Thursday, February 24, 2011

Killzone 3: Overkill?

There's no denying that the Killzone franchise is easily one of the PlayStation 3's best-looking series, but does the follow-up to 2009's blockbuster bring anything new to the table?


There's no shortage of stunning visuals in Killzone 3, but unfortunately that's where the interest ends. There is simply too much of the same game we saw in the previous title to make Killzone 3 stand on its own.

Aside from the occasional jet pack levels and jungle environments, Killzone 3 is irritatingly repetitive. Also, the issue of clunky controls remains present; the analog sticks just feel sluggish in game, something other PS3 shooters do not suffer from.

Sony is pushing the Sharp Shooter Move accessory as an alternative way to play the game as well. While we haven't had enough time to give the Sharp Shooter its own separate review, our experience with it during Killzone 3 sessions was mixed. We really liked the vast amount of functionality littered along the device, but aiming and movement really took some getting used to.

Playing Killzone 3 with Move alone proved to be slightly more enjoyable, but we'd be surprised to see hard-core gamers abandon the DualShock 3.

(Credit: GameSpot)

To call Sony's latest shooter, Killzone 3, a serious graphical achievement is an understatement. It's beautiful, seamlessly rendered, impressively executed. It's also boring. I'm sorry, it's true.

The resemblances to Gears of War feel all too obvious, both in art style and story execution. While Killzone 3's universe is far different, you might say that both Gears of War and the Killzone franchise are becoming two very equivalent summer-blockbuster-style action movies that are growing ever-closer together.

I tried to care about the story, I really did. But the over-wrought dialogue, terribly serious one-dimensional characters, and predictable plot won't win awards. That's not what brings us to play shooters such as Killzone 3--at least, those who care about shooters--but this isn't a great leap forward for gaming as a transformative entertainment medium. Inventive and surprising, this certainly isn't.

Is it asking too much that I be surprised by a shooter and its story--that I find myself taken to new territories? Maybe it is. Killzone 3 is a definitive action centerpiece for the PS3, but it's nothing that anyone else will pay attention to. It's worth the price of admission, but it's not a killer app. Then again, if you're looking for epic, large-screen HD entertainment and nothing more, then you've come to the right place.

(Credit: GameSpot)

As an actual interactive experience, Killzone 3 can best be describes as rigorously competent. If you've played Killzone 2 (which was one of the first must-play PS3 games), then this is more of the same, plus a small amount of flying around on jet packs. It's video game junk food, but there's nothing wrong with spending a few hours indulging in a guilty pleasure.

But the main reason I was looking forward to Killzone 3 was that it was one of the only console games designed to work with the current generation of 3DTVs. As one of the few who actually made the 3DTV plunge, I've been waiting a long time for some quality 3D action.

Unfortunately, the implementation of 3D in Killzone 3 isn't perfect. I suspect it's because the PS3 console is being asked to pump out literally twice the number of frames (60 per eye, per second), so the visual quality takes a bit of a hit. At times, playing in 3D felt like watching the game through a fish tank, and I ended up playing most of it back in the standard 2D mode.

The next big test for 3D console gaming will be EA's Crysis 2, and at least from the few 3D demos I've seen of that, it looks promising. But it may be that the aging current generation of living room consoles just can't deliver picture-perfect 3D games--at least not in the way a high-end gaming PC with an Nvidia 3D Vision rig can.

(Credit: GameSpot)

View More Killzone 3 (photos)

Thursday, February 24, 2011 by NEWS · 0

Intel details Thunderbolt, says Apple has full year head start

At a press conference earlier this morning, Intel offered additional information about its new Thunderbolt interconnect technology being pioneered by Apple in its latest batch of MacBook Pros, noting Apple will have a year long head start in deploying the technology.

As described in the First Look, the new specification pairs PCI Express with DisplayPort signaling in a collaboration with Apple. The PCI Express protocol was used because it's flexible and widely compatible with various types of I/O devices.

"You can extend the backbone of your computer to distributed devices that are connected to it," Intel representatives said, "and to the OS it looks like they're connected to the computer."

Based on work to develop an ultrafast new optical port originally named Light Peak, Intel's efforts to make the new low latency ("8 nanosecond accuracy time sync across 7 devices" for very little delay between operations), low overhead (hits much closer to the theoretical max than previous port specifications because of less background chat), high speed signaling standard was initially held back by the higher cost of optical cabling.

To reduce the cost, Intel collaborated with Apple to pair the technology with DisplayPort to deliver a single copper connection that was high performance and yet still economical.

By pairing the new interconnect with Mini DisplayPort (which Apple developed but has openly released as part of the DisplayPort specification), Thunderbolt should also help drive adoption of the Mini DisplayPort connector as well, which so far has largely been limited to Apple's own equipment. Other DisplayPort monitors from companies like Dell use a "full sized" connector that looks similar to USB, but which serves no value other than being larger.

The new standard is not backwardly compatible with USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt ports can't be added to existing PCs via an expansion card; Intel says the only way to have it is to buy a system or logic board that incorporates the new Thunderbolt controller chip. That's because the Thunderbolt chip needs direct access to both the system's video and PCI Express architecture.

PC makers are expected to begin adding Thunderbolt to their machines next spring, giving Apple a year to trailblaze the technology among high end users before it trickles down into the mainstream. Apple has partnered with Intel in the past to debut its new CPUs on Macs for a brief period, while the debut of DisplayPort (which is not an Intel standard) took a longer period to roll out.

PC makers and Microsoft were both slow to provide initial, enthusiastic support for USB, leaving it to Apple to kick-start widespread adoption. They rolled out USB 2.0 faster than Apple, and many now support USB 3.0 and eSATA, neither of which Apple has included on its machines.

Thunderbolt Intel Apple MacBook Pro

Third party support

Thunderbolt supports two channels of 10Gbps (equivalent to about 1280MBps) transfers in both directions, simultaneously. Intel demonstrated actual throughputs of up to 6.25Gbps (800MBps) using prototype consumer products. There's very little overhead, Intel notes, compared to USB 3.0, which promises 5Gbps but can only possibly deliver throughput of about 3Gbps.

Very fast SATA interfaces are limited to 6Gbps, meaning Thunderbolt is currently much faster than most consumer devices you could attach to it, indicating the actual throughputs are likely running into the limits of SATA rather than reflecting the overhead of Thunderbolt itself.

Intel demonstrated Thunderbolt's daisy-chain feature attaching a MacBook Pro to a fast RAID, which then connected to a standard DisplayPort 1.1 monitor, performing high speed data transfers of multiple 1080p videos from a prototype Promise RAID device while delivering very high resolution 2K video to the display over the same cable.

Existing displays will work as long as they are the last device in the chain (because they don't have additional daisy-chain ports, and because they don't know how to pass through Thunderbolt if they did), so new monitors are not required. Hard drives and even video cameras are expected to supply two ports to enable chaining devices together like this.

Existing electrical copper cables can carry Thunderbolt signals for about 3 meters (about 10 feet) between devices, and carry 10 watts of power. In the future, fiber optic cables will be available to extend signals to "tens of meters." A purely optical cable won't deliver electrical power. Intel describes Thunderbolt as "a symmetric architecture that supports flexible topologies (star, tree, daisy chaining, etc.) and enables peer-to-peer communication (via software) between devices."

