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Sony unveils new Windows 8 VAIO Tap 20 table-top PC

20 inch Sony tablet

Hold onto your seats, this is a big one. Sony has unveiled a 20" table-top Windows 8 PC today at IFA Berlin, titled VAIO Tap 20. The battery-powered PC features a stand allowing the user to adjust the device to suit immediate needs, whether it be tablet photo viewing (on the lap as it weighs in at a sturdy 11 pounds) or desktop-style web browsing. It's a Windows 8 PC that's surely going to turn some heads, so what's included in the package?

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WP Central

WP Central

File this under: Expected.

Currently the IFA show is occurring in Germany right now and we have our team on the ground for live coverage throughout the day. As somewhat expected, Samsung is presumed to be showing off a Windows Phone 8 device, specifically the Ativ-S.

The name Ativ-S was revealed yesterday as the new lineup from Samsung for forthcoming Windows Phone 8 series. The name Ativ (which is oddly ‘Vita’ backwards) looks to be the codenamed Odyssey that T-Mobile US is rumored to be stocking this fall.

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Modern UI Elements

With the official launch of Windows 8 on October 26'th, things in the developer world are heating up. Microsoft has been furiously getting quality apps onto the Windows Store via their App Excellence program, and devs have been touching up their XAML skills. And why wouldn't they be? With a potential market this big, any developer would be silly to not be planning to get something onto the store at some stage.

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Sally's Salon lead

Since the Xbox Live Deal of the Week program’s humble inception in March 2011 (with Frogger on sale), the program has become quite popular with deal hunting gamers. Perhaps I should say had become, because the deals of the week unceremoniously stopped coming after the August 8 late Marketplace update.

We theorized that Microsoft’s Xbox Live gaming division might have been too busy gearing up for Windows Phone 8 to bother with poor little WP7 games any more. Whether or not that played a factor, the program just might be back! Sally’s Salon Luxury Edition from Game House is now $2.99, down from $4.99.

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We are ever so close to the 5th of September where it’s possible Nokia and Microsoft are planning to reveal all about Windows Phone 8. We still have much to learn about the next version of Windows Phone such as possible consumer features for the OS that include Xbox Live and music improvements, as well as anything else Microsoft may still have hidden up their sleeves.

While there is still much to learn about Windows Phone 8, a recent video release only adds to the mystery of what's in store for September 5th.

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Nokia

Nokia certainly knows how to throw a party. Nokia World 2011 (the first evening) and the Deadmau5 performance are two examples of the kind of events the manufacturer has held here in the UK. We've now learned that Nokia has plans to hold a party in New York on September 5th. So what's in stall for attendees?

We're not entirely sure as details are scarce as to what exactly is on the agenda. What we'd imagine to be on the night (from previous experiences) is loud music, an unlimited supply of beverages, and -of course- new Nokia Windows Phones. It wouldn't be a party without Windows Phone Central, so we'll be heading on down to see what all the fuss is about. 

The event is for those who are 18 or above and will take place between 6-9pm in the Chelsea neighbourhood. You can register your spot at the Nokia event over on the RSVP page.

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WP Central

China to finally get Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone?

WP Central

China is not the most gamer-friendly place on this planet. Once upon a time, all was well and merry. But right upon entering the 21st century, some looney in the Chinese government suddenly decided video games are somehow harmful to the country, and made a law which banned the sales of all gaming consoles.

Sony took the blow right in the crown jewels. The game giant (ruler of the entire console gaming industry back then) prepared a whole batch of “specifically for China” Playstation 2 consoles, and opened up for pre-orders. The new law went live immediately after the Chinese Playstation 2 launch, sinking Sony’s new ship in one elegant hit.

According to urban legends and mythologies, some units were shipped to lucky Chinese gamers. But alas, I have to personally witness a genuine Chinese Playstation 2 yet.

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WP Central

WP Central

Let's file this under "rumors" for the time being. We know Microsoft doesn't have a great track record of keeping secrets, and China has been one major source of leaks. Combine the two factors, here comes another interesting leak.

