Thursday, 17 June 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

Win an iPhone 4 on Electricpig

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 11:00 AM PDT

We’ve smashed our Electricpiggy bank to buy an iPhone 4 32GB that we’re going to give away to one lucky reader. We didn’t want to ask Apple or any other firm to stump up the prize. No, we want you to know this is brought to you from the bottom of our little piggy heart. But if you want to win Apple’s newest super phone you’re going to have to convince us why you should have it more than your fellow Electricpig reader. Read on to find out how to enter this amazing competition.

This morning we were feeling particularly gushy about you lot, our beloved readership, so we decided to scrabble our pennies together and bought a black iPhone 32GB to giveaway (click on the gallery above if you want to see the purchase confirmation receipt – yes, we missed the first batch, but it does say it’ll ship by 2nd July, in plenty of time for our competition closing date of, you guessed it, the 2nd of July).

Does this particularly handsome iPhone 4 have your name written all over it? Is there a reason you should win it over everyone else? If so, we want to hear about it. Entertain us, inspire us, and tell us why you should win the iPhone 4.

How to enter

Step 1

Think up a brilliant reason why you should win an iPhone 4. We want to be impressed, so be creative folks!

Step 2

This bit is important, as your entry will only be valid if you follow the rules. So pay close attention peeps.

1. Write the reason you should win in our comments section below, BUT DON’T POST IT JUST YET…

2. Before you post your reason make sure you sign in using your FACEBOOK login, THEN…

3. Once you’re logged in, tick the little icon in the bottom left that says Share on Facebook – when a little green tick appears on the Facebook icon you know it’s worked. THEN…

4. Hit the POST button and you’re done! :)

While you’re in the mood why not visit Electricpig on Facebook and hit the LIKE button.

Competition closing date: Friday 2nd of July 2010
Any entries after the closing date are not valid.

Competition rules
Terms and conditions

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World Cup Twitter woes: site promises no missed matches

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:03 AM PDT

World Cup Twitter traffic has been causing the site a whole heap of trouble. If you've been frustrated while trying to post witty quips about North Korea or have noticed your number of tweets suddenly take a tumble, Twitter has headed to its official blog to explain why. Read on for the background behind the World Cup Twitter problems and its promise that the service won't miss any matches…

While getting a little football appended to every tweet tagged with #worldcup is fun, Twitter users have been grinding their teeth too with the service falling over more often than an Italian striker. In its blog post, Twitter says June has been its worst month since October 2009.

Downtime reporting site Pingdom shows that Twitter has been down for 5 hours and 22 minutes so far during June. The last time it was so unreliable was in August 2009 when it fell over for a total of 6 hours and 56 minutes. It may yet match that record: we're only half way through the month with plenty more scope for World Cup Twitter frenzies felling the site.

Twitter says: "We are making real time adjustments so that we can grow our capacity and avoid outages during the World Cup." It's now planning maintenance over the next two weeks which will put the site out of action but has promised that it won't do any fiddling during matches: "We will not perform this work during World Cup games and will provide advance notification."

If you're worried that your World Cup Twitter words of wisdom won't make it out into the world, keep your eyes trained on the Twitter Status blog.

Let us know: have you been tweeting during the World Cup? Does it add to the experience or is it as distracting as the drone of the Vuvuzela?

Out now | £free | Twitter

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Mac Mini review: What do you want to know?

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 07:35 AM PDT

We’re putting the new Mac Mini through its paces right now, throwing video at it and checking out its graphical prowess. We’ll have a full review for you shortly, but before we do, we want to hear what’s got you intrigued. What do you want to know about it? Tell us, and help shape the review!

The new Mac Mini’s been given a brand new role in your living room courtesy of the HDMI port on it: it’ll slot straight into any new HDTV to put internet video and more on the screen in front of your sofa.

New Mac Mini unboxed: photos

But along with the spec bump, and extra ports, the new Mac Mini has gone up in price too -  at £649, the most “affordable” Snow Leopard computer is now nipping at the heels of the plastic MacBook, which has a rather useful screen too.

So are you considering the new Mac Mini for your living room? Whatever your concerns, we’re here to help. Want to know how it handles HD Flash video? If it’s really a replacement for your set top boxes? Is Blu-ray sorely missing?

Whatever you want to know about the new Mac Mini, just jot your burning questions down right here and look for our full review coming soon.