Thunderbolt Intel Apple MacBook Pro

Third party support

The new port is already being supported by disk makers Promise and LaCie, with a voice of support from Western Digital (although not any products yet). Among media device makers, Aja, Apogee, Avid, Blackmagic, and Universal Audio have all announced support as well.

LaCie demonstrated a "Little Big Disk" RAID device built using two Intel SSD drive configured into a RAID 0 stripe set. The drive (or multiple units) is capable of being powered by the Thunderbolt bus as well, reducing the need for additional power bricks. LaCie hasn't yet released a price or availability date for the new drive.

The company described Thunderbolt as allowing a notebook system to interface via a desktop workstation system via Thunderbolt, and then share all of the desktop's ports with the connected machine via the Thunderbolt interconnect. This will allow "thinner and lighter laptops, expandable through Thunderbolt technology and its miniature connector designed for mobile applications, without sacrificing I/O performance."

Docking stations were also listed among the potential applications for the new interconnect, with Intel noting that Thunderbolt can "extend to reach other I/O technologies by using adapters that use widely available PCI Express controllers. It's simple to create a Gigabit Ethernet, or FireWire, or eSATA adapters using existing device PCI Express drivers."

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AOC Launches Aire Black Range of Monitors

AOC Launches Aire Black Range of Monitors

Although the AOC brand name isn't big in India, it is synonymous with good value-for-money displays for computer enthusiasts and system builders here. The Taiwan based display manufacturer has launched a new Aire Black range of slim LED backlit monitors that promise aesthetics both in form and function. In fact, the glossy piano-black Aire Blacks claim to count themselves as one of the world's slimmest display panels. That's a vague claim indeed, but the displays look quite svelte nonetheless. The range will be available in sizes of 20-inch (e2043Fk) for $129 (Rs. 5,900 approx.), 22-inch (e2243Fwk) for $149 (Rs. 6,800 approx.) and 23-inch (e2343Fk) for $179 (Rs. 8,100 approx.).

The slim display is WLED edge lit and comes with a built-in VESA mount and embedded Screen+ software, which lets the user divide the screen into four desktops. The Aire Black monitors have an advertised 50,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 5ms response time, and DVI-D input with HDCP, but it's sorely missing an HDMI input, which is a crying shame in this day and age. The monitor is EPEAT Gold Certified, which means it's quite frugal with power consumption. The 20-inch Aire Black has a resolution of 1366x768, while the other two are Full-HD displays (1920x1080).

There's no word on the local availability or price, but AOC's India centric website features the 22-inch Aire Black monitor, so it should hit the local market soon enough. Although the lack of an HDMI input would be a deal breaker, but knowing AOC, the monitor will be priced competitively.

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UPDATE 1-Apple to host event, iPad 2 in the wings

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is hosting a media event next week to show off the next-generation of the iPad, as it prepares to take on new rivals in the fast-growing tablet market.

Apple, which sent an invitation to reporters on Wednesday via email, will host the March 2 gathering at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the same venue where Apple unveiled the original iPad in January 2010.

The characteristically succinct invitation featured an image of a calendar page with a giant "2" emblazoned in the center, peeled back just slightly to reveal the familiar form of an iPad. The invite teased, "Come see what 2011 will be the year of."

Given the sheer crush of competing tablets coming on the market, Apple will face a bigger challenge to wow consumers with the new iPad, which is expected to go on sale in April.

The iPad has completely dominated the nascent tablet computer market, but literally dozens of new devices are set to launch this year, so Apple will have to prove it can stay one step ahead of its pursuers.

Apple's rivals include Motorola Mobility (MMI.N), Research in Motion (RIM.TO) and Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N), all of which are aggressively promoting their tablets.

Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads last year, when it had the market largely to itself. Analysts expect the company to at least double that figure this year, as the overall market explodes to more than 50 million units.

Industry watchers expect Apple to show off a thinner, lighter and faster version of the 10-inch touchscreen tablet, and also add a front-facing camera to enable video chatting using the company's FaceTime application.

Many analysts believe Apple may also add a chip that allows the iPad to run on CDMA networks like that of Verizon Wireless (VZ.N) (VOD.L).

There is also the question of who will lead the event, with Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs out on indefinite medical leave. As Apple's master showman, Jobs typically presides over major product launches.

If not Jobs on stage, other potential emcees include Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook and marketing chief Phil Schiller.

With the original iPad priced starting at $499, investors will also be watching to see if Apple plans to creep farther down the price chain to broaden the iPad's appeal.

Apple's rivals has so far been unable to match the iPad on price. But Apple has pinched its own gross margins by pricing the tablet lower than its serious competitors. (Additional reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Steve Orlofsky)

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Pre-order Samsung Galaxy Fit for Rs. 10,359

Pre-order Samsung Galaxy Fit for Rs. 10,359

With an army of Android phones already invading the Indian market, Samsung has added the Galaxy Fit S5670 in its collection and made it available on Flipkart for pre-orders. This Android phone with a free 2GB microSD card will set you back by Rs.10,359 with free home delivery.

Running Android 2.2 (Froyo), the Galaxy Fit is powered by a 600MHz processor. It sports a 3.3-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 240x320. On the multimedia front, it has a 5MP autofocus camera with GeoTagging, capable of capturing QVGA video at 15fps. An FM radio with RDS will help you get rid of the monotony of the MP3 music player with DNS2 sound enhancement and video player, which are built in the device.

The phone features Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPRS, EDGE, 3G and USB support on the connectivity front. You can never get lost with this phone in your pocket, thanks to its GPS with AGPS support and the digital compass. The internal memory of 160MB can be expanded up to 32GB with a microSD card. With the 1350 mAh Lithium Ion battery, the specifications mention a talk time of up to 640 hours on 2G, and up to 420 hours on 3G, although you can take it with a pinch of salt as this is usually quite a bit exaggerated.

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Nokia X3-02, C3-01 Touch & Type: Review, Price

Nokia X3-01 & Nokia C3-01
Chennai, Feb 25: India's most trusted handset brand Nokia has announced the launch of two 'Touch and Type' models in India. The new Nokia mobiles, Nokia X3-02 and Nokia C3-01, helps the users to be connected 24x7 through social networking sites.

Nokia, the largest mobile phone maker in the world, continues to dominate the Indian handset market with their affordable mid0range models. Along with high-end smartphones like N8, Nokia aims to control the low-cost segment, which is slightly dominated by Chinese brands and Indian mobile makers like Micromax, Maxx Mobiles, Fly Mobiles etc.

With Nokia X3-02 and Nokia C3-01, Finnish brand aims the vibrant youths of the country who look for an exciting branded mobile at an affordable cost. The social networking features on both phones will make it a perfect Facebook or Twitter mobiles. The 'Touch & Type' form factor helps for better typing and easy connectivity.

Nokia X3-01 Touch & Type has a 2.4 inch Touchscreen inch touchscreen with 240x320 pixel resolution. The traditional alpha-numeric keypad makes it unique from other models available in market. Nokia X301 provides a 5 megapixel camera, which is bigger enough to capture your personal moments.

