

-This week on the CNET Tech Review, we're crazy about phones. We've got a first look at the new Blackberry Torch, Froyo has arrived for Android phones, how to jailbreak your iPhone, and the Nissan Leaf isn't a phone at all. It's all coming up right now. Hi everyone! I'm Molly Wood and welcome to the CNET Tech Review where we round up the hottest videos of the week to tell you what's good and what's bad in the world of tech and offer our special brand of tech wisdom in the form of The Bottom Line. Let's start with the good. Blackberry is trying to come in to the modern world with a new OS that's all about touch screens and social networking and a brand new touch screen slider phone called the Torch. -Hi I'm Bonnie Cha, Senior Editor at cnet.com and I'm here with your first look at the RIM BlackBerry Torch. This was just announced today here in New York for AT&T and it's the first BlackBerry that's gonna launch with a Blackberry OS 6. We'll talk about some of those features in a bit, but let's look at the design first. On front, you've got a 3.2-inch capacitive touch screen and it's not using SurePress, so you don't have to clip down on it like the BlackBerry Storm. You can slide it up and there's a full QWERTY keyboard here, so people will like this. A couple of people will really like this. There is an onscreen keyboard both in portrait and landscape mode as well. On this side here, you've got your usual volume rocker and a customizable key as well as a 3.5-inch mm headset jack. On back, despite all this slithering, it's got this nice soft textured finish, so it feels very solid and you also got a 5-megapixel camera with flash and auto focus and it only records VGA video, so it's not really up to speed with other phones. As far the features, the BlackBerry OS 6 screens and main navigation bar here, so you can expand it to see all your apps and you can also swipe side to side to see different categories including media, download, frequently used apps, and again all your apps here. Other new features include a web browser. BlackBerry is really in need of a better browser, so this looks promising. It has tabbed browsing and the performance should be improved, should be faster. 3G, Wi-Fi, all available on the phone. You've also got a new multimedia experience that includes a Cover-like Flow interface, so you can browse through albums and your tracks by swiping back and forth. Other features include a new Social Feeds app that will bring in all your feeds from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and that sort. It also had the new BlackBerry App World 2.0, so that will have carrier billings, so you can bill your app purchases to your AT&T monthly bills. We're looking forward to checking this out more in depth when we get our review unit. It will be available starting August 12 for $199.99 and this has been your first look at the RIM BlackBerry Torch 9800 for AT&T. -Okay. Yes. The better browser and the touch screen are wonderful, but that hardware has a slow processor, a low-res screen and a VGA camcorder. Well, let's just say the Torch can't hold the candle to some of the competition. Har-har. You might have heard that Copyright Office of the Library of Congress recently declared it A-OK to jailbreak your phone. And legal or not, it didn't take long for those clever hacker types to come up with the super simple way to do it. But just because jailbreaking is now legal and easy, it doesn't mean you should actually do it. Brian Tong explains. -Jailbreaking your iPhone or iPod Touch just got a whole lot easier, and now according to the US Government, it's completely legal. I'm Brian Tong and I'm gonna show you how to jailbreak your iPhone and talk about the benefits and risks of doing so. Now, there are a variety of ways to jailbreak your device but the easiest way is by going to the website jailbreakme.com. This may or may not work depending on the version of firmware you have and the device you are using, so check out this handy guide at jailbreakmatrix.com to see if this method works for you. Once you're at jailbreakme.com, on your phone, all you have to do is slide to jailbreak to start the process. The jailbreak will start downloading to your phone so just leave it be and let it run through the install process. When it's ready you'll see a message saying Cydia has been added to the home screen. Press OK and then find the Cydia App. You can now launch Cydia. Select the User Option and it will take some time to download all of the content. The main benefit of Cydia is that it gives you access to apps and customizations that you cannot get through Apple's authorized App store. One risk you do take is that there's potential for running across malicious apps. Now, the Cydia app will also ask you to upgrade the database content, so follow the prompts to do that as well. Now, it's not against the law to jailbreak your phone, but it does void your warranty. So if you bring in a jailbroken phone to be serviced by Apple, you may be out of luck. One of the benefits of jailbreaking your iPhone 4 is now being able to use FaceTime over 3G with an app called My3G. So let's show you how to get that. Once the Cydia App is installed and up-to-date, search for RockApp and install it. Go to the menu screen and launch RockApp. You'll need to create a username and password, but let it update and then search for My3G. The app costs $3.99 but there is a 10-day trial that you can try out first. My3G tricks your phone by telling it that your 3G signal is a Wi-Fi signal and it will now allow you to use apps that you couldn't before over the 3G network. Once that is done, launch the app and you will be able to select which programs to use over 3G. FaceTime is enabled by default, as is YouTube, which lets you view cleaner and higher resolution videos instead of those junky mobile versions. One heads up is that, by tricking your phone to give you access to these features, you are still using your 3G