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Looking to take advantage of all that Android and Skype have to offer, LG has created a Skype Edition of the LG Optimus Black, and Telus is set to carry it. They officially announced that the device is Coming soon, though no specific date has been provided as of yet.

The Optimus Black runs on Android 2.2 Froyo at launch, and features a 4" (480x800) touchscreen display. It is powered by a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, and comes with 2GB of onboard storage. It also features a 5MP rear-facing camera with LED flash and 720p HD video capture, in addition to a front-facing 2MP camera. As for connectivity, the Optimus Black has Wi-Fi (b, g, n, and hotspot), bluetooth, and GPS.

No word yet on pricing for the "first Skype branded phone on the Canadian market", though you will apparently get 60 minutes worth of international Skype calling credits at purchase. Additional credits can be billed to your monthly Telus invoice, making this a truly unique option for Skype users.


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Just under a month ago, Rogers launched the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY, the world's first PlayStation certified mobile device. The PLAY runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and has an impressive range of features. It has a 4" (480x854) touchscreen display, and is powered by a 1GHz processor, along with 512MB of RAM. It has a 5MP camera along with a VGA front facing camera for video calling. Sony Ericsson has included their custom UI/launcher TimeScape, which has changed dramatically since the X10 line-up. The most unique feature is its PlayStation style game pad, which can be used for a variety of PLAY optimized games including PS1 Classics. So, how does the PLAY hold up as a smartphone and for gaming?

Beginning with the hardware, the PLAY is very nicely designed. It is a little bit thick compared to most current devices, but that is expected with the full game pad hidden under the screen. It has 3.5mm headset and microUSB ports on the left edge, while the right edge holds the volume and shoulder keys. Even though the casing is made of plastic, it feels relatively sturdy and durable, and the sliding mechanism is surprisingly solid. When you slide out the game pad, the PLAY really starts to shine, bringing that familiar PlayStation feel to your phone. The device fits fairly well in your hands when slid open, but might take a little bit of getting used to. The touchpads meant for use where joysticks or analog sticks would normally come into play, are a nice addition to the controls, though very strange to use at first. Like most gamers know, any new controller design takes some time to get completely accustomed to, and the PLAY's game pad is no exception. Still, it really brought a new element to mobile gaming, one previously found only in devices like the PSP or Nintendo DS. After using the Xperia PLAY, games on touchscreen-only devices seem weak and difficult to play, so beware when trying out your friend's new PLAY.




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The games themselves are entertaining, and the PLAY comes with 6 full version titles built-in: NFL 11, Star Battalion HD, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Crash Bandicoot, Fifa 10, and Tetris. There are 5 more PS1 games available for purchase in Market for $5.75 USD each, and about 50 other PLAY optimized games and apps. Crash Bandicoot ran well and gives a great idea of what PS1 games will be like on the device. The sports games (Madden NFL 11 and FIFA 10) are great fun, and far more complex than you might think, and the other games were just as entertaining and immersive. Unfortunately Tetris didn't make use of the slide-out controls, but it is a simple enough game that the touchscreen is fine.




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As a smartphone alone, the PLAY runs just as well as most current Android handsets. OS 2.3 Gingerbread performs well, and TimeScape doesn't seem to have as strong of an impact on performance as with the X10. The application tray features custom sorting, and there are a variety of widgets pre-installed. There are media widgets that include music controls, shortcuts, and a scrolling image/video wheel. There are also a couple of clock widgets available, all of which can be used on any of the 5 home screens.

Other parts of the device that are worth mentioning include the display and camera. The display isn't very bright when turned all the way up, though it can get you by. To those who normally enjoy very bright and crisp displays like super AMOLED equipped devices may be let down however. The Camera is of decent quality, coming in at 5MP with an LED flash. It actually handles close-up shots very well, though mid and long range photos are of average quality. It can also record video at WVGA resolution, and surprisingly doesn't capture at 720p. Videos recorded with the PLAY are also average, looking great on your mobile screen but mediocre on larger displays.




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Lastly, battery life. The PLAY surprisingly held up very well, lasting longer than many devices in the current market. Even while gaming for a few hours, the battery indicator only dropped a sliver. Unfortunately it still doesn't compare to the life of the BlackBerry Bold 9700 or a few other devices, but considering its large screen and game pad, does very well.

Overall, the Xperia PLAY is a great device. It is a full-featured Android smartphone and really makes mobile gaming possible. Kudos to Sony Ericsson for producing a great, and very unique device! Hopefully they continue to create great handsets that stand-out and bring a new element to smartphones.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY is available from Rogers for $99.99 on a 3 year term or $549.99 contract free.


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Competition has been roaring in Canada when it comes to unlimited plans and offerings, and most carriers are doing their part by introducing affordable packages. Virgin Mobile is certainly no exception, as they have recently launched new $35 and $45 Unlimited plans. The $35 Unlimited City Calling Plan is available only for CDMA handsets, and only in major cities including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. It offers up unlimited local calling, along with unlimited Canadian, U.S., and international text messaging.