Nokia X301 also boasts a FM radio and 3.5 mm headset jack, which make it a affordable Nokia multimedia phone. This new touch and type phone also has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 32 GB micro SD support.

Nokia C3-01 also has a touchscreen and traditional keypad. This new mobile provides a 2.4-inch resistive touchscreen with 240x320 pixels resolution. It would provide 40MB internal memory, but would also support a 32GB micro SD memory expansion.

The 3G powered Nokia C301 has a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash at its rear. Other features include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Nokia Messaging etc.

The two new Touch and Type devices by Nokia are designed for those who like to stay connected and share experience with their social group. Nokia X3-02 was 3G enabled among others and had dedicated music and messaging keys and was just 9.6 MM, making it one of the 'slimmest Nokia phones ever," TS Sridhar, Nokia's General Manager (South) said.

The most remarkable feature of these two Nokia mobiles is its price. Users can buy Nokia X302 at an affordable price of Rs 8,839 and Nokia C301 has the price tag of Rs 9,389. Both these two models are available at all leading shops across the country.

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How HTML5 Is Aiding in Cross-Platform Development

The Mobile App Trends Series is sponsored by Sourcebits, a leading product developer for mobile platforms. Sourcebits offers design and development services for iOS, Android, Mobile and Web platforms. Follow Sourcebits on Twitter for recent news and updates.

As the mobile application space continues to explode, developers are increasingly using HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3 to aid in the creation of web apps and native mobile apps. This process is especially useful when dealing with cross-platform development or when working with content that already exists in some form on the web.

We’re going to take a look at how some of the best HTML5-centric, cross-platform mobile frameworks are being used to help developers deliver native app experiences on a variety of devices.


Given the hype and buzz surrounding HTML5, it would be easy to believe that it is a technology that will do your laundry, mow the lawn and make you dinner. In truth, HTML5 isn’t the second coming, and it isn’t an officially ratified standard — yet. The spec continues to edge closer to completion, however, and when combined with JavaScript and CSS3, HTML5 can do some really incredible things.

This is particularly true for mobile devices. A de facto requirement for any modern mobile operating system is the inclusion of a modern HTML5-compliant web browser. The leading modern mobile platforms — iOS and Android — both use WebKit as their bases. Likewise, BlackBerry and HP/Palm are also using WebKit and Microsoft is going to release a mobile version of Internet Explorer 9 for Windows Phone 7.

What this means is that out of the box, modern smartphones and tablets support the bells and whistles that make HTML5 so special. It also means that developers can feel free to use those technologies when creating their applications and not have to worry that the device itself won’t support a particular function.

It also means that developers that choose to create HTML5 web apps for the desktop — like for the Google Chrome Web Store — can often use the same code when crafting an app for the iPad or for other tablets.

Earlier this month, leading iOS developer ScrollMotion released its first simultaneous e-book for the iPad and Chrome Web Store.

Because ScrollMotion has built its underlying app platform in HTML5, porting the content to a non-iOS device, like the Chrome browser, required very little work.


Choosing what mobile platforms to support continues to be a vexing problem for developers both big and small. Supporting one platform can be difficult enough, but now developers not only have multiple operating systems to consider, but multiple device types as well. iPhone and iPad apps can be packaged together, but both require separate experiences and views.

Likewise, Android developers that want to target the upcoming wave of Honeycomb tablets will need to create variations of their apps for the different device types. Add in the BlackBerry PlayBook, HP’s TouchPad and the future devices from Nokia and Microsoft, and it’s not difficult for even a large development team to become overwhelmed.

Fortunately, this problem has created a microcosm of cross-platform mobile development tools. We’ve covered a number of these platforms and frameworks in the past, but we want to highlight a few that specifically target HTML5 and JavaScript.

Appcelerator Titanium

Appcelerator’s Titanium platform was designed from the offset to help web developers create mobile and tablet applications with ease. Over the last year, the platform has seen tremendous growth, and new features and devices are added at a fast pace.

Appcelerator recently acquired Aptana, which should ensure that the tools for building its apps continue to improve and evolve over time.

Some of the apps that have been built with Appcelerator include GetGlue for iPhone, iPad and Android and ScoutMob’s excellent iPhone app.


PhoneGap is an HTML5 app platform that lets developers build native apps using HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. What really sets PhoneGap apart is that it lets developers create a full-functioning mobile web app but place that app in a native wrapper, so that it can use native device APIs and get submitted to the App Store or Android Market.

In essence, it enables mobile developers to create an app just as if they were targeting the mobile browser but with the benefit of being able to get into the App Store.

PhoneGap Build is a new service (still in beta) that lets developers quickly and easily create app-store ready versions of their apps for various platforms. It does all the work of compiling the code for various platforms and gives the developer a final build suitable for submission to the app market of their choice.

Ars Technica used PhoneGap to build its iPad app. This is a great example of using web standards to deliver an app that presents existing content in a customized view and experience. Clint Ecker’s post about how the app was built is worth a read.


Rhodes is a Ruby-based framework designed to help developers create native apps for a wide range of devices and platforms. The reason we included Rhodes in this roundup — despite being a Ruby tool — is that it uses HTML, CSS and JavaScript in its views. That means that HTML can be used for the interface aspect of the app — even if Ruby is what is powering the work on the backend.

The Unify Project is a set of tools designed to make it easier for developers to create smartphone apps using HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. Sponsored by Deutsche Telekom, Unify is published under a dual open source license (MIT and Apache version 2.0) and it uses PhoneGap, Adobe Air, Sass and the quooxdoo JavaScript framework.

Additional Tools

Using various mobile web frameworks alongside an HTML5 platform is a common approach to mobile app development.

Developer Pete Freitag recently gave a presentation on building mobile apps using jQuery Mobile and PhoneGap. Freitag made the slides available on his website and the presentation offers a nice overview of how to use two emerging web frameworks together.

Feitag’s tracking and reimbursement app Mileage Pad was built using PhoneGap and jQuery Mobile.

Other web frameworks that can be used alongside PhoneGap or Rhodes include Sencha Touch and SproutCore.

Or Just Make an HTML5 App

Of course, an increasingly viable option for mobile developers is to just use HTML5 to create a mobile web app.

As HTML5 gets better and browser support of HTML5 improves, the differences between running an HTML5 app in a native wrapper, a la PhoneGap, and accessing an HTML5 web app from an app shortcut on your home screen is going to continue to disappear.

Lots of companies — including Facebook — are looking at HTML5 as the future platform for their apps that target next generation devices.

Earlier this month, 37signals decided to forego building a platform-specific mobile app for its Basecamp product and instead created Basecamp Mobile. This decision initially drew some criticism, with members of the developer community questioning the company’s decision to just use HTML5.

With the recent Readability kerfuffle, it’s possible that more developers will start considering a mobile web approach for their applications. Readability’s Rich Ziade and Dan Benjamin discuss the issue in length, including what it means for mobile developers, on “The Daily Edition.”

The Future is Bright

Whether it’s through a framework, via an application wrapper or as the basis for a mobile web app, HTML5 is going to continue to be an important driving force for mobile application development.

