Sony Ericsson’s PlayStation Phone Gets Benchmarked

We have already shared with you how the Sony Ericsson PlayStation phone looks, what are its specifications, and what it might be called. Now, we even have some benchmarks to judge its performance.

A Chinese technology website managed to get hold of a PS phone with pre-release firmware for half-a-day. If you can read Chinese or don’t mind Google Translate, head over here for the details.

As we already know, the PlayStation phone ships with a single core processor – a 1 GHz Snapdragon. While this might soon get outdated due to the expected onslaught of dual-core Android handsets, the good news is that Sony Ericsson has done a very good job at optimizing its custom shell.


The PlayStation phone clocked in a Quadrant score of 1,733, which is admirable for any phone with default ROM. The Adreno 205 GPU also pushed the Neocore score to 59.1fps, which is once again, excellent.

The lack of cutting-edge hardware in a gaming device is surprising. In fact, one of the videos shot by IT168 shows the PlayStation phone getting beaten by another current generation phone in Dungeon Defenders. Nevertheless, at the very least, the PlayStation phone will be able to handle all current generation games. Sony will undoubtedly tap into content partners to make some big-name games available for the PlayStation phone. These games, which targeted at the device, will be accessible through a bundled app called PlayStation Pocket.

Portal 2 Demoed with Razer Sixense, Motion Controller for PC Gamers

CES is not the place where you would normally expect news about upcoming games. However, Neowin and 1Up has managed to pick up an interesting tid-bit about Portal 2.

Motion Controllers are quite the rage these days. Kinects have been flying off shelves ever since it was introduced, and Sony is trying its best cash-in with PlayStation Move. However, PC users need not feel left out. Razer has developed a motion controller targeted at PC gamers. Unlike other motion controllers, Razer’s Sixense doesn’t use ultrasonic rays or cameras. Instead it uses magnetic sensors. The Sixense, which seemed to be genuinely fun and interesting, was demoed at Quakecon ’09 and at last year’s CES.


At CES 2011, Razer is showing off Sixense once again. This time around the game being used for the demo is Portal 2. Although it’s possible that a modified version of Portal 2 was used for the demo, we are hoping that the final release version will also include support for Sixense. Valve had earlier stated that Portal 2 won’t support the PlayStation Move. But, you never know. If they do include motion control in the PC version, it might be added to the console version too.

Notion Ink Adam is Silky Smooth and Impressive as Hell

SlashGear has gone hands-on with the highly anticipated and controversial tablet from India, the Adam, and they are impressed. Adam has excited and teased tablet users and Android fans around the world since its announcement last year. Things turned ugly (and fast) with the opening of pre-orders, thanks to Notion Ink’s inexperience. However, as the video demonstrations have shown, Adam is quite unlike any other device on the market.


Apple has made a name for itself by paying attention to detail. Now, Notion Ink is trying to challenge iPad’s supremacy by following the same principle. Although the Adam is an Android tablet running on the powerful Tegra 2, it has its own user interface (called Eden), and its own set of carefully developed applications.

According to Slashgear:

Eden, the multitasking UI, splits the screen into three panes, and intelligently uses the dual-core NVIDIA processor to balance power and battery life. For instance, the CPU shows up as a single core in the Android Aboutpage; Eden won’t activate the second core if there’s still capacity in the first core. The way individual apps are handled does its part to minimize Tegra 2 exertion too. In the mail client, for instance, when you’re only reading emails it doesn’t load the send-mail library. That reduces load times and shrinks the amount of memory and power required. Other apps work in a similar way, only loading the libraries that are necessary for the functions you’re actively using. Background apps are frozen to free up their resources.

Thanks to all the optimizations, Adam is silky smooth even under heavy load. Switching between applications is near instantaneous, and video playback is remarkably fluid. In fact, SlashGear found the entire experience to be as smooth as watching videos on a dedicated Blu-ray player.

Judging from the initial impressions, Adam might indeed be the perfect blend of beauty, flexibility and power. I am expecting iPad 2 to get multi-tasking capabilities. If that indeed turns out to be true, it will be interesting to see Apple’s approach, as Notion Ink seems to have done an outstanding job.

iPad 2 Case Along With a Dummy iPad 2 Makes an Appearance at the CES

It’s CES’ worst nightmare come true. Apple products hogging the limelight even before the event could kickoff. Earlier today, Engadget spotted an eager exhibitor at the CES 2011 showing off what appeared to be cases for the yet to be unveiled iPad 2.

