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May 23, 2013

Microsoft Hints at Xbox One-Windows Phone Integration

Nokia Lumia 928

LAS VEGAS—Hey, you know what we didn't hear about at this week's Xbox One launch? Windows Phone. While Microsoft's mobile platform has only 3 percent market share and a unique connection with Xbox, the company still didn't take a moment during the launch to let Windows Phone draft off of its new, blockbuster set-top box.

But that doesn't mean there's nothing to say, just that they're not saying it.

"Is there anything I can say? No. It doesn't mean there's nothing that's being worked on. There's some time between now and the delivery of Xbox One. It is true that the general idea of an increased seamlessness and integration across these elements is a goal," Microsoft senior marketing manager Greg Sullivan told PCMag on Wednesday here at the CTIA trade show.

Windows Phone has Xbox-branded games and an Xbox-branded media store. It lets you accumulate Xbox gamer points and connect to the Xbox Live network. I tried to tease out whether Microsoft would extend the Xbox One's streaming media channels to Windows Phone, but no dice.

"I would offer up Windows Phone as evidence of great cross-divisional collaboration at Microsoft. Are we where we'll ultimately be? No, and we'll continue to improve it," Sullivan said enigmatically.



May 10, 2012

4G Americas: What 4G Confusion?

AT&T 4G LTE Map

NEW ORLEANS—What the heck is 4G, anyway? There's a lot of confusion around the meaning of "4G," if you ask wireless carrier CEOs. At yesterday's keynote here at the CTIA trade show, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said "consumers are confused by what 4G means." T-Mobile's CEO showed a video touting the speed of his 4G network, while AT&T's CEO claimed his network was the fastest.

So I asked Chris Pearson, the president of industry association 4G Americas, what he thinks constitutes 4G.

"At 4G Americas, our typical line is HSPA+ 21 and above," he said.

Okay, okay. That's all well and good, except for the fact that 4G Americas members T-Mobile and AT&T have both been selling slower HSPA 14.4 devices as "4G" for a while now.

"[Consumers] don't really care. All they want is a mobile broadband experience," Pearson said, with T-Mobile's Alex Schwerin defining that as "your home broadband experience on the go."

We all then joined in a hearty debate about LTE, HSPA+, and WiMAX. Neville Ray, T-Mobile CTO and 4G Americas chairman, pitched in with a defense of his carrier's HSPA+ 42 as something that "can actually outperform LTE." He's right, in some circumstances.



May 9, 2012

Sprint: A Better Network is Coming

Sprint: A Better Network is Coming

NEW ORLEANS—Sprint executives today laid out their plans for a better 3G network, wider push-to-talk capabilities, and a solid LTE 4G experience during a breakfast at the CTIA Wireless trade show.

We've already heard how Sprint is turning on six LTE cities in the middle of this year and committing to releasing 15 LTE devices. They've already announced four: the LG Viper, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC EVO 4G LTE, and a Sierra Wireless hotspot.

Sprint's LTE and 3G Plans
Sprint has only announced six LTE cities so far, and the execs today didn't expand on that. Rather, they focused on how they're going to make the LTE experience consistent and solid.

Sprint's LTE rollout will initially be in 5-MHz channels, narrower than Verizon's 10-MHz channels. Peak speeds won't hit the levels we've seen on Verizon and AT&T of 30-40Mbps, said Sprint's network senior vice president, Bob Azzi. But the network will be more consistent and more convenient, with reliable average speeds and faster handoffs between 3G and 4G than Verizon is seeing.

"What we focus on is what the customers are really going to get in the network, and that's why we're really confident that this network will be really competitive," he said.

Sprint isn't ignoring its 3G network, which will still be its workhorse for the next few years. Its Network Vision plan dramatically improves 3G coverage in several different ways.



May 7, 2012

Verizon Unveils HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE

Droid Incredible 4G LTE

Verizon today announced the Droid Incredible 4G LTE at CTIA Wireless in New Orleans. An update to HTC's popular Droid Incredible, the Incredible 4G LTE adds support for Verizon's 4G LTE network, along with Beats Audio support and advanced camera capabilities.

Eschewing the trend that bigger is better, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE features a manageable, 4-inch super LCD qHD display. The phone is powered by a 1.2-GHz, dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. There's no word yet on internal storage capacity, but the Incredible will feature a microSD card slot with support for cards up to 32GB. There's also a 1700mAh removable battery and NFC support.

Like most new HTC phones, a lot of noise is being made about the Incredible's camera. There's an 8-megapixel, rear-facing camera with autofocus, LED flash, BSI, f/2.2 and 28 mm lens. HTC Video Pic allows you to shoot HD video and capture photos at the same time. There's also a front-facing camera for video chat, though no additional information about it is currently available.

The Incredible is running the latest version of Android, 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), along with HTC's Sense UI 4.0. For a closer look at the latest version of Sense, check out our hands on with the HTC Vivid with Ice Cream Sandwich.