The $45 Unlimited Calling Plan is available for all handsets and in all locations (except Manitoba and Saskatchewan), and offers up unlimited local calling, unlimited Canadian, U.S., and international text messaging, along with call display. Additionally, any data or long-distance packages are eligible to be added on to the $45 plan, so it's a great starting point for customers looking to build a personalized solution. Both of these packages are officially available now, so get in contact with Virgin Mobile if you're interested!


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KOODO Mobile has launched a new Unlimited Incoming Plus Combo plan for $35/monthly, which offers unlimited incoming calls, unlimited evenings and weekends starting at 5pm, unlimited text and picture messaging, local family calling, call display, and up to 150 anytime minutes. This new offer is only available for a limited time, so those who are interested will have to get in touch with KOODO by May 31st of this year. Nice to see carriers stepping up the competition with unlimited offerings, hopefully it continues!


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We recently let you know that Sony Ericsson was planning to launch a new PSP-style phone, the "Play", and now we're happy to report confirmation that Rogers will be launching the new device. Along with the confirmation regarding the Play, it looks like a second Ericsson handset will be coming to Rogers, the Arc. No word yet on pricing or an exact release date for either of these devices, but a "Spring 2011" launch has been confirmed.

The Play, which features PSP-style controls that slide out horizontally in place of a QWERTY keybaord, runs on Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread, and features a 4" (480x854) touchscreen display, a 5MP camera with LED flash, a front facing camera for video calling, and more. The Arc is also an impressive handset, featuring a 4.2"(480x854) touchscreen display, Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread, and an 8MP camera with LED flash and 720p HD video capture. Both of these upcoming handsets are powered by 1GHz processors, and feature connectivity options including Wi-Fi, bluetooth, and GPS.


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The Samsung Infuse, a 4G device headed to AT&T in the United States, has been confirmed to be coming to Canada. The Infuse 4G features a 4.5" (450x800) "Super AMOLED Plus" touch screen display, and runs Android 2.2 at launch. Powered by a 1.2GHz processor, the Infuse also comes with an 8MP camera with LED flash and 1080p HD video recording capabilities, and has an addition front-facing 1.3MP camera for video calling. No word yet on when the device will arrive, or which carrier it will be available from, but we'll be sure to keep you posted!


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KOODO, Virgin Mobile, and Solo have all launched new $50 Unlimited No Zone monthly price plans, which are all basically the same. Each offers up unlimited local calls, along with unlimited text/picture messaging. Virgin Mobile and Solo are giving subscribers who choose this plan unlimited international text and picture messaging as well, while KOODO is throwing in unlimited local family calling. Virgin Mobile and Solo's plans are available until January 1st, 2011, while KOODO has this offer on until December 31st.


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We've seen most major carriers introduce great price plans in Quebec, and now it seems that the offers are making their to Winnipeg. The Unlimited Voice Winnipeg plan, which is now available from Telus, offers up unlimited local and Manitoba-wide long distance when in Winnipeg, unlimited nationwide family calling, voice mail, call waiting, and conference calling. The offer is available until December 31st of this year, so if you live in Winnipeg and make a lot of calls, check out Telus this month.


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Both KOODO and Virgin Mobile have recently introduced new $35 incoming plans, that are similar, but not exactly alike. Virgin Mobile's $35 plan includes: unlimited local incoming calls, unlimited evenings and weekends starting at 6pm, unlimited text messaging, 150 anytime minutes, and call display. The KOODO $35 plan offers: unlimited incoming calls, unlimited 6pm evenings and weekends, unlimited text and picture messaging, unlimited local family calling, up to 150 anytime minutes, call display, call waiting, conference calling, and per-second billing. Nice to see carriers responding to competition by offering better plans, keep it up!


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New entrant Mobilicity has just launched their network in two more major cities today, Edmonton and Vancouver, and has officially confirmed the Ottawa launch will take place tomorrow. Along with the launch comes 100 retail outlets throughout Vancouver, and 20 locations in both Edmonton and Ottawa. This makes 5 cities for Mobilicity and should help them grow!

In addition to the new network launches, Mobilicity has also slimmed down their price plan line-up to just 3 packages. None of the price plans come with data, so customers who wish to get data access will have to subscribe to the new $10 data add-on. The 3 new price plans are:

$25/monthly: Unlimited Local Calling, Text and Picture Messaging, Caller I.D., and Mobilicity to Mobilicity Calling.

$35/monthly: Unlimited Local Calling, Text and Picture Messaging, Caller I.D., Mobilicity to Mobilicity Calling, Voicemail, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, 3 Way Calling, and Province Wide Long Distance.

$45/monthly: Unlimited Local Calling, Text and Picture Messaging, Caller I.D., Mobilicity to Mobilicity Calling, Voicemail, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, 3 Way Calling, Province Wide Long Distance, Canadian Long Distance, U.S. Long Distance, and Global Text Messaging.


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