Very little is known about iPad 2, and even that too is mostly through unconfirmed rumors. However, that hasn’t stopped several manufactures from designing cases for the highly anticipated successor to the king of tablets. Dexim, the manufacturer in question, has gone a step further than others, and has even prepared an iPad 2 dummy to display with their cases. The dummy iPad 2, as captured by Engadget, is displayed below in its full glory.


If Dexim’s sources are correct, then the iPad 2 will indeed be slimmer and slicker than its predecessor. It will also have a camera at the rear and front, along with a larger speaker. Apple is expected to announce the iPad 2 in the coming weeks.

Amazon Gears Up to Launch Its Own Android App Store, Begins Accepting App Submissions

There are a lot of things wrong with the Android Market. From the lack of in-app payments to the limited payment options, there are enough shortcomings to write an essay about. However, thanks to its “openness”, there’s always room for alternatives. Amazon, the Seattle based online shopping giant, is gearing up to offer an alternative. The Amazon appstore for Android is slated to be launched later this year. Right now the developer portal is live at Android app developers can sign up and submit their apps to Amazon.

After its success with the Kindle store, Amazon certainly believes that it can do a better job than Google. With the new app store, Amazon is aiming to take the middle-ground between Apple’s app store and Google Android Market. Like the iPhone app store, all apps will have to be approved by Amazon before they can appear on the store. However, unlike Apple, Amazon isn’t looking to be the moral police. Instead it will be screening the applications to ensure that they are safe, stable and do what they claim to do. The expectation is that it will keep the junk applications out, without killing the diversity and flexibility of Android apps.


The other differentiating factor for the Amazon appstore will be pricing. Unlike other stores where the developer determines the price of an app, in Amazon’s store they can only suggest a price. The actual price will be fixed by Amazon. Amazon has earned a reputation for giving deep discounts on both new and old items. Expect something similar on its Android store. In order to pull in users, Amazon will be tweaking with the price and offering deals from time to time. However, Amazon is promising that it will be looking after the developer’s interest and not undercut them. Under all circumstances, developers will earn at least 20% of the list price.

Having options is always good. However, at this moment, I am not certain if the Amazon appstore is good news or bad news. It will probably be safer and less junk-filled than the Android Market. It will also tap into Amazon’s expertise in ecommerce. I am expecting multiple payment options and a sophisticated recommendation engine. Amazon’s store should also please manufacturers looking to release an Android handset without necessarily bundling the Android Market. However, the biggest cause for concern in fragmentation. If multiple markets start springing up with their own exclusive apps, in the long run, it’s going to complicate things for the users. I am also uncertain about Amazon’s decision to control pricing. The presence of an established alternative in the form of Google Market will probably deter them from setting prices too low, but standardization of pricing can be a dangerous thing. Hopefully, Amazon’s entry will at the very least force Google to improve its Market.

Sony Ericsson PlayStation Phone to Get Xperia Branding, New Pictures Leaked

Last time, Sony Ericsson angered many of its fans by announcing the Xperia X10 several months before it was ready. This time around, SE has been keeping its mouth shut. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any idea regarding what Sony Ericsson has been cooking. The steady stream of leaks have already outed the successor to the Xperia X10 and the X10 Mini, besides revealing a new Android powered gaming phone.


A couple of weeks back, we reported that the PlayStation phone from SE, codenamed Zeus, might also get the Xperia branding. Now, that has been confirmed through a fresh set of pictures leaked by a Chinese forum.


At this point it’s not clear if Sony Ericsson will unveil the PlayStation phone at CES 2011 or MWC 2011. However, the newfound polish of the hardware buttons suggests that the phone is ready for manufacturing.

Opera Software Set to Showcase New Tablet Browser at CES 2011

OperaLast year, Opera Software gained attention at the CES by demoing the breezy Opera Mini for iPhone, which went on to become the first non-webkit based alternate browser for the iPhone. This year, the browser maker will be demoing its new browser tailor-made for Android based tablets and netbooks.

In 2011, tablets are a new must-have. Opera is creating waves with the first public preview of Opera for tablets,said Christen Krogh, Chief Development Officer, Opera Software. Opera for tablets brings the same trusted Internet experience to tablets and netbook PCs as users have come to love on their mobile phones and desktops.

Opera for tablets will be based on the yet to be unveiled Opera Mobile 10.5. As you can see in video embedded below, the user interface has been tweaked for bigger screens. Nevertheless, according to Haavard K. Moen, Opera for tablet will be supporting a wide range of form factors, and should be able to adapt itself to both small and large screen sizes. Little else is known about Opera for Tablet. However it will support flash, and should come with all the standard features of Opera Mobile like Opera Turbo, Opera Link (synchronization), speed dials, password manager and kinetic scrolling.