Out Now | £from 649 | Apple

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Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 07:15 AM PDT

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini debuted way back in February, but the Japanese-Swedish phone peddler has only just managed to get the tiny, tiny device on sale. Android's not been a huge hit on small screens so far, but has the company's software skin solved those problems? Read on and find out in our full Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review.

Read the rest of our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Android 1.6 downsized
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Micro size, build and screen

Just when you thought Android phones couldn't get any smaller than the 2.8-inch HTC Tattoo, along comes the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini. We've seen "Mini" versions of phones in the past, but there's no preparing for just how small the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is. It's not especially thin, but it's so shockingly short (8.3cm) that it really will make you pat your pockets down to check a vital part hasn't fallen off. And despite this, Sony Ericsson has managed to craft an impressively usable smartphone experience – though one that's perhaps too powerful for its speed and screen size to require.

The name is almost a bit misleading, as though the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is small, it's no pure port of the UX skin on the 4-inch Xperia X10. It uses the same Timescape contacts software, and runs the same Android 1.6 core OS underneath but that's where the similarities end. Sony Ericsson's completely remodeled it to fit the tiny 2.55-inch screen size, introducing useful UI elements like corner pockets on the screen for opening important apps, and making drastic but necessary decisions like limiting one widget per homescreen, and cutting out the full QWERTY keyboard in favour of a highly intelligent 0-9 numberpad.

You can read more about the Android skin in the in depth section of our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review, but it works a treat, so long as you're prepared to accept the slower typing speed. Timescape hoovers up your contacts in a finger friendly way, and even though the version of Android it's running is far out of date (Googe's powered ahead to 2.2), version 1.6 isn't as much of a dealbreaker here as it is on the larger X10. Google Maps Navigation still works (though you will need a magnifying glass), and most apps have QVGA resolution support and will open fine on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini. And above all, it's really fast. We've seen no sign of slowdown while happily multitasking away, and the battery life is good for a day and half, even with the Wi-Fi on.

There's no avoiding the size though. While Android will let you circumvent some of the issues with superb voice search (Which does work with British accents for queries, rest assured, if not dictating emails), it's a very unpleasant size to read web pages, and the browser renders them rather poorly too. Combined with the 0-9 keyboard, this really is a phone for those who want a stylish device for a handbag and a bit of social networking banter. If you want speed and power, go get a Dell Streak.

But even for this target audience, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini leaves us scratching our heads a bit. If you really do want a phone just to pop in your handbag, with no QWERTY keyboard, it's a shame you have to pay on contract over as long as two years for all the horsepower you might not really need. We're certainly not saying the too cheap T-Mobile Pulse Mini is the better option, but Sony Ericsson could have whittled a few specs out (The rather splendid camera for instance), and even dare we say it, slowed the system down to get it onto lower tariffs.

Or it could just stick on a physical QWERTY keyboard, which is precisely what it has done with the upcoming Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro. That should more than sate anyone who wants a true pocket messaging phone, so we suggest holding off until then unless you're absolutely sure you can cope with typing at slower speeds.

Review sample supplied by

Read the rest of our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Android 1.6 downsized
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Micro size, build and screen

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Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Micro size, build and screen

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 07:14 AM PDT

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini's overwhelming (or rather underwhelming) size really is the first thing that strikes you when you pluck it from it cardboard confines for the first time. It's unbelievably small for an Android smartphone. But do its dinky dimensions result in a usable phone? Read on and find out in this part of our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review.

Read the rest of our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Android 1.6 downsized

Though there are some hints of design trace from the much larger Xperia X10, you really won't have seen anything quite like the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini. It's just over eight centimetres long, weighs only 88g, and yet still packs in a lot of the kit you'd expect from broader handsets, like Wi-Fi, GPS, a very respectable five megapixel camera with flash (and a great on screen visual guide to the different shooting modes), a capacitive touchscreen and a respectable battery life.

There's no doubt that the design of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini will prove divisive. Some will go crazy for its cute size, but others will mark it down for the angular edges. It's not especially thin either (16mm) and the shorter dimensions otherwise really show this up: what you're left with is something that reminds us ever so slightly of our stumpy big toes.

Still we can't complain about build quality much otherwise. Call quality is great, the speaker isn't too fuzzy, the smooth back stubbornly refuses to accept fingerpints, there's a 3.5mm audio slot on the bottom, and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini generally feels like it'll survive a drop to the concrete. Oh, except for the micro USB port: it's hidden by a hinged door we genuinely had to use a pencil to prise open. No need, Sony Ericsson!