The chaps at WPDang, the Chinese Windows Phone site who has been reasonably accurate on Microsoft leaks, state that the Redmond gang will be releasing the final version of Kinect for Windows SDK around September 15. Interesting timing, right after the Windows Phone 8 launch, and before the holy coming of Windows 8. What's most amusing is that according to WPDang's sources, Windows Phone division is involved in the development of Kinect for Windows SDK too...

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WP Central

Although Windows Phone Central likes to have our own contests regularly, we would be remiss to ignore this fun one that Nokia USA is having via their Twitter account.

The contest is simple: Tweet a photo with something pink that you are wearing—shoes, your hair, or if you’re like me, my giant pink feather boa (okay, maybe not, but we all know I’d make it work). The winner will be showered with all sorts of prizes including...

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Nokia Concept

Bence Bogár, a designer who publishes work to a majority of websites and resources, has revealed some Nokia Windows Phone concepts on Twitter. Bogár, who works at Egy Stúdió in Hungary, states the device in the images is a Nokia Windows Phone sporting a quad-core processor and HD display. While they may well be mere concepts and ideas as to what Nokia could work with in the future, they do appear to be marmite within Windows Phone Central HQ - it's torn the team between absolute detestation to appreciation.

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MetroPCS is looking to bring Windows Phone 8 on board

In an interview with FierceWireless, MetroPCS COO Tom Key said that the regional carrier is looking into bringing a Windows Phone 8 offering to its customers. When asked what his view on Windows Phone 8 was, Key replied:

Windows Phone 8 we think has a place in the portfolio. We’re actually working with a manufacturer right now on bringing Windows Phone 8 to marketplace.

He went on to liken Microsoft and Windows Phone with Apple and the iPhone, saying that much like a consumer will have an iMac on their desk, they will want an iPad for the couch and an iPhone in their pocket to compliment each other. Such is the value to Microsoft consumers. Key also said that the competition, led primarily by Nokia, is good for the mobile OS ecosystem.

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Samsung WP

Rum'o'meter

Word is already on the street that Samsung is looking to unveil Windows hardware at the closely approaching IFA (official website), which will be held in Berlin this week (yes, we have Mobile Nation's people there for coverage, no worries). This will more than likely include Windows 8 PCs and tablets, as well as a potential Windows Phone 8 (Apollo) device or two. 

Through SamMobile we're now aware that Samsung has trademarked 'Ativ', which could be used as branding for future hardware families. Ativ Tab, being the most conspicuous, looks to be the potential name for Samsung's venture into Windows 8 tablets. There is a high probability this will become reality as we're not likely to see the manufacturer alter its Android arsenal. We hope to find out more information in the next few days at IFA.

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WP Central

WP Central

Getting updates on Windows Phone 7 so far has been a mixed bag for consumers. On the one end, they’re basically simple, universal OS patches in the form of CAB files, allowing even early prototype phones to keep upgrading, years after release.

On the other end, they’ve been just awful due to the lack of carrier support in actually rolling them out to end-users. The process is still much better than whatever Android has to offer but it still pales compared to the iPhone in many ways.

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Casual Connect Seattle lead
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Windows Phone at Casual Connect Seattle Wrap-up

It’s a bit late in coming, but at last we have an official wrap-up of our time spent at Casual Connect Seattle this year. Unlike the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), which is a console-focused event, Casual Connect centers around casual games – a ‘genre’ or subset found mostly on smartphones, tablets, and PCs.  As such, we ventured forth in hopes of scoring some juicy Windows Phone games coverage as well as gauging the casual gaming industry’s feelings towards Microsoft’s smartphone platform in general.

Head past the break to see what we learned, plus links to all of our exclusive Casual Connect coverage!

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From the Forums

August is closing to an end, and we're all gearing up for the imminent rumours, announcements and discussion that will take place over the next number of weeks in the lead up to Windows Phone 8. As we prepare for a hopefully eventful September, let's take a quick look at popular threads from the weekend on the Windows Phone Central forums.

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Wordament lead

Microsoft themselves didn’t have as much of a presence at Casual Connect Seattle this year as we would’ve liked, but they did stage a fascinating presentation on the effects that switching to Xbox Live has had on popular free word game Wordament. We all know Xbox Live has helped Wordament become more popular, but the specific benefits and results of the switch are extremely encouraging and could have wide-ranging effects on future Windows Phone games.

