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Rumor: Motorola prepping a pair of quad-core smartphones for early 2012

Might this be the Motorola 'Bullet', a rumored quad-core Android smartphone?

We may still be in the first half of 2011, but that doesn't mean we can't start talking about devices rumored for next year. Droid-Life is reporting that it has received preliminary specs for a pair of Motorola handsets that likely won't arrive until 2012. And, as one might expect, the hardware is leaps above the stuff hitting shelves today.

Both smartphones, the Bullet and Jet, should be 4G LTE capable for Verizon's network. What's more, the handsets will be among the first to offer Nvidia's new quad core "Kal-El" Tegra 3 chipset.

The Bullet should feature a 4.3-inch qHD display, at least 1GB DDR2 RAM, 16GB internal storage, and a 12-megapixel camera. The touch-screen handset also will feature an NFC chip, which suggests Android 2.3 at the very least.

The Jet has a similar design, but will feature a QWERTY keyboard and a slightly smaller, 4-inch screen. It's worth noting that the camera in each device is rumored to include a new sensor, which could result in better images and bigger picture. According to reports, the Bullet will be on the market prior to the Jet, although both are expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2012.

Droid-Life has followed up with a picture of an Android phone that could be one of the two rumored handsets. According to the blog's latest information, Motorola is working on at least four models with similar specifications to the Jet and Bullet. Looking at the image, we can see a Micro-USB port and an HDMI output on a handset that somewhat resembles the current Droid X.


How the iPad changes PC design

Consumers prefer light to heavy. Thin to thick. And that's why more laptops will begin to imitate the internals of the iPad.

Reason # 1 -> Flash Memory : The iPad (not to mention the iPhone) is a major force driving flash memory development and production. Apple obviously has a thing for flash (so much so that headlines periodically appear about its ravenous for the silicon delicacy).

Laying down a solid-state drive (aka flash drive) on the main system board can alone make for a much smaller, lighter design (see photos). Want more proof? Just look at this teardown of 2011 MacBook Pro to see the relatively large size of a standard magnetic hard disk drive.

And witness what's been occurring over the last couple of weeks. Flash memory and solid-state drive manufacturers like Micron-Intel, Toshiba, and SanDisk have all been tripping over themselves to announce denser flash memory. Here's what Micron Technology said : "Intel and Micron...expect to unveil samples of a 16GB device, creating up to 128GBs of capacity in a single solid-state storage solution that is smaller than a U.S. postage stamp."

Translation: next year denser, less expensive flash drives and solid-state drives. And, I predict, more laptops like the Air and Samsung's Series 9. Though higher-performance solid-state drives will likely never rival the gigabyte-per-dollar economics of the magnetic HDD, they will finally come down enough in price that 256GB (or larger) solid-state storage won't be a barrier to mainstream market designs in the last half of 2012.

The iPad 2's main circuit board: More ultra-portable laptops will mimic the iPad's internals.


The 2010 MacBook Air's main board, like the iPad's, packs a lot into a small space. 
And, come to think of it, the Air preceded the iPad (and the iPhone arrived before both).


Reason # 2 -> Processors : as manufacturing technology advances, small, power-efficient ARM chips will gain in performance and land in more feature-rich personal computing devices. Designs like Apple's A5 (and future A6) and Nvidia's Tegra are already taking on some of the characteristics of PC processors (two cores with symmetric multiprocessing). At the other end of the spectrum, Intel is racing to get its processors into tablets and even smartphones. And, more generally, Intel's PC-class processors are emulating chips like the A5 by packing more functionality onto the main processor, resulting in more power efficient silicon (the hallmark of the A5). Proof of the latter trend will come this summer when Apple puts Intel's most power-efficient Sandy Bridge chips into the MacBook Air.

Reason # 3 -> Aesthetics : I think it's safe to say that consumers seem to like the iPad. Form and function combine to make it irresistible for many business users and consumers. By extension, this applies to the MacBook Air and similar laptop designs that emerge.



iPhone 4 nearing most popular camera on Flickr

The iPhone 4 is gaining on the Nikon D90.

