Showing posts from November, 2010

OS domination in smartphones - thoughts for 2011

The Q3 2010 smartphone market share figures released by Gartner recently reflect the exciting and dynamic picture of the mobile phone market today. (Image from BGR) It raises some interesting questions for the future in terms of operating system dominance, and when I look at it from an Indian perspective, the questions reveal that the battle could still swing any way. 1. Nokia, what's next? Despite the hype surrounding Android, Nokia remains the market leader with 44% share, although that share is eroding. In India, Nokia still has over 50% market share in India even after losing ground to Samsung and Indian manufacturers. Nokia foreshadowed the slide in the smartphone race when they announced in Dec. 2009 that they would  halve their smarphone portfolio in 2010 and put their effort behind fewer models. The delay in launching Symbian 3 and the less than enthusiastic response to it, also hurt the company. But India and the emerging low-medium cost market remains critical t

Push sync or customised sync : which do you use?

I am using Exchange ActiveSync on my Samsung Wave, running BADA OS. I  set up my hotmail and gmail accounts without any problem, but over months of usage, I am noticing some differences in the way the two work. To start with, here are my settings for sync. I get several options in sync schedule, allowing me to tweak the sync settings for peak and off-peak periods. Enter into the peak schedule menu and I get an option to set the frequency of sync - either push (instant) or with varying degrees of infrequency (5 minutes or less frequently) I like having these options. As per my understanding, push sync is instant ie. the mail server pushes the mail to my phone as soon as it arrives. When I set a 'sync' option,  my phone checks the server and retrieves my mail, at pre-defined intervals that I can customise. Do note that in both cases, I can sync all settings like contacts, calendar, email etc. It is only the frequency of sync that we are discussing here. Both options h

Cellphone radiation : A compilation of facts from the Internet

Recently I started using a bluetooth headset and out of curiosity I began to google the literature available on radiation emission from both cellphones and bluetooth headsets. There is not a lot of conclusive evidence out there. In fact, it is harder to find information on this topic than it is to find the latest specs of any cellphone! I thought of compiling it all in one place in case anyone has the same queries as me: 1. Cellphones emit 'non-ionising' RF (Radio Frequency) electromagnetic radiation. This type of radiation is also emitted by microwaves and is largely considered to be safe compared to the ionising radiation emitted by Gamma Rays or XRays. However, RF radiation can still heat up the tissues over prolonged exposure. Did you know (I didn't) that your eyes are the most likely to get damaged by RF radiation because the blood flow to the eyes is less and the body controls blood flow to dissipate heat from tissues. Luckily, we do not hold our cellphones to our

Honeycomb and BB Playbook - tablets for 2011

The more I dig, the more reasons I come up with for not rushing into buying a tablet right away. If Notion Ink's soon to be released Adam tablet does not convince you to wait, check out the news that Samsung has  downsized their production of the Galaxy Tab based on poor sales - looks like the company will not be hitting the 1 million sales mark that they had forecast when they released the tablet. Android 2.2 is optimised for mobile screens, not for the larger 10 inch screens of tablets. Mashable  reports that the next release of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) will possibly not address this issue either. Of course, the manufacturer can tweak the operating system as Samsung has done. Android 3 (Honeycomb) is tipped to be the full fledged tablet-ready version of Android. According to GigaOm , both LG and Lenovo have delayed their Android tablet launch to 2011 to wait for Honeycomb.And this post on Phandroid   suggests that Honeycomb may be out as early as February 2011. And all

Adam from Notion Ink : India's foray into cutting-edge tablets

I had blogged in an earlier post that Indian companies are at the forefront of the tablet revolution. Indian based Olive Telecom released the Olive Pad earlier this year, providing us with our first 'affordable' tablet at Rs. 25,990 - this would fall in the same range as a high end smartphone. Another company that has been making waves in the tablet world is Bangalore based Notion Ink . Over the past year, company founder Rohan Shravan has been sharing updates on his blog about the progress on the Adam tablet which the company hopes to put on pre-order by end of 2010/ early 2011. (Images from Slashgear and the Notion Ink blog) So far, the look has been kept under wraps (which adds to the excitement) but the specs have been released and some of them look very exciting. Firstly, an NVidia Tegra 2 dual core mobile processor powers the Adam.This new-gen processor will feature in upcoming smartphones from Motorola and LG and is designed for larger screens, better grap

I prefer QWERTY to touchscreen, what about you?

