HTC Launches Tablet, Social-Network Phones

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Barcelona, Spain -

HTC

unveiled its first two smartphones with a dedicated Facebook button and its first tablet, which will access HTC's planned movie-download service and a planned cloud-base gaming service.

The three Android-based products, among six new products shown here at the Mobile World Congress, will be available in the U.S. The two smartphones will be available exclusively through AT&T sometime "later this year," and the tablet is due in the second quarter globally and in the U.S., the company said.

The tablet, equipped with Wi-Fi and HSPA+ cellular data, is likely headed for T-Mobile's network because the device operates in HSPA 14.4Mbps mode in T-Mobile's 1.7/2.1GHz AWS band and in foreign 900MHz and 2100MHz bands.

The Android-equipped 14.82-ounce tablet features 1,02 by 600 7-inch touchscreen, aluminum unibody, 1.5GHz processor, Flash 10 and HTML 5 for web browsing, and fingertip and pen interaction with the screen.

Other key features include 5-megapixel camera/camcorder with 720p HD video capture and autofocus, front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video chatting, 32MB memory, GPS, MicroSD slot, MicroUSB port, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ and stereo Bluetooth 3.0.

 It's said to weigh as much as a paperback book and fit in a jacket pocket.

 The tablet does not use the Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS optimized by Google specifically for tablets but uses a tablet-optimized version of HTC's Sense smartphone user interface on top of the new Android 2.4 OS version. It will be upgraded to Android Honeycomb in the second quarter.

The UI features a 3D homescreen and a carousel of widgets to put the user's most important content and information front-and-center.

 The tablet also features new HTC Scribe technology, a digital-ink technology that lets consumers use a stylus to handwrite notes in script, sign contracts, draw pictures, or write on a web page or photo. A related feature called Timemark lets users integrate notes taken at a meeting with audio of a recorded meeting. When a user taps on a word in the written notes, the audio of that portion of the meeting is replayed.

Notes are also integrated with the calendar.

The tablet's cloud-based gaming service will be supplied by OnLive, whose current service lets users play cloud-based games on TVs and PCs without buying dedicated gaming hardware or software. Consumers will be able to play cloud-based games on the tablet or, via Wi-Fi, on their connected TV sets. It wasn't clear if the cloud connection would be via Wi-Fi only or also via HSPA+ cellular.

 The planned HTC Watch movie-download service will feature HD movies from major studios. It wasn't clear whether movies could be downloaded over HSPA+ cellular or just over Wi-Fi.

 Flyer pricing wasn't disclosed.

 For the U.S. smartphone market, the HTC Salsa and ChaCha are targeted to social-networkers at moderate price points. They feature deep Facebook integration, including a dedicated Facebook button, and dual cameras for on-line video chats. They use 7.2Mbps high-speed HSPA cellular data, and both feature 600MHz processors and GPS.

The Salsa is a touchscreen-only phone with 3.4-inch 480 by 320 screen, while the ChaCha is a bar-type phone with hard QWERTY keyboard and a 2.6-inch 480 by 320 touchscreen.

 Other features common to both include Wi-Fi 602.11b/g/n/, stereo Bluetooth 3.0, Android Gingerbread 2.3.3 OS, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with auto focus and LED flash, and VGA front-facing camera for video chats.

 Their Facebook button is context-aware, pulsing with light whenever an opportunity exists to share content or updates through Facebook. A single button press lets users update status, upload a photo, share a website, post the name of a song that is playing, and check into a location.

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