Samsung Galaxy S III shines as this year’s biggest Android launch

by Kristen Nicole

It’s no shocker the Samsung Galaxy S III launch has been the talk of the town this week. Officially hitting stores May 29th, device pre-orders have taken off on Amazon and other retailers. The arrival of the Galaxy S III may have deterred other manufacturers from launching smartphones this week, but the Android PC market is still heating up. VIA has unveiled the APC 8750 with a low price to match its small stature. Even tinier is the MK802 from Rikomagic: a $74 computer hardly bigger than a thumbdrive.

Samsung Galaxy S III

One of the most hyped phones of the year, the Samsung Galaxy S III has already proven a formidable follow-up to the wildly popular S II. Officially hitting stores next week, pre-orders of the Galaxy S III have skyrocketed on Amazon and Vodafone, breaking a few records along the way. While the numbers aren’t being released, it’s clear that the S III has successfully built up more than enough anticipation with its quad-core processor, 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display and Siri-like speech recognition, all running on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

CNET UK has already gotten its hands on the Galaxy S III, doting over its improved camera features such as a “best shot” selection and the ability to take still photos while recording video. The Samsung TouchWiz interface is also a highlight of the Galaxy S III, as the Apple rival hopes to deter iPhone fans from snapping up whatever Tim Cook’s likely to unveil this summer. Keep in mind the S III available for sale at Amazon is the international version, which does not have LTE support. The S III isn’t scheduled to hit U.S. stores until June.

VIA APC 8750

While smartphone screens keep getting bigger, there’s another trend returning to smaller gadgets with VIA’s new Android-powered, caseless desktop computer barely the length of a banana. Challenging the Raspberry Pi, VIA puts its own chip into the APC 8750, which sports the WonderMedia ARM 11 System-on-a-Chip (SoC). At just $49, the APC 8750 is less than $10 more than the base Raspberry Pi, and certainly cheaper than most its competitors.

The APC 8750’s open motherboard is based on the new 17cm x 8.5cm Neo-ITX form factor. Just plug it directly into a monitor or TV and you’re good to go. Running an optimized version of Android 2.3, there’s also an input for a mouse and keyboard. The APC 8750 clocks in at 800MHz, with 512MB of DDR3 memory and 2GB of built-in NAND flash graphics. Additional ports support VGA and HDMI output, HDTV USB 2.0, a microSD slot and a 10/100 Ethernet port, amongst others.

Rikomagic MK802

Slightly larger than a thumbdrive, the Chinese-made MK802 is even smaller than the APC 8750, but the $74 price tag includes free shipping to a number of Asian countries including Japan and Singapore. Similar to the Cotton Candy computer-in-a-stick, the MK802 sports an ARM processor and supports Android and Linux operating systems. It comes with a Mali 400 GPU, enabling the MK802 to output 1080p videos through HDMI. Weighing under 200 grams, the MK802 still manages room for a microSD card slot to add to its built-in 4GB of flash storage. There’s also a full-sized and micro-USB port, and support for Wi-Fi.

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