One week, three big press events, and no huge innovations. But that's cool: following the hottest industry trend this week, we're iterating to Engadget Podcast 308.1, the slightly-better version of last week's podcast, also known as Engadget Podcast 309.
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Nokia has been tuning up its Symbian Belle phones with new software over the past few days, but there's been one glaring exception: the 808 PureView. The camera-centered behemoth isn't far behind, though, as a handful of users have spotted and grabbed a 113.10.1506 OS update lurking on Nokia's servers before it was abruptly yanked. While Nokia hasn't confirmed details of the upgrade, those few who tried the download can vouch that it really is Belle FP2, or Belle Refresh. As such, it's bringing an overhauled keyboard with text prediction, new versions of the browser and music player apps, fresh widgets and no doubt a few under-the-radar bug fixes. It's hard to know if the update is final code, so we'd advise caution before loading up any unofficial copies you might find -- even so, it's a portentous sign for 808 owners who'd like to have a definitive instance of smartphone-grade Symbian before the platform rides into the sunset.
You may be familiar with EchoStar's satellite-based (Dish Network) and Sling Media (Slingbox) products, but the company also manufactures set-top boxes for third-party providers, as well as free-to-air services in the UK. It's this last grouping that'll be able to take advantage of the Android-based device we saw today, assuming it does in fact make its way to market. The HDX-410 runs native Ice Cream Sandwich, and is available in two versions -- one supports IP content and local storage exclusively, while a second can also accept terrestrial Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) programming, letting you play back live TV shows in addition to content from a local server, pulled from the web or stored on attached media or an inserted microSD card. It connects to the web using Ethernet or WiFi, and includes USB ports on both the front and the rear, Bluetooth, HDMI out, digital audio out and a standard-definition connection. It's also paired with a QWERTY keyboard-equipped remote manufactured by Philips with gyroscopic or directional-pad curser control, along with pinch/zoom gesture capability.
We had a chance to check out the ICS box at EchoStar's IBC booth today, where the device was running Android 4.0.4 and an early version of the company's hybrid app, which groups "favorited" content alongside terrestrial channels, letting you use the standard channel up/down button to navigate through stored TV shows, IP content or live programming quite seamlessly, as if all of the media was playing from the same source. It's clearly not yet ready for primetime, but the interface was sleek and speedy -- the set-top box performed very well overall. EchoStar reps were unable to confirm whether or not the HDX-410 would be coming to market at all, but they did add that the solution may be made available to third-parties in the future. Click past the break to take a closer look in our hands-on video.
A conversation with Nokia's Stephen Elop, as we had earlier this week, is quite an experience. He's kind, friendly, charming and obviously extremely passionate about everything Nokia -- but his PR deflector shields are always full-forward. Ask him a challenging question and you'll be greeted with a very gentle response that sounds like an answer but is actually just a deftly delivered retooling of some standard PR-friendly message you've probably already heard.
Interviewing Nokia SVP Kevin Shields is, as we've seen in the past, a somewhat more... direct experience. Why did Nokia go with a gloss finish on the 920 instead of the matte we loved on the 800 and 900? "Because it's awesome." How durable is the 920? "It's like a missile." How confident is he that wireless charging will take off? "We are all in." Shields was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time after Nokia's event this week to talk Lumia and to explain just what "PureView" means now that it's been applied to a second phone. Click on through to get educated.
Not to be outdone by Motorola and Nokia, HTC's quietly trying to steal some of the competition's thunder by unexpectedly outing a not-for-sale, fashion-driven variant of the One Xand now with the announcement that its 4.3-inch waterproof J handset will be heading to a couple more Asian markets. Of course, let's not forget the Taiwanese outfit also has something else to show us at an upcoming special event in NYC. But, regardless of what we'll "see next," the J's actually here -- well, in Japan -- and with eyes set on Hong Kong and Taiwan next, making this the first time that Sense 4-loaded device is headed outside the Land of the Rising Sun.
Just a quick recap: the HTC J comes with a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 MSM8660A, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, qHD PenTile OLED display, eight-megapixel camera and 1,810mAh battery. As for connectivity, you get quad-band GSM, WCDMA 2,100MHz, CDMA2000 800MHz and WiMAX 2.5-2.7GHz (for Japan and Taiwan only) radios, making it a fairly nice all-rounder albeit with limited regional compatibility for each of the faster connections. Oh, and about that waterproofing business: KDDI doesn't actually list it as a waterproof device, but HTC informed us that while the J meets global standards for waterproofing, it is not marketed as such in Japan due to particular criteria required by said carrier. We shall add more info here if HTC has more to say about this.
At any rate, Hong Kong folks will be able to pick up this waterproof device for HK$4,498 (about $580) unsubsidized, whereas Taiwan will have to wait until the press event next Tuesday for tariff details on Taiwan Mobile. For now, we got you a video of the J going for a swim after the break. You know, just for kicks.