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Editor's Letter: The familiar 4

Tim Stevens

In each issue of Distro, editor-in-chief Tim Stevens publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.

Another week, another mega Android smartphone release! This time it's Samsung's eagerly awaited Galaxy S 4. Yes, we've lost the Roman numerals, as their marketing certainly hinted, but otherwise, not a lot has changed. In fact, even we experts, trained in the art of cellphone identification, are going to have a hard time telling the difference between this new Galaxy S and its predecessor from a distance.

Gallery: Samsung Galaxy S 4 preview | 34 Photos

It is slightly larger, with a 5-inch, 1080p OLED display, but there is at least a bit more intrigue on the CPU side. Samsung reps have been a little cagey on what's powering the thing, but at least one will have an eight-core Exynos 5 chip -- though to be fair it's actually dual four-core processors, rather than eight equal cores. There are four A7 cores married to a quartet of A15s, an interesting bit of digital polygamy that could result in a very efficient CPU. We shall see. That'll be paired with 2GB of RAM.

The HTC One retains the crown as the nicest looking and nicest feeling Android device -- for the moment.

And then, of course, there's the design. The GS4 looks very much to be cut from the same, plasticky mold as the GS3 before it, meaning the HTC One retains the crown as the nicest looking and nicest feeling Android device -- for the moment.

Moving from hardware to software, a big shake-up at Google could have big implications for the future of Android. Andy Rubin has stepped down from his position as Android lead to follow his entrepreneurial spirit to new avenues -- avenues within the company, that is. Taking over the reins of Android is Sundar Pichai, who currently oversees the Apps and Chrome projects. Yes, from a business hierarchical standpoint at least, Android and Chrome are now perfectly aligned. Android running within Chrome OS now feels like a lock, which could make that touchscreen on the Pixel a wee bit more useful.

Finally on the Google front, the company opened registration for the Google I/O developer conference this year -- and then promptly closed it less than 50 minutes later. That's about twice as long as last year's conference took to sell out, meaning either Google found some more seats or slowed down the ticket-acquisition process.

After what feels like an age, we now have a price and a date for the US release of the BlackBerry Z10. The phone will hit AT&T and Verizon on March 22nd priced at $199, just as expected and putting it on a par with some really great phones like the Galaxy S III and the iPhone 5. And, of course, with the HTC One and Galaxy S IV coming soon, it has stiffer competition than ever.

At five pounds, you probably won't want to take it far anyway.

Dell took the wraps off its XPS 18, an 18.4-inch all-in-one touchscreen desktop with up to an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. That all sounds tame enough, but what makes this particularly interesting is that it also has a battery. Yes, it's effectively a giant tablet, though we don't expect off-plug longevity to be more than a couple of hours. And, at five pounds, you probably won't want to take it far anyway.

Gallery: Dell XPS 18 hands-on | 22 Photos

The TiVo Mini went on sale this week for just $99.99, offering the ability to extend your TiVo Premier content and all its various lists to other rooms. That seems reasonable enough, but TiVo is doing its thing and charging another monthly fee to use the Mini: $5.99. Or, you can cough up $149.99 and use the thing fee-free. At $250 total, it suddenly feels like less of a value, but I won't spoil the review for you, which is waiting patiently for you in the latest issue of Distro.

Gallery: TiVo Mini review | 17 Photos

Finally, Tesla indicated that it is delaying its Model X SUV for another year. The all-wheel-drive version of the Model S with the gullwing doors and somewhat portly proportions had originally been due this year, but now it's intended for a 2014 arrival. While that's a bit disappointing, it does mean the company can focus its efforts on churning out more units of the Model S. I'll take mine in blue, thanks.

In this week's Distro we have Brad Molen's eminently comprehensive review of the HTC One, the best-looking Android smartphone to date and, certainly, one of the best-looking handsets of all time. We'll also bring you Ben Drawbaugh's review of the TiVo Mini and give you a visual tour of all the SXSW insanity from Austin. We're taking a closer look at the 10 finalists from our Insert Coin: New Challengers competition, which will come to a head this weekend at our first Expand conference in San Francisco. I hope to see many of you there, but for those who aren't able to make it, we'll be live-streaming basically the entire show. It's going to be a great event, and whether you join us physically or virtually I'm pretty sure you won't want to miss it.

Tim Stevens is Editor-in-chief of Engadget and Editorial Director for AOL Tech. You can find him on Twitter at @tim_stevens.

This piece originally appeared in Distro #82.

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