I waited nearly a month after acquiring a touchscreen phone, to make this post, but now I'm ready to say that for me, a QWERTY is a must and a pure touch phone does not cut it. I use the Samsung Wave, and some people have told me, iPhone has a better touch screen, a larger display makes a difference, SWYPE on Android is superb etc. But I find the touchscreen to be responsive and easy to use, so that is not the issue. In fact, I find it way more convenient for some activities like quickly accessing widgets from the homescreen, browsing the net etc. The touchscreen in these cases acts like a mouse, taking me to the portion of the screen that I want to focus my attention on. The touchscreen irks me when I want to type. When it's an SMS or a mail, I find myself making way more mistakes than I make with a keypad. And it gets worse when I am entering passwords. Maybe I get more butter-fingered because I am concentrating, but what is a simple process with a keyboard, becomes an

Tablets in India

It seems that all the advice I've been giving lately is to wait, but in this case it's justified. The wait is still on for a tablet that can give competition to Apple's iPad. At the rate things are going, Apple will provide its own competition when it upgrades the iPad next year. But only two contendors -  Samsung and Olive have launched devices and as a pleasant change, both have been officially released in India. And with Bangalore based Notion Ink annoucing an upcoming tablet with killer specs, it appears that India is in the thick of the tablet revolution. Only Apple is yet to officially launch the iPad though it sells unofficially through Ebay India for approximately Rs. 40,000 and upwards depending on configuration. 1) The Olive Pad At  Rs. 25,990, India based Olive Telecom's Olive Pad   was the first to launch and is also the most accessibly priced in India. It's an appealing toy for the price (if you can't source an iPad from abroad) with an ARM 11

The world of tweets : India is nowhere in the picture

The geek in me loves A world of tweets which I discovered through this techcrunch blog post . Created by a company called Frog Design, the project visualises tweets, real time on a world map. Or, in their own words; "A World of Tweets is all about playing with geography and bits of information. Simply put, A World of Tweets shows you where people are tweeting at from the past hour. The more tweets there are from a specific region, the "hotter" or redder it becomes. This continuous collection of Twitter statuses also allows for the presentation of other interesting visuals as well as statistical and historical data about the tweeting world we live in. Through the activity of Twitter users it is possible to tailor a new map of the world that evolves during the day according to the timezones and the spreading of mobile technologies." Here is some interesting historical information from the site. The US is obviously the biggest-tweeting market (

Does brand loyalty truly exist in an exploding smartphone market?

Barely a month ago, I was a happy Nokia user, till the Samsung Wave lured me into the bada world that I (somewhat reluctantly) inhabit. This year has demonstrated to me that brand loyalty can truly vanish, in a flash. Just 6 months ago, when I was buying my E63, I would not even have considered a Samsung phone. But they produced a beautiful piece of hardware and I ditched the brand I have used for 5 years, without a second thought. It's a similar story for Samsung across the globe. Take a look at sales figures for Galaxy S; Samsung has sold 1 million units (and counting)  in the US , has outsold the iPhone 4 in Japan soon after launch and overall, shipped 5 million phones worldwide , with projected sales of ten million next year. And we are talking of just one phone in Samsung's line up. 2011 promises a Samsung-branded Nexus 2 and a mysterious super phone with a 1.2 gig processor and and a 4.3 inch screen, running Android 2.3 of course. Suddenly, Samsung is at the cutting ed

Europe gets bada update, what about India?

Last month, Softpedia reported that Samsung would be rolling out updates of its bada operating system to handsets in Europe. The update named bada 1.0.2, offers several functionalities including an improved T9 text input system called Trace and the ability to browse or use your phone even when it is connected to your PC. It also fixes memory bugs and system errors that plague bada users, and offers a smoother browsing experience. The update allows you to set separate alerts for messages and mails; my Nokia E63 would do that from the start, but Samsung forgot to implement it! It's impossible to find any communication from Samsung about the bada update, so I have had to fall back on the bada user forums. It appears that as of November 9, most European markets have been able to download the firmware update officially through Kies, the Samsung PC connectivity software. And many people in other parts of the world have successfully flashed the European firmware onto their device and a

budget android smartphones in India

Like any enthusiast geek, I drool over the latest hardware, but what I will buy are budget smartphones. By budget phones, I mean something that comes in a Rs.10,000-15,000 range. This represents the limit of what I would spend on a phone because I carry and use my laptop almost everywhere so a phone is almost always a secondary screen. And it's less preferred because of the small size, except when I am on the move. I prefer to use a dedicated camera and DAP/MP3 player, so it will not really swap out either device except on the fly. But I do find myself using my phone more often to browse at home on wi-fi when I feel too lazy to take out my laptop, in a mall when I suddenly want to check a product review, when I am in a coffee shop and planning a trip and I want to check flight schedules. It's fun to check a weather widget on my phone and see the latest weather forecast for the place I am flying to tomorrow. And it is indispensable to see and answer mail on the fly and to get

The latest and greatest smartphone specs - a checklist

I have blogged recently about how the cellphone industry is in a state of constant flux, with constant hardware and software upgrades making it impossible to buy the 'best' cellphone, as the best is always coming next quarter or even next month.  This is a state of affairs for which I squarely blame Android, with its Google-inspired constant beta innovation curve. Android has brought vibrancy and change into the cellphone space, both through the features of the OS, and through the enthusiastic response from handset manufacturers like Motorola, HTC and Samsung. While this makes choice difficult for a buyer, some features seem to be stabilising, though slowly. And some have not really changed a lot over time! I thought it would be useful to make a checklist of such features for a prospective buyer to know what is the best - and then decide. This is an OS independant list, and covers purely hardware specs. 1) Display : Currently the best displays are the Apple iPhone 4G '

