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Showing posts from May, 2010

cellphone news roundup

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For the past few weeks,I have been seeing some interesting press news about new cellphone models and services launched in India so I thought I would do a roundup -

1. Nokia has launched Ovi Music Unlimited in India. I had blogged earlier about the potential launch of a DRM-free service in India, on the lines of Nokia Comes with Music, which was launched in China in early April.

As of now, subscribers to the service will enjoy 12 months of unlimited free download from a music catalog comprising over 4 million tracks, the majority of which are regional. Nokia touts this as the biggest online catalog available to Indian consumers. Users can manage their account from multiple PCs and also share tracks with other Ovi Unlimited subscribers. That's pretty sweet!

As of now, it appears that the free 12 month subcription is offered only to new buyers of an Ovi Music Unlimited device (X6, X2, 5800XpressMusic, 5530, 5235 or 5130).Trawling through Nokia user forums, it appears that the laun…

Groovy colored small cars

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I have been noticing some really nice shades in small cars available in India today. The purpose of this post is to celebrate and showcase the colors that I think are awesome. Leaving aside debate on specs for the present!

1) Chevy Beat.
The shades of the Beat have to be some of the sexiest that I have seen. Coupled with the racy build, this is one of the best looking cars in the B segment. Here are my two fave colors from the Chevy Beat website (Cocktail Green and Moroccan Blue)

2) Fiat Grande Punto
Italian styling sticks out a mile above the crowd, and according to me, the Punto looks best dressed in the classic shades - Exotica Red and Bossa Nova White. Interesting, because I would generally say that these are common colors. But they work brilliantly for the Punto, especially in the rear view of the car (which is not available on their website).





3) Ford Figo The Squeeze is the best shade on the Figo. Here is the image courtesy GeekRide (Yes, it looks very much like the Cocktail Green C…

The future of data storage looks good :)

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Hard disk drives are clearly and eventually on their way out. The future of data storage is blindingly fast transfer speeds in a slim form factor and some such devices have already started to make their way into the market. They are the opposite of cheap :) but it's early days yet and prices should drop.

Here are two mouthwatering devices featured on Engadget

1) The OCZ Enyo USB 3.0 portable SSD






A solid state drive housed in aluminium casing and running on SuperSpeed USB 3.0, this one is a beauty cruising at top-speed. Imagine being able to take a 256 GB backup in 12 minutes, or transfer 16 GB in 53 seconds (transfer times claimed on the site).




It comes in 64/128/256 GB sizes priced at USD 300, 400 and 800 respectively

2) The Supertalent SuperCrypt USB 3.0 USB drive

Reviewed favorably and in detail on PC Perspective last month, this small USB key apparently delivered average read and write speeds of 185MB / sec and 50MB / sec respectively as reported on engadget. It also costs mo…

ICEing my Ritz ;)

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Recently I bought a new Maruti Ritz and I have been checking out for some time for a good music system.

For the HU (Head Unit) I wanted a player with connectivity through SD Card, USB stick and Aux (Cable In) and I did not mind if it did not have a CD player! Since most of my music is in a digital format today, the CD player is fairly irrelevant.

Surprisingly I found that there are very few models in the market offering SD Card + USB connectivity and they are made by Pioneer.

I have installed the Pioneer DEH - 4290 SD

I bought this from Poona Motors (Pune Cantt. East Street) after inquiring in vain at several Mumbai shops for such a device and finding that they had not heard  of them. Poona Motors stocks a good range of audio gear and I was pretty impressed.

If you are looking for a similar unit, bargain to get it in the range of Rs. 8000 or lower. It is worthwhile to spend a little extra for the alternate connectivity options. I predict that soon we will not be listening to CDs any m…

Haryana has the fastest average broadband speed in India :)

Comes as a bit of a surprise?