In fact, as the technology evolves, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more HTML5 elements popping up in native desktop applications as well.

Are you using HTML5 when building mobile apps? Let us know.

by Technology · 0

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nintendo 3DS to launch with 18 games

Nintendo expects 18 games to be available to U.S. customers when its 3DS portable-gaming device launches next month.

The lineup of titles hitting store shelves on March 27 will be highlighted by Nintendo's own Pilotwings Resort, an airplane game, as well as Nintendogs + Cats, which will allow gamers to take care of puppies and kittens from the device. All of Nintendo's games will retail for $39.99.

In addition, Capcom will be launching Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition on the 3DS next month, and Electronic Arts will be offering up The Sims 3 and Madden NFL Football. Sega fans will find Super Monkey Ball 3D, while Ridge Racer 3D will be available to racing fans.

Ubisoft will have the largest third-party presence when the 3DS launches, offering four games, including Rayman 3D and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Shadow Wars.

Nintendo's 3DS is one of the more anticipated gaming releases this year. The portable allows gamers to play 3D titles without the need for special glasses. At a press conference last month, Nintendo revealed that the portable would go on sale for $249.99 and hit store shelves on March 27. It also said at the time that some of its more popular franchises, including The Legend of Zelda, would be made available in the launch window.

Nintendo echoed those sentiments this time around, saying that The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, and a new title in the Mario Kart series were on the way. However, it would only say that those titles would be made available at some point in 2011.

All told, Nintendo said that it expects to have 30 games available to customers by early June.

It should be interesting to see if consumers will respond to 3DS games the same way they have responded to DS titles, namely by opting for Nintendo games over third-party releases.

Last month, Nintendo revealed that 11 of the top 20 best-selling games in the U.S. last year were available to the Wii or DS. Nine out of those games were published by Nintendo. Three out of the five most popular DS games in Japan last year were published by Nintendo or Nintendo-owned companies.

The issues third-party game companies have had selling their titles on Nintendo platforms has not gone unnoticed. EA CEO John Riccitiello went so far last year in an interview with IndustryGamers to say that Nintendo isn't always looking out for the best interests of its third-party partners.

"It's not lack of trying," Riccitello said in the interview. "They start the morning thinking what's best for their own intellectual property."

Whether or not that's true is up for debate. But by the looks of things, several developers, including EA, seem keen on capitalizing on the 3DS sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 by Technology · 0

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

txtWeb Launches SMS-Based Browser in India

For users who are not too enthusiastic to browse the web using an in-built browser, txtWeb, has come out with an SMS-based browser. So if you want to update your Facebook status, check cricket scores or the weather status, you only have to send a message.

Grab of txtWeb's website

The txtWeb application is like a browser for mobile phones that don’t really use an in-built browser, but rather a text message to give you information. It doesn’t somehow seem to be applicable for images and videos as well, but then if your handset doesn’t support a browser, it’s quite likely that it won’t do so for videos, music and photos as well. Anyway, if you want to update your Facebook status you send a message titled “@face” followed by your status message, for that you’ll first have to register with this service. The message has to be sent to 92433 42000.

Other services from txtWeb include live cricket scores, weather updates, Google news, passport, railway ticket information and more. You can check out the whole list on their website.

This seems to be an interesting application for those who are using their old mobile phones either due to plain nostalgia or maybe for other reasons. If you do end up using this service, do let us know about your experiences in the comments section.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 by NEWS · 0

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Apple details GSM, CDMA iPhone differences, AT&T CEO disparages App Store

Apple has posted a support document detailing the differences between GSM and CDMA iPhones, and the AT&T CEO criticized Apple's App Store business model, touting instead an interoperable carrier-driven HTML 5 application store.


Justify FullAfter years of selling only GSM iPhone models, Apple, along with Verizon, released a CDMA iPhone 4 last week. In order to head off possible user confusion, Apple has published a support document explaining the differences between the GSM and CDMA versions of the iPhone.

"iPhone supports many phone features, including call waiting, call forwarding, and conference calls. Depending on your wireless carrier's network technology (GSM or CDMA), there are different methods for enabling and using these features," the support article read.

According to the accompanying chart, call forwarding, call waiting and caller ID settings can be adjusted in the settings pane of GSM iPhones, but on the CDMA iPhone, users need to dial numbers to enable or disable the features.

In addition, GSM supports conference calls of up to five people simultaneously, while CDMA supports up to two calls simultaneously. "CDMA networks may not be able to add, swap, or merge calls in certain situations," the article noted.

The one feature on the chart that the GSM iPhone lacks when compared to the CDMA iPhone is the ability to dial a hard pause. The CDMA version of the iPhone, however, is unable to place a call on hold.

The document also noted that phone numbers that contain alphabetic characters beyond seven digits "may not dial as expected." Finally, due to the CDMA iPhone's lack of a SIM card, several SIM card-related features are unavailable on the CDMA iPhone.

GSM, CDMA iPhone

One week after losing US exclusivity of the iPhone, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson expressed frustration with app stores that work on just one mobile operating system, the Associated Press reports.

AT&T app envy

One week after losing US exclusivity of the iPhone, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson expressed frustration with app stores that work on just one mobile operating system, the Associated Press reports.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday, Stephenson criticized companies like Apple and Google as restricting consumers.

"You purchase an app for one operating system, and if you want it on another device or platform, you have to buy it again," Stephenson said. "That's not how our customers expect to experience this environment."

Stephenson's comments are confusing, however, as AT&T's customers have indeed come to expect exactly "this environment" while enjoying exclusive access to the iPhone App Store in the US for two and a half years. Apple launched the App Store in 2008 and has since seen the number of apps available on the digital storefront swell to 350,000.

As an alternative to the one platform model, the CEO touted the recently launched Wholesale Applications Community, or WAC. The WAC, which utilizes HTML 5, would allow carriers to sell applications directly to customers across a variety of devices.

Mobile phone manufacturers LG Electronics, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE have all committed to making WAC-compatible phones. The four largest carriers in the US -- AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA -- are all members of the WAC, according to the report.

Despite declining to attend the Mobile World Congress, Apple's presence has still been felt at the event in remarks from Stephenson and other presenters. On a more positive note, the Cupertino, Calif., company took the trade show's top award for a mobile device. The iPhone 4 was awarded the title of "Best Mobile Device" for its "great screen, sharp design, fantastic materials, and phenomenal ecosystem for app developers."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 by NEWS · 0

Motorola 'Xoom' Tablet to Start at $600, Verizon Version at $800

Motorola 'Xoom' Tablet to Start at $600, Verizon Version at $800

Okay, now we're moving in the right direction.

It appears that the rumored $800 price tag for the 10-inch Motorola Xoom Android tablet has been confirmed by the company's CEO.

However, Reuters reports that Motorola will also be selling a Wi-Fi-only version of the Xoom that'll be priced at around $600. Official availability dates haven't been announced, although previous rumors have indicated that the Xoom may launch as early as February 24th.

The $800 version will contain a Verizon-compatible 3G connection but won't require a service contract. The tablet will also be able to connect to Verizon's 4G network via an upgrade in the future, though no dates have been set yet.