Interview: Level Up’s CEO on the Viability of Paid Apps in the Android Market and More

Yesterday, Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio Mobile created a flutter with his remark that "paid content just doesn’t work on Android". Rovio Mobile is the highly acclaimed developer of Angry Birds, which has literally taken the world by storm. However, his comments didn’t sit well with many fans, who have been pointing out that Rovio didn’t even try the premium app route before opting for the ad-supported freeware option.

LevelUp Studio Logo

We reached out to Ludovic Vialle, CEO of LevelUp Studio. LevelUp Studio is one of the very few high quality publishers who have opted to limit themselves to Android. Beautiful Widgets has been consistently topping the Android Market charts (for paid apps), while Plume (previously Touiteur) has won the adoration of many a Twitter user. Having tried both the premium and the freemium business model, Vialle is uniquely qualified to comment on the state of the Android ecosystem.

Ludovic VialleMe: Why Android? Most publishers believe that the real money is in iOS. LevelUp Studio is amongst the very few publishers who have opted for an Android only strategy. What prompted this?

LV: Android was really new when I started to work on it, paid applications were just added to the Market, and I just had a feeling that being the first on a new platform could be a big opportunity. Before that I was an early iPhone user, but I started to dislike Apple’s methods of having everything closed in their eco-system. I was attracted by the different approach from Google with Android.

Me: How big an issue is fragmentation for Android developers? Moving forward, do you see fragmentation getting worse or getting better?

LV: Fragmentation has never been a problem, you just need to think and develop a little more in some rare cases, but otherwise Google did an incredible job to make it possible for everything to work without really paying attention to fragmentation.

Me: In an interview, Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio Mobile (developer of Angry Birds) claimed that Nobody has been successful selling content on Android. I suppose that as a company with multiple paid apps LevelUp Studio will have something to say about that. Vesterbacka also remarked that Paid content just doesn’t work on Android. What is your perspective on paid apps for Android?

LV: I can say that paid applications can be successful, I cannot really compare with iOS because we do not have equivalents applications on the platform. Beautiful Widgets has been the #1 paid application on the market for almost a year (with the exception of a new application occasionally borrowing the first place for a few days), and it certainly helps. Also people do like customizing their devices, and Android is the king of customization. You can make a lot of money from Android, quality and continued support/development is the key.
LevelUp Studio started as a hobby, and now we are an independent software producer, with three employees (two developers + my wife who assists me mid-time in paperwork) and myself. We will probably expand in the future, very soon, at this rate.

Me: Recently you made the full version of Plume (previously Touiteur), supported by advertisements, available for free in the market. What prompted this change? Based on initial results how has this affected the bottom-line?

LV: Previously we were using a Freemiumconcept, a free applications and a Premium version with more features, but to be honest, the revenues were not the same as Beautiful Widgets, very far from it, and developing Plume (Touiteur) was costing more money that it would provide.
So we decided to test advertisements and see how it works, we paid attention not to disturb the users, that was our priority, so we went with 140Proof, which is an incredible partner. In the end, the advertisements are not invasive, and they are providing really interesting content (not ringtones or antivirus advertisements that we are used to seeing). On the other hand, free users with advertisements now benefit from all of the premium features, and premium users don’t get advertisements.
I do not have the numbers yet, but I am confident that it will cover our costs at the very least.

Me: The general perception is that ad-supported free apps work better than paid apps in the Android market. What does your experience suggest?

LV: Unfortunately we do not have enough experience on this yet, but if properly implemented, it can certainly be an interesting model, but not necessarily for everyone. I have feedback from some Android developers who are saying that advertisements are not working at all, and they are going to leave that model. I tend to think that a paid only model with a good application/game could be interesting too (with no lite version).

Me: Both as a developer and a user of Android, what is your take on the recently introduced 15 minute refund window?

LV: As a user and developer: it is too short, sometimes we do not even have the time to understand how an application works within the stipulated time. People are not able to really test and quickly take the decision to refund before the end of the refund window. I think that one or two hours could work, but I understand that it might not be a good solution for game developers. Maybe this could be a developer setting?

Me: What is the one big limitation of the Android Market that you believe is hurting developers?

LV: The lack of a desktop version. I know this is coming, and hope that it will help people to choose applications. Also the limited payment methods (credit card only) .

Me: What is the one thing about Android that you love the most?

