There's no limit to what you can build in Minecraft. From a one-to-one scale model of the Starship Enterprise to a working CPU, the block-based video game has seen practically everything. Fans of the game like to spend time on large-scale constructions, and the engineers at Verizon seem to be some of the biggest fans around. Staying true to what the company is known for, they've taken it upon themselves to extend the network's wireless coverage into the virtual world and build a working smartphone in Minecraft. The result is admittedly very cool.
The phone may not have all the conveniences of a modern smartphone: the roughly 2000-inch display has a screen resolution of about 40 by 30 pixels, which gives it a rather lowish pixel density of around 0.0254 ppi.
A multicolored lamp that's controllable via an Android app isn't a new idea. Neither is a Bluetooth speaker, or a specialized USB device charger. But combining them all together seems like a pretty nifty approach, and more than 400 Kickstarter backers would seem to agree. The Luma lamp, which combines the features of the Phillips Hue and similar multi-color, connected lamps, a Bluetooth speaker, and a basic charger, has reached its $55,000 Kickstarter goal with almost a whole month left in the campaign.
The "million color" multi-colored light can be controlled with the Android and iOS app, which also allows the Luma lamp to be used as a gigantic notification light and to turn on when you're in proximity to the device.
Your phone is old and you need a new one. You'd be happy as a clam if you could upgrade only one part, but to get the RAM/storage/processor you want, you have to pay for everything. This is why people still build desktop PCs. A concept called Phonebloks takes that modular PC goodness and applies it to smartphones. It's an interesting idea that will probably never, ever come to fruition.
Here's the gist: you buy a phone base that includes the motherboard and enough connective hardware to string all the parts together on one side and mount the screen on the other.
It's probably not the water-cooled superphone you've been looking for, but Japanese smartphone maker NEC announced the succinctly named Medias X 06E for the NTT DoCoMo network today, the world's first smartphone with a CPU cooled by H2O. Unfortunately, the specs are decidedly middling, and NEC intends to market the device as a "lady's" phone in essentially the same vein as HTC with the Rhyme.
The Medias X 06E packs a quad-core Qualcomm processor clocked at 1.7 Ghz, a 4.7-inch 720p OLED display, and a 13.1 megapixel camera. It comes in two colors, white and pink, and includes an attached light-up faux-jewel pendant.
Today, Facebook announced the Facebook Home suite that we've been hearing so much about. Well, to be more accurate, we've been hearing that Facebook is going to build its own phone and fork Android and create its own special social OS and that it would be the end of Google and that civilization will crash around us and we'll all wear monkey pelts and "Like" statuses by hurling spears through our enemies. Or something. Well, as it turns out, the world didn't end, Android is still whole, and Zuckerberg even thinks the idea of forking an entire OS to make an app is silly.
Au's Infobar phone line has been around since 2001, always featuring plenty of color and hoping to bring innovative ideas to the smartphone world through eye-popping, unique design. Bringing another stylized entry to the lineup, Au has posted a brief dossier on the new Infobar A02, designed by Naoto Fukasawa and manufactured by HTC.
One of the device's main claims to fame is its apparent use of HTC's ImageSense chip, allowing for smooth burst capture. It's also waterproof and dustproof, and has plenty of specs to ogle. Among them are its 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 4.7" 720p display, 8MP camera, LTE support, and microSD slot.
I miss you, HTC. My Evo was the first phone I ever truly loved, and between 2007 and 2010, as a company you did remarkably well for yourself. Then the Thunderbolt happened, and then Beats got involved and... Well, let's just say it hasn't been a great couple years. So, when I hear that your CEO, Peter Chou, is planning some bold new changes for 2013, I'm hopeful. Skeptical, but hopeful.
Looking to "rebalance the relationship" between humans and their smartphones, Moscow-based Yota Devices has announced the YotaPhone, a smartphone with an LCD display on one side, and an e-ink screen on the back.
The reason behind (between?) the dual screens, Yota says, is to deliver the information users want, right when they want it, without disengaging from the real world by pressing a power button and unlocking a screen. Users can choose to see information ranging from news stories to social media updates, calendar entries, and more. The information updates itself constantly, and is always ready to be looked at. Since the e-ink display uses very little battery power, the phone's 2100mAh pack should allow users to enjoy usage comparable to devices with a single display.
Popular benchmark and performance test maker Futuremark today announced that their 3DMark product, "the world's most popular benchmark and PC test," will be getting an update that brings it to Windows, Windows, RT, Android, and iOS, allowing the tool to join the ranks of cross-platform benchmarkers like the popular GeekBench.
The new version of 3DMark, which is expected to hit "before the end of the year," will include three all-new tests designed to benchmark devices from smartphones all the way up to high-performance gaming PCs.
The trio of new tests, which increase in intensity, methods, and purpose, include Ice Storm (for mobile devices and "entry level hardware"), Cloud Gate (for Windows notebooks and typical PCs), and Fire Strike (for high-performance gaming hardware).
We've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Galaxy Camera on AT&T for over a month now and today we finally received the juicy details we've been anticipating. The camera is going to come with a price tag of $499, putting it firmly outside the realm of your typical casual point-and-shoot market. However, you can knock $100 off that price tag if you buy it with an on-contract Galaxy smartphone. The camera itself will not be subject to a two-year contract, of course. Just the attached smartphone. Not a bad deal, really.
A data plan isn't necessary to pick one up, but if you do want to make use of that 4G radio, you have a few different options:
AT&T Mobile Share: $10 to share between 1 GB and 20GB
AT&T DataConnect 250MB: $15 for 250MB
AT&T DataConnect 3GB: $30 for 3GB
AT&T DataConnect 5GB: $50 for 5GB
Obviously, the cheapest option is to add the camera as an extra device to a shared data plan.