If the Wi-Fi version of the Xoom contains the same specs as the Verizon version, minus the cellular connection—10.1-inch 1280x800 resolution screen, 32 gigabytes of storage, 1GHz dual-core processor, two cameras—a $600 price tag would align it with the 32-gigabyte Wi-Fi iPad, but would still be $100 more expensive than Apple's entry level 16-gigabyte iPad.

The Xoom's hardware advantages over the iPad, however, include a higher-resolution screen, faster processor, cameras, and upgradeable memory. We're still waiting for Apple to announce the next version of the iPad, though, so it'll be interesting to see if Motorola's able to beat it to market.

The thing that makes me a little suspicious about the idea of the Wi-Fi Xoom being outfitted similarly to the Verizon Xoom is that $200 seems like an awful lot for the simple addition of a cellular chipset. I wouldn't be totally blown away to find out that the Wi-Fi Xoom had only 16 gigabytes of storage—or maybe even just four gigabytes that'd be expandable via an SD card.

by NEWS · 0

HTC Launches a 7-Inch, 1.5 GHz Tablet

Besides the two Facebook-enabled mid-range Android smartphones and a slew of high-end Android devices, HTC has also launched a powerful aluminum tablet called HTC Flyer.

The device should really be flying with a 1.5 GHz CPU (single-core), 1 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage space (further expandable with microSD memory cards). It also features a 1024 x 600 7-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera on the back and an additional 1.3-megapixel one on the front for video calls.

It’s a powerful machine, but it does lack one thing its competitors have: Android Honeycomb. The HTC Flyer will be running an improved version of Android Gingerbread and a special version of HTC’s Sense UI designed for tablets.

Furthermore, with a 7-inch screen, it’s smaller than most of its new competitors, such as the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. HTC will probably have to follow up on the Flyer soon if it wants to catch a sizable chunk of the tablet market.

by Technology · 0

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MWC 2011: New RIM PlayBook Models with HSPA+, LTE

MWC 2011: New RIM PlayBook Models with HSPA+, LTE
Research In Motion might have stayed behind in terms of introduction an actual product in the market. However, the company hasn't lagged behind in announcing competitive tablets in the growing segment. At the ongoing Mobile World Congress, RIM has announced two new models of upcoming PlayBook tablet - one with HSPA+ support and other with LTE. The original PlayBook models - WiFi and WiFi+WiMAX are scheduled to start shipping by the second quarter of this year. In a way, RIM has leapfrogged 3G and looks forward to future-friendly 4G tablet models.

At the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 last month, RIM PlayBook did win many hearts and accolades with is initial performance. Powered by the new BlackBerry Tablet OS (QNX Real-Time OS), the PlayBook has dual-core 1GHz microprocessor and 1GB RAM. It comes with a 7-inch WSVGA (1024x600) touchscreen display that promises 1080p HD video playback. The 5 megapixel back panel HD camera promises respectable image quality while the front panel 3 megapixel HD camera will offer HD quality video conferencing and chat.

Apart from current generation features offering hardware, the BlackBerry Tablet OS powered with QNX technology will also let you tether with BlackBerry OS 5.0 or higher running smartphones. Smoother web browsing experience is expected as the BlackBerry tablet OS supports Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Java, OpenGL, and Adobe Mobile AIR. Not only that, you can also enjoy full-fledged web browsing with HTML5 support.

Keeping the features aside, PlayBook WiFi and WiMAX models are expected to start shopping in the second quarter of this year. These two new models supporting HSPA+ and LTE would be introduced simultaneous during the same period.

The tablet war will heat up in the second quarter of 2011 when several feature rich tablets would be available. Motorola XOOM, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, HTC Flyer, LG Optimus Pad, Apple iPad 2 and RIM PlayBook will have a huge fight in the consumer market ring. It's too early to guess which tablet will win since all of them have promising specifications.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 by NEWS · 0

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe Previewed Before Geneva Auto Show

Mercedes-Benz’s new-product parade continues apace, with the all-new C-Class coupe scheduled to be revealed at the Geneva auto show next month. In its base C250 trim, the coupe is powered by the brand’s new 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, developing 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque, while the higher-spec C350 receives a 3.5-liter V-6 with 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

Like the revised SLK roadster, the coupe’s front fascia bears rectilinear, sculpted elements, with an upright grille and subtle aero-kit bodywork below the LED directional lights that emphasizes the coupe’s lowered profile — 1.5 inches lower than the sedan.

The C-Class coupe will compete against the BMW 328i and 335i, the Cadillac CTS coupe and Audi A5 when it goes on sale in September.

by NEWS · 0

2012 Audi A6 Goes on Sale in India in September

Click to enlarge [The new A6 debuted at the 2011 NAIAS in Detroit]
The new A6 debuted at the 2011 NAIAS in Detroit

Audi unveiled the new A6 at the North American Auto Show in Detroit in January and has lready confirmed that the new sedan will go on the world by year end. Furthermore, India was one of the markets tipped to get the new model as soon as possible, but it has now been confirmed that the car will go on sale in September.

A report by IndianCarBikes reveals that the German brand will roll out the car in autumn and will initially equip it with a 2.0-liter TDI engine with 177 hp and 360 Nm of torque. New engine options will be released at a later date, while pricing information is very likely to emerge during summer.

The Indian market has become a key destination for Audi models and the German carmaker intends to fully benefit from the growing auto sector in the country by launching new products there as soon as possible. In 2011 for instance, Audi is expected to launch a total of three models by year end: A6, A7 and A8.

"In China and Japan we are the number one (car maker). In India and in U.S, we are growing very fast. However, in India, we need to be patient. We intend to reach 23 to 24 per cent market share this year of the targeted 30 per cent," Audi India Director Michael Perschke told PTI in an interview in January.

by NEWS · 0

Now, the legendary Maruti 800 can ‘fly’


Maruti 800 – it was a car which stole the country’s imagination at one point of time and owning it was a thing to be proud of. Our very own Sachin Tendulkar was head over heels for the Maruti 800. So much so, that the little master bought a blue Maruti 800 as his first car.

Today, when so many other similar small cars have flooded the Indian car market, the Maruti 800 still stands out – why? – because it can fly!…thanks to the dedication and tons of hard work put in by AK Wishwanath from Karnataka’s capital, who aptly named the flying car “B’Lorean”

This flying car won quiet a few admirers at the Aero India Show 2001 in Bangalore. The car has rotor blades on its roof and vacuum space besides its wheels. This, reportedly allows the car to lift up like an aeroplane.

It has taken Vishwanath 16 long years and 40 patents to reach where he is now. The Director General of Civil Aviation has still not given the flying car the permission to fly. We hope this unique invention will get somewhere- it will surely ease out traffic problems a bit. (Bharat Chronicle news)

by NEWS · 0

Friday, February 11, 2011

HP TouchPad Release Date Leaked

The HP TouchPad release date has been leaked along with a potential price tag, indicating that a WebOS tablet may be cheaper than expected.

