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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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Rogers is getting set to launch their Early Hardware Upgrade Program in just under a week, on Thursday, May 5th. The program, which will allow customers to upgrade to a new device early for an additional fee, is very similar to Telus' early upgrade process. Here's how it works:

Customers who wish to upgrade early will pay $10-$20 for each month remaining until they would officially be eligible, in addition to the standard upgrade cost of the device. Exactly how much you pay for each remaining month depends on what type of device you currently have, and Rogers breaks them down into three categories; 1) voice or quick messaging devices, 2) feature devices, tablets, and smartphones, and 3) premium devices (including iPhone and BlackBerry Torch). Those with voice/QMD handsets will be charged $10 for each remaining month, while smartphone/tablet users will pay $15, and premium device users will pay $20 for each remaining month. If the contract-free price for the device comes in lower than the early upgrade costs, you will pay the lesser of the two.

For example, if you have a BlackBerry Bold 9700 and have had it for 18 months, you would pay $15 (early upgrade charge) x 6 (months remaining until standard 24-month eligibility), in addition to the normal 3-year price of the device you're upgrading to. So, you would pay $90 + the upgrade cost of the device.

One more detail was revealed in recently leaked screenshots, stating "we are also changing the standard HUP wait period, which will now vary from 18-30 months depending on the customer's current device." While the early upgrade program comes as great news, this extra little bit is vague and could be a bad thing for some people. Rogers currently has a 2 year waiting period for upgrade eligibility, so this means some people will have to wait an extra 6 months, or at least pay 6 months more of early upgrade costs. Others may benefit from it however, reaching eligibility 6 months earlier than they currently would. We'll be sure to let you know once more details become available.


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Both Virgin Mobile and parent-company Bell have officially released BlackBerry OS 6 for two of the three older devices promised to be receiving the update, the Bold 9700 and Curve 3G 9300. The new OS (v6.0.0.448) is available now for users of either of these devices, and offers up a redesigned user interface, improved search functionality, and a significantly improved WebKit browser. To get the update, head to BlackBerry.com or simply launch BlackBerry Desktop Manager with the handset connected. No word yet on exactly when the Pearl 3G 9100 version of the OS will become available, but we should see it launch sometime in the next few weeks!


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RIM have been slowly rolling out BlackBerry OS 6 to some of the more recent devices they offer, with each individual carrier packaging and releasing the updates themselves. Now, WIND Mobile customers who own either a Bold 9700 or Curve 9300 are in luck, as the quickly growing carrier has officially released the upgrade. For those who own a Pearl 9100, WIND has stated that the new OS "will be available in coming weeks". The update is available now, and can be downloaded/installed using the latest version of Desktop Manager.

In case you haven't been following the changes RIM have been implementing, BlackBerry OS 6 features a number of improvements over OS 5, including the new WebKit browser, new menu and homescreen layout, along with a variety of performance improvements overall.


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Canadians who own the Bold 9700 or Curve 3G have been experiencing a long wait for RIM's BlackBerry OS 6 to come to their devices, and oddly enough, the first carrier in Canada to go live with the new OS version is Mobilicity. BlackBerry OS 6 features a number of improvements over the previous OS 5 version, including the new WebKit browser, an updated UI, and a number of improvements to the Media player. This is definitely great news for those on Mobilicity, but those who own either of these devices from other carriers shouldn't worry too much, as official updates should be available fairly soon for all users. To download OS 6 for the Curve 3G or Bold 9700 for Mobilicity, head to BlackBerry.com


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Mobilicity has just launched the BlackBerry Bold 9780, the follow-up device to the Bold 9700, featuring BlackBerry OS 6. Featuring a 2.4" (480x360) display, the 9780 has 512MB of RAM, as well as a 5MP camera and LED flash, and connectivity options including GPS, Wi-Fi and bluetooth. OS 6 brings features like the new WebKit browser, an updated user interface, and more. The BlackBerry Bold 9780 is available now from Mobilicity for $499.99 contract-free.


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Most Canadian banks have mobile applications available for multiple platforms, including Android, Apple's iOS, and BlackBerry, so its strange that RBC hadn't launched their own. Luckily, iPhone and BlackBerry users can now download and install the RBC application, that allows users to view account balances, transfer funds, pay bills, use Interac Money Transfers, and even locate RBC branches and ATMs. The application was first launched for iPhone users, and has now been made available to BlackBerry users as well. The BlackBerry version is available for the Bold 9700 and 9000, Curve 8900, 8530, and 8520, along with the Tour 9630. To get the application for iPhone, visit App Store, or to get it for BlackBerry, simply head to mobile.rbcroyalbank.com.


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WIND Mobile has launched a pretty great promotion, offering up a free BlackBerry Pearl 9100 when you pick up a Bold 9700. Of course, an offer like this comes with some rules and requirements - the user must activate both devices, each on either the Nice Always Shout or the Always Talk plan, in addition to either the Infinite or Charged BlackBerry add-ons. Luckily, all of these plans/packages are 50% off if you sign up now, so not only do you get your second device (Pearl 3G) for free, you also get half off your monthly costs! This promotion is an in-store deal only, so head to your closest WIND Mobile location to take advantage of this offer.


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Tbaytel has officially launched their HSPA network, and along with the launch comes 25 new devices. The line-up matches Rogers pretty spot-on, but here's the full list of devices now available through Tbaytel:

Smartphones: Acer Liquid E, Apple iPhone 4 (16GB or 32GB), BlackBerry 9100 Pearl, BlackBerry 9300 Curve, BlackBerry Bold 9700, BlackBerry Torch 9800, BlackBerry Bold 9780, HTC Magic +, LG Loop, Motorola Flipout, Motorola Quench, Nokia N97 Mini, Samsung Galaxy S Captivate, Samsung Wave S5800 Sony Ericsson X10, Sony Ericsson X10 Mini

Cell Phones: LG Shine Touch, LG Xenon, Motorola VA76R, Nokia 6750, Nokia 6790 Surge, Samsung Corby Pro, Samsung Corby Touch, Sony Vivaz Pro

Portable Data Devices: Rocket Stick ZTE MF668, Novatel MiFi 2372R


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We recently let you know that Sasktel was going to launch the Bold 9780, and now they have done just that. The BlackBerry Bold 9780 is similar to the Bold 9700, but features BlackBerry 6 OS, more memory, and a 5MP camera. The Bold 9780 is available now from Sasktel for $100 on a 3 year contract, or $570 for outright purchase. What do you think about the Bold 9780? Let us know in the forums!


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