According to Watblog, Akamai's State of the Internet Report (Q4, 2009), ranks Haryana as having the fastest average connection speed among Indian states (1103 kbps) followed by Kerala with average speed of 1015 kbps. I wonder why. Possibly, most broadband connnections in both states are BSNL, therefore average speeds are high. In cities like Mumbai and Delhi, unlimited 'high-speed' plans (averaging 256 kbps or even less) offered by private operators might push down the average speeds. And of course where there is more competition, all operators try to offer lower speed unlimited plans.

Incidentally, average broadband speed in India is 768 Kbps. Hopefully next year, we at least cross 1 mbps.

Buying a Netbook - 2010

As Dan Ackerman points out in this post on Crave, nothing very earth-shattering is happening on the Netbook scene. You will notice in the shops in India, a significant drop in prices of most Netbooks. Quite a few are available in the Rs. 16-18,000 range.

If you are in the market for a Netbook today, there are just a few updates you need to factor for
1. Processor : There is no choice of AMD processors for netbooks, only Intel's Atom Processors are available. The Atom range is characterised by low power consumption (and optimisation of battery life). The older N270 has been replaced by the new N450 (1.6 GHz) which is recommended as it will increase your battery life, though not significantly improving performance. This is an old single core CPU and it will basically be fine for basic tasks like surfing and email. I find it to be sluggish even for MS Office tasks like editing presentations.
2. High-res/ HD display is a worthwhile upgrade especially if you plan to watch movies on yo…

Cellphone Global market shares 2009

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Engadget posted the latest global marketshare of leading cellphone manufacturers and it looks like this



Once again, the findings are a salutary reminder that what the tech world drools about in no way reflects the cold reality of market shares. The huge gulf between the 2 global leaders (Nokia, Samsung) and the rest of the market, tells its own tale. The big news of course is Motorola's slump in sales. Motorola is now trying to rebuild its handset business around Google's Android platform.

A smaller and equally salutary surprise is that the much-hyped HTC does not figure in the top 10 either.

As an aside, when Nokia announced last year that it was cutting its smartphone offerings, there was consternation among a lot of geeks. After all, this is the company doing great stuff like N900 and Maemo Linux, which apparently is a way better OS than Symbian.But Engadget reported that the company will launch only one tablet/ Maemo device in 2010.

Nokia's strength has always been the…

Dell Studio 15 with Colorware

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I have blogged earlier about Colorware, the site which does a cool paint job on your gadgets. They have the new Dell Studio 15 in the house.

The Studio 15 is a powerful laptop, with iCore processor options, 500 GB HDD and 4 GB+ RAM and a 1 GB GPU. It's a pretty cool machine for anyone who works in Photoshop, AI or even video editing software.

Dell already offers a pile of aesthetic designer options to make your Studio 15 look cool. To name just a couple;

There is the Mike Ming design series (which is my personal favorite)



And there is this nail polish inspired look in collaboration with OPI which I suppose is meant to appeal to women (I am still getting used to it though)



But now that Colorware has got their claws into the Studio, I am quite smitten.




I created the two color combinations above, using the Colorware palate. I am just having some fun, but I think this color option for gadgets is dangerous. I mean, it can get addictive. Even if it costs just USD  400 to have this kind …

Alienware M11X gaming laptop range in India

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Dell has launched the new Alienware range of gaming laptops in India. They will be available through resellers and not through the website. I have not been able to get any information on pricing in India (in the US it is in the $799-1799 range). But it is safe to assume that in India the range will retail between Rs. 60000 and Rs. 100000, judging by past pricing strategy for Alienware.

Anyway, I am making this post to drool again over this gorgeous range and especially the Alienware M11x. Just to drool you understand, no other motive.



Yeah. It's beautiful and the specs are not bad either.

The 11 inch laptop comes with a SU7300 (1.73 Gig) processor, 500 GB HDD and 1 GB NVidia GPU for gaming. Apart from a slightly underpowered processor, this rig will give you a decent gaming performance balanced against light weight and optimised battery life.