data so be aware that this app might cause you to go over your data limits. Now, if you decide you no longer want to keep your phone jailbroken, you can always connect your phone back up to your computer on iTunes and restore the phone to bring it back to its original state. But there you have it. I'm Brian Tong with your how-to for Jailbreaking your iPhone or iPod Touch. Use it wisely. -So remember kids, jailbreaking voids your warranty unless of course you change it back and no ones the wiser, right? Luckily, you don't have to jailbreak your phone to enjoy some good music. In fact, no matter what smartphone you have, there's probably a music out for you and Brian Tong is back to tap them for you. -Oh, oh, oh. Welcome to Tap that App guys and I'm Brian Tong and this is the show where we cover the hottest apps in the mobile space. Now, today we're showcasing music apps for all three platforms, the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry because we really do want to show you Blackberry guys some love. Now when it comes to music streaming and discovery, the cream of the crop is Pandora. It's available on all three platforms and all you have to do is type in an artist, song, or composer. And it'll create music mixes from Pandora's servers with a similar sound and vibe. Now this is a must tap app for everyone. Now, if you're looking to get radio on your phone, the app for all three platforms is iHeartRadio. It's also free and it pulls from over 350 radio stations in the US. You can also tag songs and purchase them from iTunes. For iPhone users specifically, my recommendation is ooTunes. I know it's for $4.99 but this is my favorite radio app because it has wide arrays of talk radio stations and over 150 genres of music. Plus you can record, broadcasts, and it supports multitasking in iOS4 unlike iHeartRadio. Now what about song identification apps? Shazam is available for all three platforms and it's our favorite F word, free. Hold your phone up to a song played on the radio and it will do its best to identify it. It's easy to pick up and use and it's pretty amazing how well it works. But the song ID app that's our favorite here is SoundHound and it's available on both the iPhone and Android platforms. Not only can you hold it up to a song playing, but you could even hum or sing a song into it and it will give you results, -Love to you baby. -There's voice search to find songs and you also get lyrics, song, and artist information in this app that I love to tap. It's free for five searches per month or $4.99 for unlimited searches, and the iPhone version includes an iPad version of the app as well. So, there are your music apps that are tap-worthy to us. If you had any other show ideas, apps, or dance moves you'd like to see, send them along to us at tapthatapp@cnet.com. I'm Brian Tong, thanks for watching and we'll see you guys next time. -Oh, thank goodness, Brian Tong got a chance to sing. I would hate to have missed that. By the way, thanks to Brian Cooley for filling in for me while away last week. On that show, he showed you his test drive of Mitsubishi's electric car, the i-MiEV. Well, he must really be saving money on gas because this week, he's back with the Nissan Leaf. Here are some of the highlights. -2010 is shaping up to be the year of the EV's arrival. One of the big reasons for it, this car right here, the Nissan Leaf. We've talked specs, we've talked pricing, we've talked infrastructure. Those were all important topics. But you know where consumers really decided yeah or no on this guy? Then, we're gonna go to the show room and take you for a test drive. We're doing that right now. Let's go. Driving the front wheel is an 80-kilowatt motor, that's about a 107 horsepower, with 207-foot pounds of torque. Range is nominally a 100 miles, but that can vary a lot. Now, it can vary wildly depending on the climate, terrain, your driving style, use of the heater, air-conditioning, radio. If you're really nervous about range on a Leaf, wait until these guys have been on the market about 6 months. Let's see what real users find out. From dead empty it takes about 8 hours to charge a Leaf full up from a special Nissan charger you have installed to a 220 circuit in your house, and they recommend that. You can't just plug in to our dryer outlet, that's against code. You can plug in to a standard 110 outlet, but by the time the car is charged, your kids have grown up and had their own children. It's like 14 hours plus; 110 is really just for tapping up. Now once it gets started here, interesting feature. I've pushed this little button and a little arrow inside of a circle. It brings up kind of the old SAC bomber range map there on the map, but that's not showing my bomb range, it's actually showing my charge get to range. There is one that's a definite, and there is one that's absolutely using up all my power. And then around there, I've some icons to show where I can charge up as well. So, there are several ways to get over the anxiety of a car that faces a whole lot and harder to fill up than a gas-engine car. Now Nissan crossed a lot about how this car has, almost a luxury feel to it. You see, they put a lot of time and effort into it being very well-planted, quiet and refined in the way that it drives. And I'll be honest with you all electric cars will surprise you with the level of effortlessness that they portray. When you don't have gears that are changing in the gearbox and pistons going up and down, and cams and lobes whacking against valves, things that you don't really notice consciously, when those go away, a car feels almost like a magic carpet. Electric cars are amazing that way in general. Okay, after a short drive just around the city like this, I can tell you a few things: first of all, this is a real car that has a solid, value-oriented presence to it. It doesn't feel like you gotten some kind of a circus buggy. Now, what are you paying for that? Almost $33,000 