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Introducing 'Around SPE'

You may not realize it, but the site you're reading right now is a part of one of the premier networks of smartphone news and review sites. We call it the 'Smartphone Experts Network' and if you haven't heard, we've recently added a new member to our family, Android Central. That brings the number of our smartphone communities up to five sites. You can find links to these sites and to their latest stories either in the sidebar or footer of every SPE site.

I thought now would be a good time to introduce a new weekly blog post I'll be putting up at each of our sites called 'Around SPE,' which will give you a very quick roundup of the biggest stories at each of our sites. Now, 'big stories' are just a tiny part of what we offer, as each of our sites also feature vibrant communities, engaging podcasts, and also accessory stores if you're looking to make your smartphone a little better.

In addition to our new sister site, there's also some other SPE Network news to share, so follow me after the break to learn more!

Let's start with a quick note about Smartphone Experts:

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AT&T Fuze To Be Released Nov 4th?

The rumors of the AT&T Fuze's impending launch have matured into a simple question: when is the dang thing going to be official? We've been getting multiple (and we mean multiple) reports of AT&T employees either seeing the Fuze in the back room or -- get this -- showing it off to customers and telling them “Wink Wink, any day now.” Let's hope so, because that rumored October 23rd release date turned out to be nothing more than a brief appearance on AT&T's site, not a release at all (unless you count eBay).

A couple more reports (did we mention “multiple”) have finally consolidated around a date: Election Day, November 4th. Insert your favorite voting pun here, then check (what's left of) your bank account to see if you have the funds to afford the after-contract $299 price point.

Thanks to all you AT&T stalkers for sending in your reports!

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Verizon on the femtocell train with Samsung Ubicell

Yeah, Verizon's following you around with dozens of little helpers (go ahead, look over your shoulder — they're there). But let's face it, there are times your signal may not be up to snuff, but you just can't ditch the Big V.

Like Sprint and it's AIRAVE, which we've written about before, Verizon is getting ready to launch the Samsung Ubicell.

The short version: A box that looks like a wireless router uses your Internet connection and spits out a cell signal. It's your own personal cell tower. In this case, it's specific for your Verizon phone, and that's any Verizon phone (at least with the 850 and 1900 MHz bands). Pretty simple, really.

And did we mention that it cranks out EVDO, for a fast data connection?

No word yet on a release date, cost for the hardware or how much extra this may add to your bill each month. We're hoping for soon, not much and just a little.

Cellphonesignal & via our friends at TreoCentral

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Verizon Touch Pro crippled? Hobbled? Or A-OK?

The Touch Pro just seems to be everywhere of late. A recap:

And finally, some Verizon news. In the PPC Geeks forum thread that Malatesta deftly waded through last week, a source close to HTC noted that the Verizon Touch Pro would indeed be "crippled," as the carrier is prone to do with its phones.

Yes, will it be crippled SADLY yes, it will have a lower CPU and memory, but from the test model I honestly did not see a difference unless you use some serious programs.

The folks over at the Boy Genius Report have noticed an addendum to this statement.

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Updated: AT&T Fuze spotted on eBay

Update: And with just hours left to go in the auction, the listing has been pulled. Can't say we're too surprised. Nov. 4, here we come.

If you can't wait just a little bit longer to get your hands on the AT&T Fuze (Or Touch Pro, or Touch Pro Fuze, or Touch Fuze — whatever you want to call the carrier's release of the HTC device — one has been spotted on eBay. [via WM Poweruser]

The auction ends Monday at 9:04 p.m. EDT/6:04 p.m. PDT and was at $400 at the time of this writing. That'd be more than reasonable for an off-contract (though we assume still carrier-locked) HTC Touch Pro. The packaging and marketing materials make it look like a full-on production device and not a pre-release unit.

That said, this is eBay we're talking about, and the first line in the description is a wee bit curious:

You are bidding on a brand new HTC Touch Pro Fuze that has been designed for the AT&T network. I used this phone for one day to test and it is a fantastic device. Unfortunately my company works only on the Blackberry platform so I can't use it for my company e-mail.

That furrow your brow a little? Caveat emptor, of course.

