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HolidayBuyer's Guide

HTC's useful lock screen

Motorola phones smarten up

Galaxy Note rocks the stylus

Is a phone or computer? Webtop is sort of both

HTC's hidden tricks

Android's early 3D attempt

More control over the Galaxy S II

Google published a patent last week that allows users to interact with a smartphone or PC to unlock the device and perform one command. Guess what? HTC already offers something very similar in Android phones using its latest version of Sense. Users can drag the virtual ring on the lock screen around one of four apps and instantly get taken to that function, whether it be the camera, calendar, or Angry Birds. It first debuted on the HTC Sensation 4G.
Caption by / Photo by Bonnie Cha/CNET
A little talked about feature which Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha is excited about is smart actions. The feature allows you to take complete control over your phone, tweaking settings based on locations like work or home, allowing your phone to "learn" how to act in certain places. All of a sudden your phone knows when to go into battery saver mode, when to look for a WiFi hotspot, or when to stay quiet.
Caption by / Photo by Motorola
Okay, so the HTC Flyer also had a tablet, but the Galaxy Note thankfully includes a built-in stylus--dubbed S-Pen--that you can store in the phone. Sure, the late Steve Jobs mocked the stylus as a tool for phones that couldn't stand on their own, but they do have their practical uses. Although it's still up in the air whether people will want to use the feature, Samsung has already demonstrated some cool uses for it.
Caption by / Photo by Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Give Motorola credit for trying to move smartphones closer to the PC environment. Its webtop feature allows select smartphones to dock with a laptop accessory, providing a computer-like experience complete with a full keyboard and touchpad. Now only if Motorola can get the price down.
Caption by / Photo by Motorola
Did you know you can set HTC smartphones to ring louder if they're in your pocket or purse? HTC phones offer a wealth of features it doesn't publicly brag about, but they're there. You can actually shut off a phone's ringer by flipping it on its face, or engage the speakerphone by flipping it back up. Pictured: HTC CEO Peter Chou holding up the Desire Z and Desire HD.
Caption by / Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET
Okay, so maybe 3D wasn't the hit it was supposed to be last year. But you have to hand it to Android partners like HTC and LG for pushing forward with the feature--even if there wasn't much content available. And it may have been headache inducing for some customers.
Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET
Samsung's Galaxy S II smartphone introduced a few new user interface tricks, integrating motion and gesture controls. Place two fingers on the screen, and tilt the phone to zoom in and out of the gallery or browser. Or flick your wrist left or right to move icons between home screens. It's a novel approach, although it's unclear how popular gesture controls ended up with users.
Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET
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