Archive for Android

Got root? The Cowon Z2 already does.

z2 root Got root? The Cowon Z2 already does.As usual with Android devices, it was only a matter of time until someone gained root access to the Cowon Z2. This time however it happened before the Z2 actually hit the market outside of Korea.

iAudiophile forum member Gungr spent some hours figuring out how to open up the Z2, so you don’t have to. So far it’s a bit of a lengthy procedure, involving setting up the Java and Android SDKs, editing info files, and some more in-depth wizardry. I’m sure a neatly packed, easy to install, rooted ROM update will follow shortly.

I don’t think I have to count the advantages of having root access on an Android device: official Android market access, ad blocking, backing up or deleting superfluous system apps, over/underclocking the CPU, and so on.

So, if you’re the lucky owner of an imported Z2, run, don’t walk over to iAudiophile and check out the instructions on how to make the most of your Z2.

[iAudiophile Cowon Z2 root access hack by Gungr]

Cowon released the D3… no wait, this time it’s called the Z2

cowonz2 Cowon released the D3... no wait, this time its called the Z2About a year after their first foray into Android fields, Cowon released the Z2 Plenue in Korea – indirectly admitting the earlier D3 being a beta product… one that customers paid dear money for.

The Z2 is basically the exact same product as the D3 with a few hardware flaws ironed out. The Z2′s 1GHz Telechips Cortex-A8 processor isn’t quite as outdated as the D3′s 750Mhz ARM11 (although it’s still far from what’s usually built into Android devices nowadays), and it has 512MB Ram, which is quite a bit more useful than the D3′s paltry 170MB (usually 60MB free). Gone is also Cowon’s proprietary 32-pin port – the Z2 sports standard MicroUSB and MicroHDMI ports. While this is generally a great update, it might however mean the Z2 doesn’t do S/PDIF-out anymore, as found on the D3′s proprietary port.

The Z2′s screen is a 3.7″ 800 x 480 AMOLED one, just like the D3′s – let’s hope Cowon used one with a real RGB subpixel matrix this time, not an inferior Pentile one. I also hope they got hardware-accelerated video contrast ratio right this time – I’m still hoping for a fix for this glaring bug in the D3… Still available on the Z2 is one of the D3′s best features over almost all other Android devices out there – plenty of tactile buttons, making usability on the go quite a lot easier than touchscreen-only controls. Battery life on the Z2 still isn’t great – 22 hours for music, 8-9 hours for video. Let’s hope those synthetic benchmark numbers are somewhat close to real-life performance.

Continue reading…

Sony’s Android Z Walkman is heading to the US of A and E of U

Z1000 black front c Sonys Android Z Walkman is heading to the US of A and E of USony’s Android-driven Z series Walkman which we talked about earlier is finally ready for launch in the western world.

Some hardware and software specs sure are a bit of a letdown – no MKV or subtitle support for video, no FLAC/Vorbis for audio, only 20 hours audio and 5 hours video battery life, no SD slot, no camera, no GPS, almost no tactile buttons, and so on.

On the other hand, the 1 GHz dual-core Tegra 2 in the X series should be beefy enough for demanding apps, and the included official Android Market makes sure you get said apps as easily as possible onto the device. All is fine on the connectivity front as well, from Wi-Fi B/G/N over Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (A2DP, AVRCP, OPP) to HDMI-out. The Z series sports Sony’s usual S-Master amp and tons of sound enhancements and EQ presets. Let’s hope those are global settings, like on the Cowon D3, so any 3rd party app can access them as well.

Considering Sony’s competition in the Android non-phone market, ranging from various inexpensive Archos devices to Samsung Galaxy Players, the price of the Z sure isn’t the biggest bargain, with the 8 GB model going for $250, the 16 GB one for $280, and the 32 GB bigwig for $330. Remember: no SD slot available.

On a side note, I wonder how that “Eurphoric” typo managed to sneak into Sony’s official press image on the right… I would recommend MP3Tag for future press shots.