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Palringo Adds Location Info to New Version

Palringo is one of our favorite instant messaging systems out there despite the odd requirement that you create a Palringo-specific account to use it. That new login is looking less burdensome, however, now that Palringo will be bringing live location information to the latest version. They plan to help your friends and family know where you are when you are messaging them, making it easier for meet ups or friend locating. Now when you instant message your boss about being late, you better make sure it

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Inside an HTC Facility: Rumors Galore!

So an interesting thread popped up over at ppcgeeks lead by criticalaudioinc.

A fairly recent member, Criticalaudioinc claims (and has verified with a moderator) that he works for HTC in one of their "repair/order/design" facilities and seems to have quite a grasp on the technical aspects of their phones. He then basically spilled his guts in 50 pages of posts. Must have been all that coffee.

So take the following with a shaker of salt, but here is a nice summary of what was revealed in the thread.

Read on for some interesting tid bits about the Diamond, Touch Pro and something about a CDMA Touch HD....!!

WMExperts: We sort through & summarize 50 pages of geek talk just for you!

(Note: we have added questions to facilitate criticalaudioinc's answers for sake of brevity; all block quotes are verbatim except for spelling corrections)

Delay for Sprint Touch Pro release--why? Needs a ROM update to fix the following:

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Reminder: Palm Treo 750 WM6 update expires soon

We've warned you once that Palm will stop hosting the Windows Mobile 6 update for the Treo 750 on Oct. 31. Here's warning No. 2:

Palm will stop hosting the Windows Mobile 6 update for its Treo 750 on Oct. 31.

Again, you don't have to install the update if for some reason it's not your thing. But go ahead and download it in case you want it later.

And as we noted earlier this week, HTC is also getting ready to pull the plug on a few WM6 updaters. Our friends over at Kinoma (Thanks! And be sure to check out Dieter's chat with them on the Treocentral Treocast) just compiled links for the Treo and HTC downloads, and we share said links with you now.

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SPB Mobile Shell teams up with Xperia X1 panels

Aside from its top-notch hardware, one of the more interesting (and curious) things about the Xperia X1 is its nine-panel interface. As we've previously reported, Sony Ericsson has released the software development kit for the panels, so that anyone can develop their own.

It turns out that one of our favorite developers, SPB Software House, has done exactly that and already worked up its popular Mobile Shell for use on the X1.

As you undoubtedly know from our review, Mobile Shell 2.0 effectively skins Windows Mobile and makes it much more touch-friendly, with crisp icons, dial-by-photo, weather info and slick graphical menus. These things look great on "normal" devices. We can only imagine what the X1's souped-up hardware can do for it.

In this implementation, Mobile Shell serves as one of the nine customizable panels, allowing use of the other eight as you please. SPB's press release says it will be included with all X1's for free. It's also available now as a cab file (download here) on SE's Web site.

Check out a flurry of YouTube videos after the jump for a look at SPB Mobile Shell on the Xperia X1.

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AT&T Fuze reportedly plays peekaboo online again

The HTC Touch Pro — known as the Fuze around the AT&T circles — has already made a couple of appearances online, albeit briefly. First were a couple of Fuze-branded domain names, and then came an initial appearance on AT&T's business page.

Engadget Mobile is reporting that the Fuze has again found its way onto AT&T's business site, though apparently it's gone into hiding again.

Where will the elusive Fuze pop up next?  We suggest you keep an eye on a certain *cough* Windows Mobile site *cough* in the near future.

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Registry Edits I Have Loved

A while ago I wrote a detailed step by step tutorial on how to edit your Registry on your WM phone. Since then I have been asked several times, across multiple boards, which registry hacks should they do. If you are new to editing the registry and go searching across the internet, you might find yourself a little overwhelmed with how many reg tweaks you find. There are hundreds upon hundreds of registry edits / tweaks / hacks (they all mean the same thing) that you can do. Some are very specific for certain phones, some are for the more advanced users, but most are easy to do... but which ones should the average user do?