The camera in Apple's iPhone 4 is a popular option for Flickr users, a graph on the Yahoo-owned company's site shows.

According to the graph, the Nikon D90 continues to be the top choice among Flickr users. However, the iPhone 4 has been gaining ground quite steadily and could overtake the D90 in short order. The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and the Canon EOS Rebel T1i are the other top cameras on the site.

The popularity of the iPhone 4's 5-megapixel camera on the photo-sharing site doesn't necessarily mean that high-end cameras, like the digital SLRs included in the Flickr listing, are in trouble. However, it does speak to the iPhone 4's influence. It also highlights how point-and-shoot cameras are increasingly competing with smartphones.

In fact, another Flickr graph shows that the percentage of Flickr members using point-and-shoot cameras is declining at a rapid rate. Several Canon models, including the PowerShot G10 and G11, are seeing their popularity among Flickr users plummet to extremely low numbers. It becomes all the more sobering for those devices when one considers that Flickr itself says that camera phones are "under-represented" in its tallies, since it is often times difficult to automatically detect when a camera phone was used to snap a photo.

The iPhone 4 camera's capabilities are boosted by backside illumination, known as BSI, which helps improve low-light performance, thus creating an nicer pictures.


Rumor: Samsung prepping smartphone with 2GHz dual-core processor

Samsung expecting desktop-like 
performanceout of their mobile 
devices with dual-core 2GHz processors.

If you thought this year's dual core smartphones were fast and powerful, wait until you hear what Samsung has cooking. According to an unnamed official, Samsung planning to go a step further and release a 2GHz dual-core smartphone by next year.

Yes, that means that your Android handset could rival your Netbook or laptop in terms of processing prowess. It is very likely that these new chipsets will fall under the new Exynos brand that was announced earlier this year. Samsung is also rumored to be considering selling these new CPU units to other smartphone makers.

After having spent considerable time with a few dual-core devices, it's easy to spot the difference in performance over last year's Snapdragon chipsets. Looking ahead, however, it's difficult for me to wrap my head around something as fast as 2GHz dual-core for my mobile needs. Not that I would complain were that one of my options, of course. If I had my druthers, I'd prefer a bigger step forward in battery life first. How about you?



iPhone case lets you pop open a cold one

There are iPhone cases that protect the world-changing devices from sledgehammer blows. There are cases that act as backup batteries. There are fashion cases that match your ensemble and waterproof cases that invite your iPhone to the beach.

Jackpot! Here comes Be A HeadCase, the iPhone case with a bottle/can opener included. It's the kind of essential kit that should complete your summertime music enjoyment. Picture yourself at that Fourth of July barbecue. You've finished your sixth bratwurst and are coming down with a soothing game of Angry Birds (Early Mid Late Early Summer Edition). Nothing would quench your thirst and flush out the nitrates more than a tall, frosty long-neck brew. Yowza! But then your mother calls far too late to warn you against eating six brats. How can you juggle your iPhone multitasking and get those lifesaving suds down your gullet? (And, no it's not a twist-off.)

With the $25 Be A HeadCase, you just flip your iPhone over and pop open your 12 to 16 ounces of brain-cell-killing joy juice. The case comes with the app of the same name that plays a sound or a song and displays a photo of your choice every time you crack one open.

According to online purveyor Other World Computing, Be A HeadCase features a built-in, stainless steel bottle/can-tab opener on the back of "a slim, durable-protection hard-shell plastic case." It has a slip resistant rubber coating "for shock absorption in addition to impact and scratch protection for your iPhone." But, let's be honest. It's all wrapped up tight and rubberized because the entire purpose of the case is not to protect your phone. It's to get more hops and barley in your piehole faster. And that could mean iPhoning while under the influence, increasing the risk of spills.



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