Windows Phone Central has the full presentation video to share, plus a detailed summary and anaylsis. Check it out after the break.

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Paul Thurrott Windows Phone 8 Book

Paul Thurrott, a very prominent blogger, writer and podcaster of all things Microsoft has decided to write another book on Windows Phone. Paul has already crafted one book titled Windows Phone Secrets, but this time he's aiming to self-publish.  

Paul is a huge fan of Windows Phone and with his new book he’s looking for the whole process to be more “conversational” with his readers. As it will be self-published, he’ll have more leeway to keep it updated and accept contributions from others during the process. We previously had the privilege of having Thurrott on a Windows Phone Central podcast episode.

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627.AM goes ad free for Windows Phones

627.AM is a popular daily assistant for your Windows Phone that helps you manage daily alarms, check in on the weather forecast and jot notes on daily tasks. Our initial impressions found 627.AM to be a simple, clever and gorgeous app. The original release had 627.AM being a free, ad supported app. If you liked the free version but didn't care for the banner ads, an updated, ad-free version hit the Marketplace recently.

Losing the ads will cost you a little but you will also get a few new features including a theme friendly Live Tile, refined navigation animations, and the alarm time on the main page will now pick up the right time format based on your Windows Phone settings.

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50

Sony and Samsung rumored Windows 8 Tablets surface

Samsung's Windows 8 Tablet

While Microsoft is busy readying the company's Surface tablets, it looks like others are working on tablets of their own.  We've heard of Lenovo working on tablets and even some speculation that Nokia is working on one as well.  Today we can add Sony and Samsung to the list.

Samsung is prepping what is rumored to be a 10" (or larger?) tablet with Windows 8 that will be revealed at the IFA 2012 (consumer electronics convention) that will be held in Berlin. The Samsung tablet will have a dockable keyboard much like you have with the ASUS Transformer tablets. We had heard rumors earlier of a Samsung tablet but this is the first we've seen of a dockable keyboard.  IFA runs from August 31st to September 5th so we won't have long to wait for more specs on the Samsung tablet.  We'll have Mobile Nations field agents at IFA and try to run down the low down on these and other tablets.

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GroupMe for Windows Phone

GroupMe v3.5 looking good

Although there aren’t many new major apps to announce for Windows Phone yet this week, two big titles just received some updates and one has some major changes.

First up is Audible, one of the more requested apps that took a long time to get to Windows Phone. It has now hit version 1.3 as of today. Unfortunately that is about all we can tell you at this point as there was no accompanying changlog. That’s not the first time Audible has done such and update.

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WP Central

Next Windows Phone 8 device or just the Lumia 719?

WP Central

We’ve already seen one Nokia patent application for a design of a new Windows Phone that looked a lot like the alleged ‘Phi’. Now a second design has come forward dated for August 21st, also revealing what maybe the next low to mid-range Lumia phone. Or is it just an old one?

Not much can be garnered from the images though it does look a bit like the leaked ALPS images for a recent screen bezel/digitizer. The phone to our eyes looks like a cross between the Lumia 610 and 710. (Update: Actually, it's a dead ringer for the Lumia 719).

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Windows 8 wallpapers converted to Windows Phone

While Windows 8 is still slated for an October 26, 2012 release we are discovering that the desktop wallpapers make for some really nice Windows Phone lock screen wallpapers.

Our friends over at 1800PocketPC have converted the Windows 8 collection of Start Screen wallpapers into Windows Phone lock screen wallpapers. The Windows 8 collection includes 69 of these colorful wallpapers and so far, 23 have been converted to 480x800 images.

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Freemium Xbox Live games have gotten off to a rocky start on Windows Phone. Bug Village is sort of ho-hum and Glu’s two follow-up titles Gun Bros and Contract Killer sadly released in extremely buggy states. Hopefully the low quality and/or bugginess of those three games hasn’t completely soured our audience from the freemium business model... After all, iOS and the PC overflow with high quality free-to-play games.

The reason I’m talking up the freemium model is because Microsoft has finally started allowing free-to-play games to come to Xbox 360. Several such titles are in the works (including one extremely promising action-RPG that I can’t name just yet), but the first will be an online multiplayer-oriented XBLA title called Happy Wars from Japanese developer ToyLogic.

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