To help answer this question I have gone through several forums, websites, threads, etc... and I have picked some of the most common and helpful. (Not to mention fun, cool, and easy). This list is not meant to be an extensive resource of all the reg edits that you can do. This is a list of some of the most popular and useful reg edits to help those who may not know which ones to do when searching the web and forums with hundreds of reg hacks to choose from. I know there are loads that I have left out for one reason or another... too hard, too phone specific, known conflicts, or simply had to whittle down from the thousands to choose from. If you have a favorite reg edit that you feel I should have included, then please post it below to add to this one stop resource of the most common reg edits.

Meanwhile, read on for a massive list of Registry Edits I have Loved!

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HTC puts Oct. 31 deadline on 6.0 upgrades

If you have an HTC device that has an upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.0 available, make sure you grab it by Oct. 31.

HTC has announced that the free updates will no longer be available come November.

Who should heed this news? Says HTC, owners of the following devices:

So if you have any of these devices, get your download on before it's too late. And as a reminder, the Windows Mobile 6.0 update to the Palm Treo 750 (another HTC-aided device) also expires on Oct. 31.

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And now, the Samsung Epix user Manual

Speaking of the AT&T Samsung Epix, we now bring you the manual of the i907, courtesy of CellPhone Signal. The additional details, some of which are pretty standard, plus one biggie at the end:

  • 320x320 touchscreen.
  • 2MP camera. (See more below.)
  • WiFi.
  • GPS.
  • Stereo Bluetooth
  • Customized themes.
  • AT&T Navigator.
  • It does have a stylus.
  • Silent mode: "Press and hold to place your device in silent mode. (About time someone other than Palm has hopped onto that train.)
  • No dedicated audio jack. (Boo.)
  • Beaucoup choices for text entry. You have the physical qwerty keyboard, an on-screen keyboard, or gesture-based text entry which "allows you to enter characters using single strokes."
  • While the camera may only be 2MP, you've got a number of options. Single shot, multishot, mosaic, night shot and panorama. Resolution up to 1600x1200. A 10-second time. White balance. Sepia/green/aqua/negative effects. Video sharing.
  • And the coup de grace: Ms. Pac-Man. Say no more.

Marco, you're the man.

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And awaaay we go: go check out the Samsung Epix at AT&T site now. You're looking at an ideal price of $99 after various rebates (mail-in or no) and a Treo Pro-cringing price of $449 without contract. Specs are exactly as we told you last night.

One notable thing here: the Epix pretty clearly isn't identical to the non-US Samsung i780. For one thing, it's the same thickness throughout the entire device instead of having a hump up at the top and a thinner area below. For another, its gagetry title is the i907, not the i788 as we'd previously suspected. It also apparently has haptic feedback, but we're going to go out on a limb and suggest that it's the standard type of haptics we've seen on Windows Mobile, which is to say it will be pretty lame and you'll want to turn it off.

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Windows Mobile & WebCapTel Working Together on Sprint

One demographic that has been left on the sidelines of the mobile technology revolution is the hard-of-hearing customers.

Sprint today announced the availability of their WebCapTel system which allows said customers to use two phones: one for speaking and hearing, the second (a WM device e.g. Diamond, 800w, Mogul, etc.) to read text captions of the conversation.

Before a call, customers simply log onto the www.sprintcaptel.com website via Mobile Internet Explorer and read a transcript of what the other party is saying in real-time (or pretty close to it). The service is also free.

Pretty cool use of WM, we have to say! Though the name WebCapTel sound like something a government bureaucrat would come up with.

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First Firefox Mobile release candidate, er, released

We explained a little while ago a few of the reasons why we're looking forward to seeing Firefox Mobile, aka Fennec. Now, it's time to start playing.

Mozilla has posted "an early developer release of the mobile version of Firefox, for testing purposes only." [via Gizmodo]

And test, we shall.

Fennec still is only actually running on a Nokia 810. But you can get a taste of it now on your desktop or laptop computer. The full version of WMExperts.com loaded without a hitch (minus Flash, of course), and I got 90 out of 100 on the Acid3 test, which is in line with those early shots we saw. Yeah, it's a release candidate on a desktop PC, but we're still starting to get goosebumps.

Check out Mozilla's alpha release page here, then get your download on, be you a Windows, Mac or Linux OS.