The HP TouchPad is the first of its kind, a WebOS tablet featuring a 9.7-inch capacitive multitouch display. It'll compete directly with upcoming Android 3.0 tablets, but it's so far been unclear when HP would release it. A release date may now have been leaked though, as the BGR says that a source told them it is scheduled for release by the end of June. The HP TouchPad is also said to cost $700, which sounds like a steal when taking its specs into account.

The next-generation WebOS experience provided by the HP TouchPad will be part of a versatile WebOS universe of devices. The HP Pre 3 high-end smartphone is expected to be released around the same time as the TouchPad. Utilizing Touch-to-Share functionality, a Pre 3 user could for instance instantly share a Web page by touching the Pre 3 to a TouchPad.

We wondered last year whether WebOS and Windows 8 was on a collision course, but HP said during the TouchPad event that the company would offer Windows 8 as well as WebOS devices. WebOS computers are indeed planned to be released as part of the WebOS universe, so what HP has announced so far is just the beginning.

The HP Pre 3 is in our opinion a promising smartphone for mobile professionals, and the HP TouchPad is quite a beginning for WebOS in the tablet arena. The TouchPad is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor of the brand new APQ8060 with integrated Adreno 220 GPU kind. Qualcomm pointed out during the presentation that they are among the ones building ARM-based application processors that beat ARM's own designs.

Of course, it remains to be seen how much juice WebOS is capable of squeezing out of the APQ8060, which is capable of performing tasks far more advanced than what's currently announced for WebOS (such as stereoscopic 3D). HP has added several hundred engineers to the WebOS team since the acquisition though, so we guess the WebOS experience will gradually become more advanced (we imagine there's a reason why WebOS computers are on the roadmap).

Right here and now though, HP Synergy is a recurring name when it comes to the WebOS experience. It lets you sign in to Facebook, Google, Microsoft Exchange, LinkedIn and Yahoo! accounts in order to integrate contacts, calendar and e-mail automatically on the TouchPad. The HP TouchPad also includes a WebOS communication suite powered by HP Synergy, which includes e-mail, instant messaging, contacts, calendar, videos and a front-facing camera for video calling.

It doesn't stop there, however, as the TouchPad also offers connected photo albums that make it easy to share and view pictures directly from popular services such as Facebook, Snapfish and Photobucket. It works seamlessly with the TouchPad's user interface for a natural and efficient experience. Furthermore, the TouchPad comes pre-loaded with Amazon's Kindle Store for eBooks and the HP Movie Store for movie and TV show downloads as well as magazine subscriptions.

If you're in need of productivity features, the HP TouchPad offers QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite, which lets you view and edit documents such as Microsoft Word and Excel. It also comes with VPN support to connect to coporate networks. It goes without saying that the TouchPad is also compatible with HP printers for wireless printing.

Music fans will receive their fair share of attention on the HP TouchPad too, as the WebOS tablet promises amazing sound quality courtesy of Beats Audio. The Amazon MP3 Store is part of the WebOS experience too. Another key part of WebOS is "Just Type", which lets you start an e-mail, create a message, update your social networking status, search the Web and more - all before you've opened an application (also a key feature on the upcoming Pre 2 and Veer).

Lastly, the HP TouchPad has built-in HP Touchstone technology for easy charging (sold separately). The WebOS Exhibition feature lets you run applications designed specifically for Touchstone. Set your TouchPad on Touchstone and Exhibition launches automatically, showing you anything from today's agenda to a slideshow of your photos.

HP TouchPad Specs

# HP WebOS
# 1.2GHz Snapdragon Dual-Core (APQ8060)
# 9.7-inch multitouch screen with XGA (1024 by 768) resolution
# 16GB or 32GB internal storage
# Full browser with Adobe Flash Player 10.1 beta
# Wi-Fi Wireless-N with WPA, WPA2, WEP, 802.1X authentication
# Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
# 3.5mm headphone jack
# Internal speakers and Beats Audio
# 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera
# Six-axis motion sensing (accelerometer and gyroscope)
# Light sensor and compass (magnetometer)
# 6300 mAh battery
# Micro-USB with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
# Dimensions: 7.48 by 9.53 by 0.54 inches (19 by 24.2 by 1.37 cm)
# Weight: 1.6 pounds (740 g)

HP TouchPad

Friday, February 11, 2011 by NEWS · 0

Olive's Android 2.3 Gingerbread phone for Rs. 20k

Olive's Android 2.3 Gingerbread phone for Rs. 20k

We had heard about an Android 2.3 running smart-phone from Indian consumer electronics maker Olive to be launched today. And like clock-work, we have in front of us, the OliveSmart V-S300. Unveiled in a partnership with Indian telco Aircel, this phone can proudly boast itself as being the first Android phone to feature the current-latest version 2.3 of the OS (codenamed Gingerbread).

The V-S300 has a 4.1-inch 800 x 480 pixel display and has a sleek, yet familiar 9.9mm thin design. How familiar? We'd bet that the OliveSmart V-S300 is a re-branded Huawei IDEOS X6 -- a phone that was expected to launch in the country mid-January this year.

Whatever the case, you'll be glad to know of the meaty internals it has -- a Snapdragon MSM8255 1GHz processor coupled with an Adreno 205 graphics chip and 512MB RAM. What does this mean for you? It means that you should get quite a speedy performance from this phone.

The phone is also touted to be the first HSPA+ phone, an evolutionary version of 3G that's being (wrongly) branded as 4G in countries like the US by mobile operators there. This will allow download speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps, and while we aren't sure about Aircel, Tata Docomo does support HSPA+ and offers download speeds of up to 21.1 Mbps.

Multimedia-wise, the OliveSmart V-S300 is well-equipped with a 5 mega-pixel auto-focus camera at the back, and a video-call camera at the front. It shoots 720p HD video at a smooth 30 frames per second, and can also output HD video to a bigger screen thanks to an HDMI port on-board. Let's hope the 1400 mAh battery is able to serve enough juice to power all these intensive functions.

The OliveSmart V-S300 sells for a fantastic Rs. 20,000 price tag which is justified, given what you're getting in return. Now only if this handset does well in reality as it does on paper, I'll be left with no choice but to make amends to our next Best rated Android phones list.

by NEWS · 0

India launch of Microsoft Windows Phone 7 this year

HYDERABAD: Microsoft plans to launch its Windows Phone 7 and search engine Bing in the Indian market this year, an official said here on Wednesday.

The software major's India development centre has fine-tuned the innovative applications of Bing for its launch in India.

"Windows Phone 7 will be launched in a few months but the date has not yet been decided," Amit Chatterjee, managing director of Microsoft India Development Centre (MSIDC), told reporters.

He did not agree that Windows Phone 7 already launched abroad is heavy and slow. "A number of products are to suit the demands of a billion satisfied customers all around the world. We are making all efforts to give them a brand new visual experience," he said.

He said the device allows Microsoft to bring together its assets like Office, Explorer and search engine Bing. The applications range from simple to those with more work flow.

Windows Phone 7 has already been launched in the US and other countries with its global partner HTC. Windows Phone 7 and Bing are two of the focus areas of MSIDC.

Chattterjee, who recently succeeded Srini Koppulu as the MD, termed Bing as a decision engine, quite different from the other search engines.