LV: Customizations, you can make your phone your own phone. I can even make my phone remain silent when I sleep, automatically! So many possibilities!

Me: Finally, what are you guys currently working on? What can we expect from LevelUp Studio in 2011?

LV: We are working on improving Beautiful Widgets (with some big updates coming soon) and Plume because there is always room for improvement. We will probably be starting a new project in 2011, but we will see how we perform at that moment and if we can afford to do it!

Opera’s Co-Founder on Extensions, Competition, Web TVs and More

2010 has been a great year for Opera Software. Earlier in the year, we saw Opera Mini for iPhone dominating the App Store charts soon after its release. Opera also expanded to the Android platform and launched Opera Mini followed by Opera Mobile in the Market. On the desktop front, Opera kicked off the year with the launch of Opera 10.5 and finished it off with Opera 11.

Opera Software was formally founded in 1995 by Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and Geir Ivarsøy. After nearly 15 years at the helm, Tetzchner stepped down as the CEO of the company earlier this year. Recently, Tetzchner was in India to meet with the fans. During his visit, he was kind enough to answer my questions in an email interview.


Me: While I am absolutely thrilled with extensions for Opera 11, I have to ask: What took Opera so long? Did Chrome’s success influence Opera’s decision to implement extensions in anyway?

JVT: When it comes to extensions we believe as a company that it is important to ensure that the browser that you get out of the box is rich and has a lot of functionality. With focus on web based extensions we feel that there is a closer match with our focus on standards, and we felt the time was right to launch extensions with Opera 11. We have also focused on features such as widgets and unite – which allow developers to develop on the outside of the browser, which we have found to be important for sustainability of the web as we know it.

Me: Are you using any extension? If yes, what is your favorite extension?

JVT: Personally I am not using a lot of extensions, I have tried a number of them but for the most part I feel my needs are covered with all the other functionalities that Opera has to offer.

It has to be said that extensions are about the long tail that people need.

Me: In spite of being (arguably) the most innovative browser, Opera has had little success in expanding its desktop marketshare. Currently about fifty million people browse using Opera on their computer and this number has remained stagnant for a while. In fact, the Q3 2010 report suggests that Opera lost some users during this year. Why do you think that Opera is struggling to get a significant number of new users?

JVT: Opera during the last few years has had a significant growth in number of users. We now have over 150 million users worldwide across our desktop and mobile browsers. The growth in past one year is very promising and we hope to continue this trend by coming-up with innovative features and products.

Me: If you were asked to use any browser other than Opera for 24 hours, which browser would you pick and why?

JVT: There can only be one browser for me i.e. the Opera browser

Jon-Tetzchner Me: Do you subscribe to the notion that in the future the browser will make operating systems irrelevant?

JVT: I would not say irrelevant the operating system continues to be important.

I always ask a question during my talks how many native applications are you using on your PC?. The fact that typically 5% or less are using 5 applications or more indicates that already the browser is the most important tool on your computer and most of the time is spent in the browser. We are seeing that the browser has become the most important aspect of the computing experience.

Me: Earlier in the year, the browser ballot screen went live in Europe. After nine months, have you noticed appreciable changes in the browser usage patterns in Europe?

JVT: Clearly what we have seen is a continuous fall in the number of Internet Explorer users and users have increased for competing browsers including Opera.

Me: One of the things Opera complained about is Microsoft’s reluctance to support web standards. What is your impression of Internet Explorer 9? Do you think Microsoft has made amends?

JVT: We are seeing Microsoft working hard on improving their standards support and we applaud that. They are still trailing the competition but are moving in the right direction.

Me: In 2004, Opera extracted a settlement out of Microsoft for deliberately crippling MSN on Opera. Unfortunately, the practice persists till date with the big three (Google, Microsoft and Yahoo) often using browser sniffing to offer an inferior version of their products to Opera users. Why do you think this is the case?

JVT: First thing on the settlement there was no settlement. Microsoft fixed their site. This is where we had the Bork edition of Opera and we got them to fix their site.

I think browser sniffing is a bad thing in general. But we are also seeing that more of the sites are focusing on web standards and that will continue.

Me: Your vision of One Webhas won. WAP is dead, and mobile web usage is exploding. What’s next for mobile web?

JVT: Exploding some more.

I think in many ways there are so many people who do not have Internet access today. There are two billion people with internet access and there are one and half billion phones. The trend that we will see is that mobile users will most likely outnumber PC users in a year’s time. This will have a significant impact on the web as we know it and a very positive one.

Going ahead, please look out for Televisions, Set top boxes, cars and other devices getting online as well.