As you'd expect though, the real focus is on the screen. It may be small, at 2.55-inches, but it still hogs most of the space on the front of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini. Viewing angles aren't exactly brilliant, and it's almost impossible to see in sunlight, but the colours are deep and rich when held at the right distance, and because it's a capacitive display, it's vastly more responsive than the screens of both the T-Mobile Pulse Mini and HTC Tattoo. It doesn't miss a beat, although Android 1.6 rules out multitouch gesture support: the screen is capable of recognising pinch to zoom gestures (As seen on the iPhone and top end HTC Android phones), but the software is not. You'll have to hold down and slide to zoom on pictures, or use the magnifying glass in the web browser.

While it's just about as good as a touchscreen gets for its size, the display on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is certainly its biggest problem, as battery life is respectable, and we had no signs of slowdown with the 600MHz CPU inside. The QVGA resolution (320×240) simply makes reading text on web pages a real chore. Granted, BlackBerrys have similar sized screens, but new RIM phones have a much sharper pixel density, and a landscape orientation. On the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, you can see the graininess on text, you simply can't fit many words on a line, and to make matters worse the browser won't work in landscape, even though there's an accelerometer inside the phone quite capable of flipping over pictures this way. It's also a headache for Google Maps Navigation, the free satnav software, which works, but looks dreadful.

This is the sticking point for us – surprisingly, typing is not. The decision to offer only a 0-9 onscreen pad, combined with the responsive screen and Sony Ericsson's auto suggest software, make it very easy to thumb out messages: if you're looking for more than that, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is not for you (Though the upcoming Pro version may well be).

If you're looking for a tiny phone, packed with enough power to glance at what your friends are saying, and pull out Google Maps or another app in an emergency, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is right at the top of the pile. It's smoother than anything from INQ, Nokia or Motorola for a similar audience – it's just a shame that you'll pay a fair whack for the privilege, when you'll have to squint more.

Review sample supplied by

Read the rest of our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Android 1.6 downsized

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Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Android 1.6 downsized

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 07:14 AM PDT

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is a bit late on the scene with Android 1.6 (Or Donut), the smartphone software first released in September last year. Since then we've seen three major updates, so can the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini still stay relevant with a fast aging OS? Read on and find out in this part of our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review.

Read the rest of our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Micro size, build and screen

Last week, we proclaimed the Dell Streak the best Android 1.6 device on the planet, and after extensive testing, we can report that the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini doesn't change this. But, they're for two very different markets: the Dell Streak tablet is for powerusers, while the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini is for those who want a tiny phone first and foremost, with enough smartphone bells and whistles to get by. And in this respect, Sony Ericsson's UX skin draped over the top of Google's OS is superb.

While we weren't quite happy with the skin on the larger Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 (Its Timescape and Mediascape apps didn't do much to better stock Android), it's a godsend on a screen as small as the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini's 2.55 inch panel. The capacitive display is bright and responsive, but the laws of physics and the size of adult fingers mean you won't get a great deal done with regular Android at that size.

Sony's skin amends this excellently. You still have homescreens on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, but they're limited to one widget per page to avoid cramping things up (No real problem since swiping across is so speedy). The corner icons – curved icons that stick to the edges on the homescreens and can be set to your most used apps and triggered at any time – are a great addition too, and can be easily opened with a press of even a chunky thumb.

In fact, this is by far the most impressive feat of the Sony Ericsosn Xperia X10 Mini. It's the first Android phone you can really use in one hand. It's small enough to fit in the palm, can be navigated with the hand gripping it, and the keyboard is perfect for this method of input. There's no onscreen QWERTY, but a highly intelligent and responsive 0-9 keyboard, which suggests words on the fly and can be taught new ones easily. It's a sensible cull, but there's no avoiding the fact that you won't reach typing speeds on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini that you will on a HTC Legend, so if that's an issue, you'd be better off at least waiting for the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro to hit.

Alongside this, the Timescape app has made it into the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini. Log into to Facebook and Twitter, and lo, up pop your friends' status feeds and conversations in a delightful layout (Think Cover Flow for faces) which can be cycled through at frankly what feels a faster speed than the original X10. We'd go so far as to say Timescape is actually better suited to the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, since it doesn't open shortlinks (Instead taking you to the status page in the browser) – much less of an issue on a smaller phone where you really do want to just glimpse what your friends are saying.