base, but then come the deductions: $7500 from the Feds, $5000 from your state if you're in California, Georgia, a couple of other states. Now, we're down to the low 20's. Now, we've got pretty much a bonafide steel for cutting edge technology and a completely new drivetrain and power supply. The question is, how does charging work for you in your driving standards, do those tax credits stay in place, at least long enough for Nissan to bring cost out of this car and bring its MSRP down low without supporting rebates from other entities. It's a very different picture with this kind of vehicle. We'll know more as we get a full review on the Nissan Leaf soon. -For more of Brian's review of the Leaf, head over to cnettv.com for the full video, and while you're there, see if you can figure out who this guy is? I hope he doesn't come with the car. And while you work on that, I am going to take a break, but we'll be back with a couple of good products gone bad right after this. Welcome back to the CNET Tech Review our weekly video digest of all things good and bad that we've seen here at CNET TV and the time has come for this week's dose of the bad. As we mentioned earlier, RIM launched the Torch for AT&T and even that was kind of a bummer. But if you don't want anything that fancy, we dare you to try the Sharp FX. I'm Jessica Dolcourt, Senior Associate Editor at cnet.com and I'm taking a first look at the Sharp FX from AT&T. Now, this is what AT&T calls a quick-messaging phone which means that it has a full QWERTY keyboard for easy typing. But the FX also has a 3-inch touch screen display which you can navigate through 3 screens of options in a very iPhone-like icon arrangement. We did find the responsiveness a bit laggy however. Below the screen are the Talk and the End buttons and a multifunctional center button that serves as with the Back key. And it also has an application switcher. On the right, there is a dedicated camera button and a lock button. On the left, you will find the volume rocker, the Micro-USB charging port, and the 3.5-millimeter headset jack. On the back, is the 2.0-megapixel camera and behind the back cover is where you'll see the microSD card slot. They can accommodate up to 32 GB of additional memory. The Sharp FX is a nice looking phone with a glossy black face and a smooth matted back. It's pretty angular and fairly hefty. We found our model to be a little loose but the sliding action of the keyboard felt secure. The keyboard itself is fine to use and we didn't experience many missed presses. Inside the FX, is all about communications. They're support for webmail accounts, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. There are also some games onboard, the att.net browser, a music player, and Bluetooth support. In addition, you'll find subscription, AT&T services like AT&T music which has both streaming music and a music ID app. You'll see AT&T Navigator for turn by turn directions, and this one for those TV addicts out there, AT&T Mobile TV. But the Navigator and the TV subscription go for about $10 per month. There's also a feature called Video Share which let's you broadcast streaming or prerecorded video to another caller who also has a Video Share capable phone. The FX is a 3G world phone which means that you can use it in Europe and North America. Unfortunately, the call quality was mediocre and sometimes poor. We also noticed a lot of background hissing. We like the social features, but we wouldn't recommend it for those who enjoyed long voice conversations. The Sharp FX costs $99.99 with an online discount, a new 2-year service agreement, and a $20 minimum messaging or messaging and data plan. I'm Jessica Dolcourt and this has been the Sharp FX for AT&T. -Great phone if you like to type, but not if you wanna make calls. That seems like kind of the trend lately. Next up on the naughty list is a set of headphones from something called Jays and yeah I don't know what that is either, but according to Jasmine France, I will be just fine without them. -This is a product that needs to be loud and flashy to be stylish. Not me, that's for sure. And it would appear that Swedish headphone manufactures Jays agrees with me. I was like that. The evidence is clear with the A-Jays Three Earphones that I have right here. These reasonably priced in-ear buds offer flat black look that's understated enough to appeal to just about anyone without being completely boring. This is thanks namely to the flattened disc earpieces and ribbon-style cable that descends from them. In addition to the fashionable look, the A-Jays Three offers some handy extras in a package including this hard-sided carrying case and the rarely seen headphones splitter accessory. Even better, the earphones will only set you back 60 bucks and they sound quite impressive with a thumpy and responsive low-end and warm mids. My only complain with this is the comfort and it's a big one. These earbuds were painful for me to wear after less than 30 minutes and actually chaffed the insides of my ear. A bit strange considering how very tiny they are. Still, this won't be an issue for everyone. So if you're looking for inexpensive earbuds that look and sound good, this will do the trick. I'm Jasmine France and this has been a first look at Jays A-Jays Three Earphones. -Poor Jasmine. How many of our other editors have to endure chaffing while testing products? She is a trouper. And now it's time for this week's Bottom Line. It's no secret around the office that I have been having cravings for Froyo both the tasty frozen confection and the operating system. But while I'm still waiting for somebody to bring me some Pinkberry, at least I can get the Android update. -Hi! I'm Kent German, Senior Editor here at cnet.com. Today, I'm gonna take a first look at the Android 2.2 Froyo update on the HTC EVO 4G. Like most of our Android updates, Froyo will arrive in batches, so not everyone is gonna get it at the same time. When