Me: The Register claimed that Opera holds the web’s most valuable secretthanks to its massive data cache (due to the combination of Opera Mini and Opera Turbo). Is Opera looking at ways to monetize this information?

JVT: We value our customer’s privacy extremely. So overstepping any kind of boundaries there is out of question.

We are clearly looking at ways where we can help enable relevant advertisement on the mobile through our purchase of AdMarvel. We announced the Open Mobile Ad Exchange and as part of that we can target people. But we don’t want to target anywhere not close to comfort. Typically the kind of targeting will be based on device type and location on a very broad scale.

Me: What is the Opera BreamUI mentioned during Capital Markets Day?

JVT: If you look at the different Opera versions on different phones you will see a lot of similarities. It’s because the user interface is written in the Bream language, allowing us very quickly to deploy Opera on new platforms.

This allows us to spend more time on making a great user experience and less time on actually develop specifically for one platform.

Me: Opera also has some interesting offerings for connected TVs. How is it different from the new Google TV? How has the reception been from the device manufacturers?

JVT: The response has been great. We have been signing up a lot of device manufacturers including brand names such a Philips, Toshiba, Lowe, etc. We are also working closely with the operators and are seeing significant increase in deployments. We believe that in the next few years internet technologies on television will become a big hit.

Me: Earlier in the year, you stepped down as the CEO of Opera. What prompted the change? As a co-founder what are your current responsibilities within the company?

JVT: I have run Opera for 15 years. I think it is important that for a great company you have to be able to handle change. Personally I wanted to focus more on the tasks that I like and slightly less on the tasks that I like less. So I decided that I wanted to have Lars, whom I trust, to take over the role as CEO.

Me: Soon after Lars Boilesen stepped in, Opera India was practically shut down, and the entire engineering department was axed. Even more surprisingly, the entire thing happened in a secretive manner without a public announcement. What went wrong?

JVT: The decision to close an office that and let people go is always a tough one.
At the same time, it is difficult to maintain and control a faraway office as it requires quite a lot of resources. The assessment from the team was that they wanted to reduce the complexity of operations that arrive from having multiple offices and they moved the work to development centers closer to Oslo.

Obviously it was not an easy decision to make.

Me: Were any other Opera Software offices downsized/closed?

JVT: The company is continuing to grow. For the India office, rationale was about moving this operation to Poland to reduce the complexity.
When it comes to others the rationale was that we are doing more standardized products and less custom work.

Me: What is your perception of India with respect to its engineering talent pool?

JVT: India certainly is a great resource of engineering talent. We have a number of Indians working in our global offices handling important portfolios.

Me: Opera Software is more than 15 years old. Looking back, is there anything that you wish you/Opera Software had done differently?

JVT: There are always choices. But I think it is important to not dwell on hindsight but still try to use the learning’s from the past while moving forward. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. All the choices we made that in hindsight we wished we had done differently try to rather use that as a positive impulse for moving forward.

Me: What does the coming year hold for Opera?

JVT: The goal for Opera has to be to continue the great growth that we have been seeing all around during the last couple of years. We have tripled our overall user base combining desktop, mini and mobile. In the beginning of 2009 we were 50 mn users and now we are 150 mn active users. So it is a significant growth, a growth that I believe is important to continue to have and even increase. To do this we need to focus on the end users, providing them with better user experience.

Focusing on improving the product for end users on different devices in different markets.

[Hat-tip to Choose Opera for the lovely Techie Jon image.]

Mozilla Slips Up, Publishes User IDs and Encrypted Passwords

Mozilla-Password-Breach Close on the heels of the Gawker Media security breach, Mozilla has disclosed that it had accidentally published a partial database of user account information. As many as 44,000 user ids and password hashes were left publicly accessible.

The affected accounts were inactive ones, which were using md5-based password hashes. MD5 is a weak encryption technique that is crackable. Security firm Sophos explained:

MD5 has cryptographic weaknesses that permit creation of the same hash from multiple strings. This permits security experts to compute all the possible hashes and determine either your password or another string that will work even if it is not your password.

Active accounts on Mozilla’s add-on repository use SHA-512 password hash with salting that offers stronger protection.

The good news is that almost no one noticed. According to Mozilla, the database was accessed by only one person outside of the company. That person is the security researcher who alerted Mozilla about the issue under the Web bounty program, which offers $500 to $3,000 in cash rewards for valid security related bug reports. Nevertheless, Mozilla has deleted the password of all the affected accounts as a precautionary measure.