The 15 inch (M15x) is another beast altogether, with ICore processor options, 1 GB Nvidia GPU and upto 8 GB of memory. This one is a heavy a…

Android No. 2 in Smartphone market in US

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BGR has featured the 2010 1st quarter mobile phone track conducted by the NPD research group. According to the research, Google's Android OS(28% market share) has overtaken Apple (21%) to occupy second position in the US smartphone market. The first position is still occupied by Blackberry's RIM OS with 36% market share.



The popularity of Android has already been predicted by tech research firm Gartner. Backing of Android by Google Inc. is one of the primary reasons cited for the success of the Android OS.

Is this a foreshadowing of what is to come and will Android garner similar market share in India? We will have to wait and see...

Airtel App Store

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Launched in Feb 2010, Airtel's App Store has apparently been doing brisk business among the 120 million Airtel customers across the country



Airtel has reported some interesting facts about the download pattern from the app store in this press release

• Most people who download from the app store have basic phones (priced less than Rs. 5000) and not    smartphones
• Smaller metros, like Surat, Pune, Udaipur are ahead of big cities in downloading apps
• Social Networking and Utility Apps are most popular

I tried the app store myself and found it pretty fast and easy to use. The Airtel App Store can only be accessed from your GPRS enabled handset and not from the Web. Upto 25% of the 1500+ apps on the site are free to download.

Airtel plans to open up the App store to the developer community, allowing them to create and market more apps.

If you have  tried App Store and have any favorite apps, do let me know and I will be happy to feature them in this space!

Nokia Messaging service - free in India

Ads in the newspapers over the weekend have announced that Nokia's Push Email (messaging) service will be free of charge on E-Series phones (E 71, E 72 and E 63) for the entire lifetime of the phone. It is not clear whether this service will be free of charge on other Nokia handsets or only the Enterprise phones.

Nokia Messaging service was launched last year and offered a viable option to RIM Blackberry's push mail services. The service has been free of cost till launch but it was generally expected that Nokia would charge for it by early 2010.

Blackberry users in India subscribe to data plans ranging from Rs. 300 to Rs 900  to utilise the push mail client and internet on the go. Last month, I had blogged about Airtels 2 GB GPRS plan for Rs. 99, which I have activated on my Nokia E63. Effectively, I get email on the go for Rs. 100 a month.

Having used the Nokia Messaging service for nearly 6 months now, I can testify that it is reliable and trouble-free. I am of course happy…

Browser Wars

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Ars Technica reports the world market shares of browsers in 2010.

According to the site, despite being the market default, Internet Explorer's share of market continues to decline, Chrome is the fastest growing while Firefox is also showing steady growth.

As a personal observation, my days of loyalty to a single browser are over. I use Firefox a lot of the time, and Chrome increasingly with Google sites including YouTube and Gmail, because it just loads so much quicker. I notice that with flash-heavy content, Firefox hogs a huge amount of system memory. This is not the case with either IE or Chrome.

The only loser in this is Opera. I remember the early days Opera came out (the days of Dial-up internet) how good I thought it was. It's a pity its not been able to keep up share and keep up a user base. But let's see how it does now, with the mobile platform also being available for browsers.

The myth of 'private social networking'

Facebook continues to collect flak in the tech world. This Gizmodo article by Dan Yoder offers some compelling reasons why we should get off Facebook while as raising some disturbing questions about the confidentiality of our data.

For instance, he points out that FB offers access to your private data to all applications and their developers both big and small. You might trust FB but can you trust the application developers to keep your data securely?? Or the fact that it is very hard to delete a FB account and they try to hang on to your information.

I had posted last month about Facebook and privacy. My stand on the issue has not changed. I believe social networking sites are important and powerful tools to re-connect and network, both professionally and personally. I need to use them, and that's a practical decision. But undoubtedly we all need to become smarter and shrewder in using them.

One practical thing that I take out from Dan's article is to keep your FB profile tr…