The other Sony Ericsson unique Android app, Mediascape, is semi present in a nameless form under the music icon. It still looks undeniably pretty, and the infinity button above cover art when you're playing a song will pull up relevant YouTube videos, but videos and pictures get their own separate folders noow and no similar button this time. It's by no means a biggie, as the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini's screen is much too small to enjoy either – and Sony Ericsson hasn't improved upon Android's very basic multimedia support at all. We'd also have liked to see a way to change tracks with the volume rocker button, but you have to unlock it to get to the controls sadly, and cover art changes very slowly sometimes.

Small kinks aside, Android 1.6 really does have larger limitations. Although the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini has an accelerometer that will kick in for viewing photos, it won't for web pages, which is baffling. There's also no multitouch for pinching the screen to zoom in and out, though the magnifying glass works very smoothly for top level panning over a website, and lastly, you can only sync one Google account in Gmail – if you have one for home and work, this is a small nuisance. These issues have all been rectified with Android 2.0 and above, which may annoy some: with this skin, you'll always be behind the latest feature set Google's crafted.

There is a silver lining. Sony Ericsson says an Android 2.1 update is coming for the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini in just a few months, but if that's what's holding you back, we wouldn't splash out until we see hard proof – HTC's attempt to update the HTC Hero from Android 1.5 to 2.1 has been bogged down with endless delays. And it's not 2.2, the latest update which brings speed boosts and Flash streaming video support.

But while these really are concerns for anyone ogling a hefty HTC Desire or a Dell Streak, it shouldn't be for the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini's target audience: if you're an internet grazer rather than internet user, who sends more texts than emails from their phone, the software's finely tuned for you.

Review sample supplied by

Read the rest of our Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini review: Micro size, build and screen

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Nintendo: more Mario and retro game remakes aren’t enough

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 07:05 AM PDT

Nintendo has got such a big pile of plaudits for the Nintendo 3DS announcement and the games it unveiled during its E3 2010 keynote that criticising it feels like turning up at a birthday party and stomping on the cake. But I'm not afraid to be a gaming grouch so I'll come straight out and say it: pushing out new instalments of familiar franchises, reviving retro classics and mistreating Mario once again left me disappointed…

After the joyous invention of Super Mario Galaxy 2, seeing gaming's most famous…alright…only famous plumber once again shoehorned into another sports game in Mario Sports Mix is painful. Making Mario play volleyball is pretty undignified after all he's done in service of the Mushroom Kingdom. Wasn't Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympics enough?

Then there's Link strapping on his shield and picking up his sword once again in Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and the doddering old Donkey Kong Country franchise dragged out from the undergrowth. They'll please nostalgic fans but they also smack of a lack of new ideas. It seems Wii owners are destined to always be fed the console equivalent of comfort food.

The same goes for Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D and GoldenEye 007. I was besotted with GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 as much as the next teenage boy but can't we have a brand new Bond title? If you're slipping Daniel Craig into Piers Brosnan's virtual tux, a different storyline wouldn't go amiss too.

I understand why some gamers are so joyful about the latest batch of Nintendo announcements. Solid Snake, Link, Mario and Bond are like familiar friends. I just think that Nintendo and game developers in general should be trying a little bit harder. Of course characters like Sonic and Mario have an enduring appeal but continually falling back on them is taking the easy route.

Just as Nintendo is trying to introduce innovation in its hardware with the Nintendo 3DS, it should be offering up some more new characters and franchises for us to love. Not all of us are so eager to go on yet another quest with Link. In fact, as time wears on the Legend of Zelda just gets less and less legendary.

Take a look at the Nintendo E3 keynote highlights and hit the comments. Are you happy to feast on Nintendo's retro treats or like me are you gagging for some truly new adventures?

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Nintendo 3DS: 10 things you didn’t know

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 06:57 AM PDT

The Nintendo 3DS is one of the undoubted highlights of E3 2010, delighting show attendees with its 3D skills, improved design and impressive line-up of forthcoming games. But there are a few things about it you may have missed in the excitement – read on for the lowdown on some of the Nintendo 3DS's traits and talents.

1. No glasses required
The Nintendo 3DS sports an auto-stereoscopic, or lenticular, screen, so you don't need to wear active or polarised glasses to get the stereo effect – it's fully visible with the naked eye. This is impressive for two main reasons: first, no goofy specs (yay!); second, there's no dulling of the image due to you viewing it through a slightly tinted layer of glass – it's bright and rich.

2. Adjustable 3D
A 2D-to-3D slider allows you to adjust the level of 3D effect shown on the Nintendo 3DS's screen, and see the change come into effect in real time. That's mighty clever, not to mention cool in a geeky way.

