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Power-Hungry Networks

The latest beta of , and its menus have been optimized for touch--complete with buttons for copying, pasting, as well as zooming in on a page. Could this be a taste of what the rumored Chrome OS tablet will be like? Maybe.

Rumors abound about the likely to hit stores in November. Various sources seem to think that it’ll sport a 1280-by-720 multitouch display, a 22GB solid state drive, and 2GB of memory, as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G, GPS, and a Webcam. But beyond the physical specs, we want to know what this hypothetical tablet will be like to use, so let’s start with looking at what its browser will be like.

Google Chrome now also supports “location sharing”, meaning that your browser can detect where you are, using HTML5's geolocation feature., for example, uses your position information (served from either your IP address or GPS location) to show you the weather where you are right now.

HTML5 geolocation doesn’t depend on how your browser gets position information, meaning websites like could use this feature on their websites to show you nearby restaurants and tweets without a separate app for the iPhone or Android OS.

Want your browser preferences from your work machine on your tablet? The Chrome 6 Beta will also sync your bookmarks, themes, and autofill data across your various devices using this browser by way of your Google Account.

Chrome also supports developer-created notifications for extensions, which are the little transparent popup windows similar to ones from . While some folks find these notifications a bit obnoxious, it can be nice to have more than a few pixels’ worth of notification when you’ve received a new message in Gmail, a new chat, or that a download has completed. (There’s also a to get notifications to play nice with Growl.)

With multitouch support, geolocation, preference syncing, and notifications, it looks like Google is trying to create a browser tailor-made for the tablet computing experience. Is this a sign that Google will be taking over the tablet market for browsers, or that a Chrome OS-running tablet will be more than a rumor? Will its HTML5 tools for notifications and geolocation make individual apps obsolete? Sound off in the comments!

Of other handsets that support AT&T's HSDPA/UMTS network, only the came close, with an average talk time of 5 hours, 18 minutes. The AT&T Tilt pooped out at 4 hours, 47 minutes, trailed by the Pantech Duo at 4:46; the Motorola Q9 Global at 4:43; and the Palm Treo 750 at an abysmal 3:53. The iPhone 3G also beat out non-BlackBerry competitors on Sprint and Verizon's EvDO mobile broadband networks, including the Palm Centro (4:19) and the Samsung Instinct (5:33).

3G networks in general are notorious power drains, but the network type used by AT&T is particularly power-hungry because voice calls use the same mobile broadband network as data tasks. In contrast, the EvDO technology on which Sprint and Verizon base their 3G networks supports data only; voice uses older CDMA networks, which (in theory at least) use less power.

The good news for AT&T and other HSDPA/UMTS customers is that they can make voice calls while using their phones for data (that is, tasks such as browsing the Web or downloading e-mail); Sprint and Verizon users cannot simultaneously do both.

And the good news for 3G iPhone owners is that they're probably better off than most other AT&T 3G smartphone owners in terms of battery life. But that won't help when your 3G iPhone stops running at the end of a long and busy day.

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