[Sony press release (with full specs sheet) via Engadget]

iBasso DX100 Android audio player announced

ibassodx100 iBasso DX100 Android audio player announced

There have been more than a handful of so-called “high end” audio players released by Chinese manufacturers, and they all have a few things in common: horrible user interface and usability, pathetic internal storage size, no support for audio features like gapless playback, Replaygain, playlists, and so on. Not to mention, the claim that those devices sound any “better” than the next quality brand player has yet to be proven.

Leaving the subjective sound quality debate out of the picture, iBasso, well known manufacturer of portable headphone amps, seems to show other “audiophile” brands how it could be done better when it comes to designing a portable player. While still sporting an immense brick form factor like its Hifiman, Colorfly, and HiSound peers, iBasso realized that user interfaces cobbled together by some hacker kids in their spare time are worthless – so they did the smart thing and put Android on their DX100. This should hopefully enable the usage of Rockbox, Poweramp, Player Pro, or other quality software for audio playback. It is not known at the moment if the DX100 will sport Wi-Fi or other connectivity.

Internal storage apparently goes up to a whopping 64GB, and a MicroSD slot is available as well. Here’s where the question about the price of the DX100 should come up. Good question, I know as much as you do – just that it probably will be a bit more than what a Sansa Clip goes for. Continue reading…

Custom Kernel and ROM available for the European Galaxy S Wifi 4.0

galaxy voodoo Custom Kernel and ROM available for the European Galaxy S Wifi 4.0Forum member SteveS cooked up a custom kernel and ROM for the European version of the Galaxy S Wifi 4.0. Note that this won’t work on the American or Korean version of the Galaxy (yet), nor on the Galaxy S Wifi 5.0.

Besides gaining root/superuser access to the device and various interface tweaks, this ROM includes the Voodoo sound patch, effectively fixing Samsung’s botched audio output. Voodoo fixes the amplification gain for less background hiss and louder output, and – similar to Cowon players – adds a hardware parametric EQ and a hardware 3D spatialization effect for the Wolfson audio CODEC as well.

Kernel changelog

  • Based on Original XXKPQ Kernel
  • Added Voodoo sound patches
  • Can work with XXKPN and XXKPQ stock Samsung ROM.
  • To use Voodoo sound you need to install Voodoo Control or Voodoo Control Plus

ROM changelog

  • Contains the latest STeVE’s Kernel 1.0: you don’t need to flash separately
  • Based on original XXKPQ Samsung stock ROM
  • Contains root and superuser permissions
  • Tweaked theme: Honeycomb status bar icons, transparent notification pane, ICS windows effects
  • CRT screen off animation
  • If you start from a XXKPN or XXKPQ you can skip wipe to keep your existing applications and settings

Check Steve’s forum thread for discussion and download links.

Motorola Motoactv is for outdoorsy people

MOTOACTV Wristband Motorola Motoactv is for outdoorsy peopleNo wonder Motorola is releasing one Android device after another, being acquired by Google and all. What is a bit more bewildering is the rather uncanny resemblance of the new Motoactv to the current generation iPod nano.

The Motoactv’s feature set however distinguishes itself quite a bit from Apple’s oversized Mickey Mouse wrist watch. Besides being a music player with Bluetooth 4.0 support (running headphone wires up your sleeve sure would be awkward) and 1-inch touch screen, it features GPS, a heart rate monitor, and lots of fancy software to track your workout progress. The results can also be uploaded to Motorola’s Motoactv website for analysis. The device also works with other ANT+ aware heart rate sensors, sports an FM radio, and comes in sizes of 8 or 16GB ($249 and $299, respectively). Battery life is said to be between 5 and 10 hours with all features in use. The wrist band can be removed; an arm band is also available.

[Press release via CNET] Thanks to Marvin for the tip.