On cloud computing, Chatterjee said it offered great opportunity and MSIDC has a team focusing only on cloud computing.

Chatterjee said the centre has contributed to 270 patents filed during last five years.

He denied that Microsoft downsizing workforce elsewhere had any impact on MSIDC here. "We will continue our robust campus hiring. We will continue to recruit 150 to 170 graduates every year from the campuses across India," he said.

One of Microsoft's largest product development centres outside Redmond, MSIDC along with its Bangalore unit has a strong team of 1,650 employees and is developing new products and technologies for the global Microsoft portfolio.

by NEWS · 0

Mercedes-Benz's $750M Bond Is Backed By Auto Leases - Source

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Mercedes-Benz Auto Lease Trust is issuing a $750 million asset-backed bond, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The deal, dubbed MBALT 2011-A, will be backed by a pool of closed-end vehicle leases, all of which are new vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz, originated through Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC, an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG (DDAIY, DAI.XE).

There had been a small break in the announcement of asset-backed deals as industry participants had been at a conference in Orlando, Fla., until Wednesday, but the expectation is that a steady stream of bonds will now surface.

In the meantime, the commercial mortgage-backed securities market has seen several transactions being marketed.

On Thursday, Morgan Stanley (MS) and Bank of America Merrill Lynch have launched a $1.55 billion commercial mortgage-backed security, which is scheduled to price later Thursday, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The $597.15 million triple-A rated portion of the transaction has launched at 115 basis points over swaps, a benchmark.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is working on a $1.5 billion CMBS.

Deutsche Bank AG (DB, DBK.XE) and UBS AG (UBS, UBSN.VX) have priced a $2.2 billion bond.

Separately, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS, RBS.LN) and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) are also marketing a $1.3 billion commercial mortgage-backed security.

by NEWS · 0

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Windows Phone 7 devices get Amazon mobile app

Windows Phone 7 smartphone owners. You can now spend cash way too easily with the new Amazon mobile app.

Optimized for WP7, the app is fairly straight forward and doesn’t seem too much different from the Android and iOS versions. Purchases are promised to be secure, and you can even buy an expensive HDTV with just one click! Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

The app is free to download from the Windows Phone Marketplace now.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011 by Technology · 0

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

iControlPad turns your smartphone into a game controller

A new, clamp-on gaming accessory for iPhones, Android handsets, and other Bluetooth-enabled devices promises to replace troublesome "virtual" on-screen joysticks with real ones, although it could take some time before your favorite mobile games support the device.
First announced way back in 2008, the iControlPad ($75) is finally set to ship this month, and it marks yet another mobile accessory aiming to make touchscreen gaming on smartphone a little less awkward.

The device itself (which I've yet to see in person) consists of a rectangular module with all your familiar gaming controls: a D-pad on the left, a quartet of buttons on the right, two additional buttons in the center (where the "Select" and "Start" controls usually sit), and—most importantly—a pair of analog nubs, meaning no more fumbling with on-screen "virtual" joysticks for first-person shooter games. A 1,500mAh battery powers the controller and provides auxiliary juice to your phone via USB.

The iControlPad comes with a pair of plastic clamps for holding your handset in place—and once all is said and done, you're looking at a contraption that's a little more twice the size of a standard touchscreen smartphone.

Handsets such as the latest iPhones, the BlackBerry Torch, and the LG Optimus S should fit snugly, according to the iControlPad website, although certain devices—including the Motorola Backflip, the Samsung Intercept, and the iPod Touch—may require a little extra padding. (Larger clamps are said to be coming for big-screen smartphones like the Motorola Droid X and the HTC Evo 4G.)

Because the iControlPad relies on a Bluetooth connection, the accessory should be compatible with a wide range of iOS, Android, and even BlackBerry handsets. iPhone users can connect to the iControlPad in Bluetooth keyboard mode, the developer site notes, although it sounds like you may have to jailbreak your phone to get the most out of the controller. Hmmm.

Oh, and one more thing—don't expect to fire up "N.O.V.A. 2" on the iPhone and immediately start blasting away with the iControlPad. While the accessory is "fully working and tested," apps that support the clamp-on controller "may be thin on the ground at first," the developers warn. That said, iControlPad should "just work" on any Android game that supports an external PC gamepad.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 by Technology · 0

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 arrives for Rs. 15,000

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 arrives for Rs. 15,000

Oh boy, what a day for mid-range Androids it has been -- only a few minutes after we were done publishing the Motorola DEFY review, our eyeballs almost burst out at the sight of what was selling on

The Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830, which was supposed to be launched as the Galaxy Cooper in the country, is in stock and selling for Rs. 14,990. This iPhone-lookalike has a decent set of features like a 3.5-inch HVGA (320 x 480 pixel) screen, 5 mega-pixel camera, 800 MHz processor and runs Android 2.2. Anyway, if you don't know much about it then you can read more Below.

That's quite an attractive pricing and a good Rs. 3,500 cheaper than the DEFY. You will loose out on the tough tank-like build quality and the slightly bigger but higher-resolution WVGA (854 x 480 pixel) display. In return, you'll get Android 2.2 out of the box. Dimensions-wise, it's more or less the same foot-print as the DEFY (actually a little thinner), and that's a good thing.

So, if you were to choose, which one would it be? Or are you waiting for even better phones in the same price-range to arrive from other manufacturers?

In the past few months, we looked at what was available for the value-conscious Android phone buyer. As it stands now, the LG Optimus One P500 surfaced as the best of the lot. But best of the lot does not mean the best overall. The missing gap for a worthy Android phone between the Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 price range was so wide, that it made me pour my heart out.

The recent leaks of upcoming devices are pleasantly surprising as they are exactly what I was talking about. The following are three tempting Android phones that you can buy without mulling over a compromise on features, and yet will not make you feel guilty that you've paid too much for it. None of these handsets are available in India yet, but we hope they will come to us soon. Out of these, two are expected to be shown at the Mobile World Congress next month, while the third one is selling elsewhere already.

When it was first shown in spy-shots a few days ago, it was termed as the Galaxy S Mini; a co-incidence to something we imagined months ago. But after revealing further details, we have a much better picture of what we're gonna get.

A 3.5-inch capacitive display with an HVGA (320 x 480 pixels) that resembles the first three iPhone models. While it's surely not a Super AMOLED type (Samsung Wave I), we don't know whether it is of an S-LCD variety (Samsung Wave II) or just a typical LCD one. Either way, we'll take what it has to offer -- at least the 3.5 inch size will provide that extra width (as compared to typical 3.2 inch ones on many Androids) for a better spaced-out virtual keyboard.
Second, it runs Android 2.2 (Froyo), which may not be as recent as version 2.3 (Gingerbread), but we can at least keep our hopes a little high about it updating to 2.3 some day. Either way, you won't be missing out on the game-changing features like Wi-fi hotspot, ability to install apps on an SD card, Adobe Flash support etc., with Froyo. Moving on, its 800 MHz Qualcomm processor should hopefully iron out those random sluggish instances experienced on phones with a 600 MHz Qualcomm processor (like the Optimus One P500).