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Treo Pro Coming to Sprint After All

Back in May we caught a little guff for shrieking with glee when we saw the Treo 800w show up on DSL Reports. Still, though, we added the site to our arsenal of places to poke around when we're thinking about new devices. We've been checking it periodically this week (you hush) and, well, we just spotted the proverbial Sasquatch. You can head over to DSL Reports to see if you can catch the elusive beast yourself. We grabbed what we saw in the screenshot above.

That, friends, is a “Sprint Treo850e” pulling down 1060 kbps with .229s of latency on the spcsdns.net network, running MSIEMobile 6.0. The Treo 850 that we know and love is the Treo Pro. The 'e' is new to us, as is the fact that it's running on Sprint. This means one of two things is happening: Somebody is messing with your pals at WMExperts or the Treo Pro is coming to Sprint.

So, how are you Treo 800w owners feeling just now?

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Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta Gets Widgets, Updates

As a few sites around the web have predicted, Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta got itself a shiny new update this morning. They've added widgets to the browser (or is it a platform now?) and also updated their SDK for development of mobile widgets, not to mention Dragonfly, a set of on-device developer tools. All that looks pretty good to us, we're just glad they've updated wishing they would update their text wrapping to match the on-device version of Opera on the Diamond series, because the current setup is really harshing our mellow. Other notables:

  • Custom software keyboards are still a little wacky
  • No Flash (yet)
  • English Only
  • You have to keep Opera running when the widgets manager is running

You can head on over to http://www.opera.com/products/mobile/ to grab the download. Ball's now in your court, er, courts Microsoft, SkyFire, Mozilla, et al.

Thanks to Jeremy for the tip!

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Samsung Ace on Sprint Gets 6.1 and Sprint Navigation

Sprint has the Press Release directing you to head over to http://www.samsungmobileusa.com/i325/upgrade/ to get yourself the Windows Mobile 6.1 update for your Samsung Ace. You'll also get yourself some cool GPS action too, though we don't know yet if it's tied to Sprint Navigation or open to the rest of the OS.

As always with Samsung updates, follow the instructions to a T, backup, and settle in for a half hour long process at best.

Here's what we're wondering: now that the Motorola Q9c is back on Sprint, is the Samsung Ace really a good option? We know that Sprint was pushing users to the Ace when the Q9c was in limbo, too. Sure, the Ace does offer that World Phone bit, but overall the Q9c has a better keyboard and more power. Any Ace users out there loving their phone?

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Give the Xperia X1 manual a read

We still have a couple of weeks before we learn when the Xperia X1 will be released in the U.S. — but you can at least figure out how to use it in the interim.

Engadget Mobile spied the user guide (pdf link) to the long-awaited (and awaited ... and awaited) Sony Ericsson device. We'd previously seen a couple shots from the manual, but it's good to finally see the whole thing.

A couple of interesting notes:

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Federal Court Vacates Qualcomm Ban

We avoided the last turning of the Qualcomm vs. Broadcom screw because, well, it's just becoming so darn tiring. If you missed that last month, what happened is a US Appeals court affirmed that Qualcomm infringed on two Broadcomm patents and therefore needed to pay up [via Engadget]. These were related to EVDO, QChat, and video processing. Now leave that stewing in the back of your mind.

In the front of your mind, recall that we had ourselves a little panic last year as courts told Qualcomm they weren't allowed to import certain chips into the US. This was pretty bad, but Verizon decided to pony up licensing fees so they could continue to use the chips, Sprint tried to insert themselves into the conversation, and President Bush declined to stop the International Trade Commission's (ITC) ban.

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Windows Mobile Donating to Ellen for the Cure

Apple may have them commercials for the iPhone, but we have this: Microsoft is donating $10,000 in the name of Windows Mobile to Ellen for the Cure every time Ellen successfully dunks somebody in her tank. In the vid above, she dunks Audriana Partridge, who this old fogey had to look up to discover stars on The Hills.

Really, there's not much more to say about this. After the break, Jenny McCarthy and Shemar Moore. Good on ya, Microsoft. We'll turn WMExperts into a celebrity blog yet!

Thanks to Kevin for the tip! [via and via]

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