Samsung Galaxy Player 4.0 and 5.0 have finally been released

sgp45 Samsung Galaxy Player 4.0 and 5.0 have finally been released

Already announced in January 2011, it took good old Sammy long enough to get these 4″ and 5″ 480×800 screen things on the American market. Speaking of market: contrary to Cowon’s D3 and Archos’ Generation 8, Samsung’s phones-without-a-phone come with the official Android Market installed. The long wait for the Galaxy Players’ release also paid off on the operating system side of things – both players run on Android 2.3.5, which is one of the more recent ‘Gingerbread’ versions. Besides the usual variety of codecs and containers found on Android devices, the Galaxy players support MKV, FLV, OGG Vorbis, and FLAC as well.

Hardware specs are quite exhaustive. With front and rear cameras both shutterbugs and chatterbugs should be happy; GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, and Wi-Fi B/G/N are present as well. Not to mention a very necessary MicroSDHC slot – since internal capacity is only a pathetic 8GB for both players. Samsung claims the 2500mAh battery in the Galaxy 5.0 should last up to 60 hours for music playback, which sounds a bit implausible. Eight hours video playback seems more realistic, though. The Galaxy 4.0 runs on a 1200mAh battery and should presumably deliver 54 hours for music and five hours for video.

[Amazon: Galaxy Player 4.0 | Galaxy Player 5.0] Thanks to Lagoo56 for the tip.

Cowon D3 Plenue Review

cowond3 00main Cowon D3 Plenue Review

Many reviews have already been written about the Cowon D3. Mine’s certainly late to the party, but for good reason: after seeing the somewhat underwhelming performance of the D3 with its initial Android 2.1 firmware, I told myself to wait until the release of the inevitable 2.3 upgrade before I give the D3 a closer look.

Now that yummy ‘Gingerbread’ has arrived on Cowon’s first foray into the smartphone-without-a-phone realms, there’s no more holding back. Continue reading…

Sony Z1000 Android media player announced in Japan

sony z1000 Sony Z1000 Android media player announced in JapanNow this is a bit of a surprise, Sony announcing an Android media player that isn’t a phone, next to their Xperia models. It might be released as late as 2012, and maybe it stays in Japan – but we sure wouldn’t mind an international release.

The Z1000 looks like the much needed upgrade for the slightly outdated X1000, which was Sony’s first foray into touch screen media players. It runs on Android 2.3, has a 4.3″ 480×800 screen (of unknown technology), Bluetooth 2.1, Wifi B/G/N, no camera or SD slot, and comes in capacities up to 64GB. Knowing Sony’s usual modus operandi, these larger capacities probably won’t make it to North American shores…

So far it sounds quite a bit like the Cowon D3, but the audio and video codec support of the Z1000 sure seems a bit meager: MP3, AAC, WMA, and – of utmost importance – ATRAC for audio. On the video side we get MPEG4, h264 (Baseline only), and WMV support up to 1080p resolution. Well, let’s just hope VLC for Android is out when the Z1000 is going to be released.

Before I forget it, the one thing that decidedly doesn’t resemble the Cowon D3 is the processor used in the Z1000: a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 with 512MB RAM. Let’s see if the claimed battery life of 20 hours for audio and 5 hours for video can be reached in reality…

Thanks to TheFaze for the tip. Sony Z Series website (in Japanese), with lots of juicy product shots.

Cowon D3 Gets Android 2.3 Update

cowond3gingerbread1 Cowon D3 Gets Android 2.3 UpdateAfter a long time being held back by Android 2.1, the D3 recently got an upgrade to version 2.3, usually referred to as Gingerbread by the cool kids.

It should make the device faster, more responsive, and improve system stability. Of course Cowon also packed in some new functionality (sleep timer, plug-in codec support, search widget, VoIP) and fixed some bugs under the hood.

Proud D3 owners, head on over to Cowon Global to download the update and give your player a serious boost in usability.

Thanks to Copperface for the tip.