3. 3D camera
You don't need to shell out big bucks on a Fujifilm Finepix Real3D camera to snap 3D photos: you can do it on the (relatively cheap) Nintendo 3DS, thanks to its built-in 3D camera (or rather, two cameras). Focus and 3D depth can be adjusted.

4. 3D is for more than just games
Hollywood is getting in on the Nintendo 3DS action, and Dreamworks, Disney and Warner Bros will all be serving up 3D movies to watch on the go.

5. It's sensitive
There's both an accelerometer and a gyro sensor built into the Nintendo 3DS, so it's the most motion and orientation sensitive games console so far (unless you count the iPhone 4, which is fair enough). We haven't yet seen how Nintendo and other developers are going to use this tech, but it's bound to offer some interesting new control input methods.

6. It's as powerful as a Dreamcast – or maybe even a PS2
That's the early verdict of gaming tech specialists Digital Foundry, who reckon the Nintendo 3DS jumps ahead of the Sony PSP as the most graphically powerful handheld console around.

7. DLC via Wi-Fi
The Nintendo 3DS will be able to communicate with other Nintendo kit, such as the Wii, via Wi-Fi – even when it's in sleep mode. That means you can link games and grab downloadable content without even having to think about it.

8. Analogue thumbpad
The Nintendo 3DS's new analogue thumbpad allows for a far greater range of control in games, which can only be a good thing. It's also a nice large size.

9. SD card slot
Nintendo has finally embraced the ubiquitous SD card format, which should allow you to get media and other content onto the Nintendo 3DS with a minimum of fuss.

10. Only one touchscreen
If you were expecting twin touchscreens this time, think again. Only the lower screen is touch sensitive, which probably makes sense when you consider touching the upper screen would likely shatter the 3D illusion.

Out TBC | £TBC | Nintendo

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MSI Wind Top AE2400: 3D multitouch all-in-one PC

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 06:26 AM PDT

The freshly announced MSI Wind Top AE2400 is an all-in-one PC with a couple of head-turning traits. First, like the recently revealed Sony VAIO J Series, it sports multitouch talents, allowing you to select, drag and resize on-screen objects using one or more fingers.

The second grandstand feature is also related to the 23.6-inch 16:9 screen: it can deliver 3D games, thanks to the 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon graphics card inside. There's also a UVD video processing engine that, according to MSI, allows the MSI Wind Top AE2400 to serve up great-looking Blu-ray, H.264, VC-1, YouTube and MPEG-2 hi-def videos.

On the audio front the MSI Wind Top AE2400 boasts "hi-fi class" stereo speakers and a 10W subwoofer. Also on board is a webcam, card reader, Wi-Fi, Windows 7 Home Premium, 4GB of memory and 1TB of hard disk storage. Processing is handled by a Pentium E5400 CPU.

Out TBC | £949.99 | MSI

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Blackberry Slider renamed Blackberry Torch?

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 06:04 AM PDT

The Blackberry Slider could be headed our way as the Blackberry Torch. The new device has been spotted in spy shots across the web for months and we heard new Blackberry Slider rumours just yesterday. We had thought the Blackberry Slider would be released as a Blackberry Bold but now light has been thrown on the new name…

Word has reached the Blackberry obsessives at Crackberry that RIM is debating whether to launch the Blackberry Slider as the first of a brand new product family under the Blackberry Torch name. The Blackberry Slider phones are reportedly already being built under the new name at RIM's Mexican manufacturing plants.

RIM registered in April. That could just be a bit of corporate name grabbing but it makes a lot of sense for the firm to put the Blackberry Slider in its own class. Phones like the Blackberry Pearl 3G come packing SureType, Blackberry Curve devices give you basic QWERTY, the Blackberry Bold line is for full QWERTY phones and the Blackberry Storm name is all about touchscreen devices.

Another inspiration for the Blackberry Torch name could be the new WebKit browser that's headed for Blackberry 6 OS and in turn the Blackberry Slider. The firm that RIM gobbled up to provide the perked up browser? TorchMobile.

Whether the Blackberry Slider does emerge as the Blackberry Torch or the Blackberry Bold, one thing seems clear: it's coming very soon.

Let us know: does the idea of the Blackberry Torch spark your imagination? Or does iPhone 4 snuff out any prospect of you running to RIM?

Due TBC | £TBC | Blackberry (via Crackberry)

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