Windows Phone 7 arrives finally

Finally after nearly a year long wait, Windows Phone 7 was announced last month, and devices are now available for sale in Europe, Asia Pac (Singapore and Australia) and most recently, US. MS is backing the launch with aggressive advertising and has claimed in Computerworld that the OS is more efficient than either iOS or Android, requiring 20% fewer steps to perform daily tasks. According to Mashable , the handset partners for Microsoft - LG, Dell, HTC and Samsung - have 9 WP7 handsets between them.All phones for the WP7 platform will all carry a '7' in the model name eg. HD7, which will distinguish them from the often similarly named Android handsets made by the same manufacturers. All of them are GSM handsets; the CDMA handsets are expected to debut only in 2011. There's a fairly wide and confusing range on offer,across feature sets and price points. I mostly blame HTCs increasingly confusing line up for this, but Microsoft's insistence on certain base specs for

mobile phone for senior citizens

This post has taken me a long time to write. Since the last few months, I have been looking for phones for my grandparents, and also been asked by friends to recommend a phone for other elderly people. While I spent time browsing phone shops, it struck me how most large handset manufacturers have inexplicably neglected this demographic. You can get hundreds of fancy cheap phones, but so few that are thoughtfully designed for an older user. Here are the basic requirements for any phone for elderly people: 1. Large screen/display 2. Large Font sizes 3. Discreet and large sized keys which are easy to press 4. Extra loud volume of ringtone/ speaker to help people who are hard of hearing 5. Long duration battery 6. Simple operating procedure (it should not be very easy to bar outgoing calls for instance!) 7. Voice-operated commands and dialling 8. Can be located/ blocked easily if lost 9. SOS call facility 10. Not expensive, durable and can survive a few falls! When I went with

Cruising the bada App Store

We have been told often enough on various phone review sites that the success or failure of Samsung's Wave series hinges on the way bada shapes up as an operating system. Which of course, boils down to what kind of Apps are available. With the Apple Store offering more than 300,000 in October 2010 according to this source and Android marketplace recently crossing its 100,000th app, Samsung has a lot of catching up to do. Since as long as I can remember I have been a fan of Korean hardware. Across iRiver, Cowon and now Samsung, I have enjoyed the benefit of fantastically built hardware, coupled with wobbly firmware, non-existent manuals/ instructions and helpful user forums that help you figure everything out. Cruising the bada store was a similar experience, frustrating, yet unexpectedly funny and rewarding, once in a while. In the Samsung App Store interface, apps are classified as Hot, New and under various categories and at first glance it seems that there are less than

review of netconnect broadband 2010

I have been using Reliance Net Connect Broadband since the last 5 months and I am in a fair position to give a review of the services. So here goes: 1. Activation : Was extremely prompt and smooth. Happened within 24 hours from the nearest Reliance World customer service center. 2. Customer Service : Easy to reach, technical service team calls back to troubleshoot. There are regular call reminders to pay the bill (which is irritating but also necessary sometimes). 3. Billing : This is one of my main irritants. You can opt either for bill through e-mail or hard copy. That is either/or. Not both. I need a physical bill for my tax purposes and I cannot see why they can't email me the bill too. It would not cost them anything! 4. Connection : It is reliable (I nearly always get a good signal) but not fast. 3.1 mbps is a pipe dream. I test the speed regularly using  Speedtest and I have never gotten more than 500 kbps. In fact, the speed averages 250 kbps. Since that still qual

High spec ultraportables that won't bust the bank

I have realised how my attention has gone off high-spec laptops - not surprisingly perhaps, given that all the excitement in 2010 has been around phones and tablets! The world of laptops has not seen so much change (except for the MacBook Air refresh). But the second half of the year has seen some reasonably priced ultraportables with decent specs, across manufacturers. We are talking sub $1000 (Less than Rs.45,000) though one has to see how that will translate in India after all applicable taxes. Do note that all the laptops featured here come with iCore processor, 500 GB HDD, 4 GB RAM and NVidia GPU, and a 13" or 14" screen. The specs are amply sufficient for a business user, art director, casual gamer or movie watcher.  1) Acer Aspire Timeline X1830T The most exciting machine featured here, the 11.6 inch Acer Aspire uses ULV iCore processors. You can get an iCore 7 CPU at $900, and specs include 500 GB HDD, 4 GB RAM and 11.6 inch LED HD backlit display, all weighin

Android the next big thing in India?

Canalys' report on the Q3 2010 global smartphone market share is making news across tech websites and attracting a lot of comments. Here are the key points in the report: 1) The worldwide smartphone market has grown 95% over the previous year. In the BRIIC countries (which includes India), the smartphone market grew by 112% which is more than the overall growth. Incidentally, smartphones are estimated to be approximately 8% of the market in India in 2010. 2) In terms of brand leadership, Nokia remains the worldwide leader in the smartphone market with 33% share (down from 38% last year), followed by Apple (17%) and RIM/Blackberry (15%). RIM has lost its second position in global smartphone market share to Google 3) However, in India, Nokia continues to hold 65% of the smartphone market showing 208% YoY growth, while RIM holds 18%, an increase in volumes of over 412% 4) Worldwide, the Android operating system has grown over 1000% and now holds 25% of the global market. 5) In t