you do get it, you'll see notification on your screen. They will ask you to download it, install it, or restart your phone, and you'll be ready to go. But if you can't wait, go on to your settings menu, find your system updates option and then check for HTC software update. You will then manually check for the update and you should be able to download them. Froyo adds a lot of new features, so it's pretty exciting. I'm gonna walk you through some of them. But I'm gonna lead off with 2 of the biggest things that I think come with Froyo. Now, for a long time, we've been complaining of the 2 biggest drawbacks of Android, are it didn't allow you to store apps on the external memory and you couldn't do any voice dialing over Bluetooth. Fortunately, Froyo fixes both of those. It's really, really great. I hooked up a Bluetooth headset and make sure your headset of course supports voice dialing over Bluetooth. Just hit the headset as you normally would and you can dial by number or by contact names. So it worked pretty well. On the app storage front, yes you can take an app and you can install it on the external memory card. All you need to do is you'll just go into the settings menu. Click the applications. Go to manage applications. We'll go on to the Google Sky Maps that we've downloaded. Hit that, and you see there's a button for moving to SD card. And then once you have it there and you wanna move it back, we'll just go to this Paper Toss. You could see those are move to the phone. So, transferring it back and forth is pretty easy. So really, really nice to see both of those options. But that's not all, Froyo does add a lot of interesting features. In the camera application, you're gonna see those icons that sit on the viewfinder. But just kind of rotate as you rotate the phone, so they're always gonna be in the same place in the display. It's just that they're gonna always be right side up, so kind of a minor issue but still nice I think. Another thing is you can use the flash now for video recording. It will be great for low light conditions and for the dark, so a nice picture there as well. Similar to how you can use the camera flash as a light through a video recorder, you now can use a camera flash as a flashlight, so there's a special icon right on the screen, and the flash will actually go to three brightness settings just by tapping the screen. You can now share applications. To access that, you just go to the main menu. There's an app sharing icon up at the top. You could choose the application you want, which is that Paper Toss again, and you can choose a variety of methods to share. You can use e-mail. You can use Bluetooth. You can use a message. You can use Facebook. So, let's say we're just gonna go on to e-mail. Your friend will get an e-mail that just tells them they receive the app and it will give them a link to the Android market to download it, so interesting touch there. With Facebook once you sign in to your Facebook account with your phone, you have a couple of interesting things. You can go to get your events and your friends' birthdays in a calendar. It's my friend's neighbors' birthday today, so it can tell me that. And you can go in and see if you've been invited to a party or anything like that. You can just see it right in your calendar. So it's nice. You don't have to go on your Facebook account application, open anything there and find it. When you look at your Friend Stream feature, which of course, is that HTC application that shows you all your status updates and Twitter, tweets from friends. Let's say someone's, you know, commented on somebody else, you can go and actually add them as a friend only in the Friend Stream applications. You don't have to open Facebook again, so a couple of shortcuts there. The FM radio now has a new interface. It's very clean and user friendly and I continue to really like the menu where you can go in and just go right to that station you want, tap it, rather than having to scroll like you would in your car where you hit the knob, so it's a nice thing. Open the photo gallery application. You can now access Facebook photos that you've posted on your account or your friends. I can go and I can look at all the photos from my trip to Boston earlier this year. If I want, I can even go in and comment on those photos or I could go to my friend's photos and comment on them as well. I can centralize everything, so it saves me a few steps, which is a nice touch. And another change when you're using the main Google search, you'll see that Google icon here in the corner, tap that and you see you can search for everything, so that means your apps, anything on the phone, and web results. You can search for only web results and you can only search for apps, so just a great way to narrow your results if you like. A couple of other features that Froyo offers, it does have a faster JavaScript engine. It has Flash 10.1 for the web browser so that should help your viewing. You can set alphanumeric passwords, so you don't have to just use a number, you can use letters and numbers. When you have an alarm clock, you could set the volume level, so it's nice that you don't have to, you know, be completely jump out of bed if it's too loud. You can send a contact. There's a B card and text message as well. So some pretty good features here. But of course, voice dialing over Bluetooth and saving apps in memory cards are too of best things. I'm Kent German and this is the Android 2.2 Froyo update on the HTC EVO 4G. The bottom line this week, Froyo. Finally! You know what I did when I got it, I updated all my apps at the same time with one little button. It was glorious. And that's our show for this week everyone. Join us next week when we'll be back with a brand new tech review. Until then. There's tons of great videos available everyday at cnettv.com. See you next time and thank you for watching.
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