In the sub Rs. 15,000 Android phone range, there's not a single phone that has a good mix of camera features. Most have a measly 3 megapixel resolution with varying disparity -- some have autofocus sensors but no LED Flash, some have fixed focus with an LED flash, while the worst of the lot have neither. I'm glad that the Samsung Cooper will have a 5 megapixel autofocus unit with an LED flash. And if its anything like the sensor on the Samsung Wave or Galaxy S, then I'm sure we'll be able to click fairly good quality snaps on it. However, there is no news whether it does 720p HD video recording.

As for connectivity, it's pretty much sorted just like the others out there (GPS, Wi-fi 802.11n, 3G). It will also feature DLNA for wireless media streaming to a compatible device. A 1350 mAh battery sounds moderately adequate. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a front-facing camera, at least in the pics we've seen till now. To all people enthusiastic about video-calling - I feel your pain.

It sells in Thailand for roughly Rs. 16,246. If Samsung gets the Galaxy Cooper here at that price, it'll probably be the best thing for people wanting to own something like an iPhone without going bankrupt (saw how similar they look?). We can't share our enthusiasm enough to get our hands on this baby!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 by NEWS · 0

Seeing double: Sprint unveils Kyocera Echo with dual touch screens

After weeks of teasing an "industry first," Sprint finally took the wraps off its secret project and unveiled the Kyocera Echo, the first dual touch-screen smartphone, at a special event in New York today.

Available later this spring for $199.99 with a two-year contract, the Kyocera Echo boasts two 3.5-inch WVGA touch screens and a "pivot hinge" that allows you to place the two displays side by side to form a larger 4.7-inch display. In development for more than a year and a half (even longer for the hardware), the Echo runs Android 2.2 and features software that is optimized to take advantage of the two screens.
There are actually four modes in which you can use the Android 2.2 device: standard, tablet, optimized, and simultasking. In standard mode, you can use the Echo as a traditional touch-screen smartphone. The pivot hinge allows you to tuck the second display under the first, so you can navigate and operate the handset like many of today's latest devices. Meanwhile, tablet mode lets you view and interact with an app on both screens.

The optimized and simultask modes are a little more advanced in their capabilities. The former supports a single app and gives you the main view on one screen, and the app's complementary features and functionality on the second screen. For example, if you're checking e-mail, you'll get a view of your full inbox on one side of the screen, and the second will give display the full text of a selected message. Another example is the photo gallery. You can get a full view of a photo on the top screen and a thumbnail photo gallery on the bottom.

However, the simultask mode is where the Echo's true attraction might lie. In this mode, you'll be able to take multitasking to a new level as you'll be able to use two apps concurrently with each displayed on one of the dual touch screens. At launch, there will only be seven main apps that will support simultask mode--browser, contacts, e-mail, messaging, gallery, phone, and VueQue (YouTube app that lets you view video on the top screen and lists related clips below). Each will be marked with a small blue-gray box to indicate simultask support.
Once you select one of those apps, you can tap both screens to select a second app to display on the other screen. There's an onscreen function that will allow you to easily swap the tasks as well.

When we first heard reports of the Kyocera Echo this morning, we weren't sure what to expect but we can definitely say we were impressed by what we saw during our meeting with Sprint and Kyocera earlier in the day, but of course, there are concerns. For one, what is the battery life going to be with two touch screens? The Echo ships with a 1,370mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 5 hours and Sprint says it's been testing on par or better than other smartphones. However, Sprint is including a second battery along with a charging case in the box, so you can easily swap out the battery.
The second concern we had was how smooth the navigation would be between the two screens. Both Sprint and Kyocera realized that minimizing the seam between both displays was a key factor in creating a good user experience, so they did their best to make that happen. We can say it was certainly better than what we expected, but there is still a break in fluidity with some tasks, such as navigating a Web site. We only had a few minutes with the device, however, so perhaps this is something we could grow accustomed to with more time.

Other features of the Kyocera Echo of note include a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording, mobile hot-spot capabilities (up to five devices), and 1GB internal memory and preinstalled 8GB microSD card. As noted earlier, the Echo is running Android 2.2, but there is no custom user interface.
One omission that might disappoint some is the lack of 4G support. However, Sprint said in order to keep costs down and in order to bring the smartphone to market sooner rather than later, there was a bit of trade off.
We've got more coverage coming on the Kyocera Echo, including a First Look video, so keep it dialed in here for more but in the meantime, check out our hands-on photo gallery below and definitely be sure share your thoughts on the Echo with us below. We're really curious to hear what you think about the device.

by Technology · 0

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Motorola Xoom featured in ad packed with Apple references

After posting an ad teaser and a series of web banner ads promoting its new tablet, Motorola presented its entire full length Super Bowl spot for the Xoom tablet, packed with references to Apple in a bid to court iPad users.

The new ad mixes imagery from Apple's iconic "1984" ad, which first introduced the Macintosh as liberating technology breakthrough, as well as "Lemmings," a more pointedly competitive spot Apple aired in 1985, which portrayed non-Mac users as blind followers who needed to remove their blindfolds to avoid catastrophic consequences.

While Apple's "1984" is universally regarded as one of the best ads ever produced, "Lemmings" was immediately criticized as a failure for being perceived as negatively depicting the company's would-be customers as ignorant and misguided.

Motorola's new spot for the Xoom tablet works to balance the two ideas together, portraying Apple's customers as ubiquitous clones wearing the same white earbuds and blank uniforms, but injecting a sympathetic storyline where a Xoom-using man flirts with a girl using images presented on his tablet. The girl then responds to his advances by removing her white iPod earbuds.

Drones in white portrayed in the ad are depicted listening to small handheld iPods, but none are shown using an iPad. To a casual observer, the man using Motorola's Xoom might be mistaken for being an iPad, as all that's shown of the new tablet is its virtual page-turning in a nondescript ebook reader app (reading George Orwell's "1984"), Google Maps (featuring Android-only 3D building views that most viewers are unlikely to catch), and the camera app new to Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

A brief animated cartoon depicting a stick figure man giving flowers to a stick figure girl, and published to the man's own tablet via YouTube, perhaps using the Android-only Adobe Flash, is shown (as opposed to just giving her the flowers, something that doesn't require an $800 tablet), but it is not explained how the photo of the flowers the man takes was converted into the animation.

Apple's own iPad ads have focused on more obvious and practical applications of the device via its library of as Apple claims, more than 60,000 unique apps.

Recognizing the shots of the new tablet as being distinct from an iPad would require a technophile enthusiast's understanding of the differences of the two, which is never presented in the spot. Instead, the new tablet is only identified briefly by name at the end of the clip, "Motorola Zoom with Google, the world's first Android 3.0 tablet," with none of its unique features ever been expressly noted.

Xoom details

Motorola's new tablet boasts a slightly larger screen and resolution (10.1 inches, 1280x800) than Apple's existing iPad. It also uses a cinematic 16:9 display ratio aimed at watching movies, contrasted with the more computer-like 1024x768 resolution of the iPad's 9.7 inch screen and its portrait-oriented dock, aimed more at productivity apps like Apple's own Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Internally, Motorola's Xoom tablet uses a faster dual core Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC, roughly similar to the new Texas Instruments chip used by RIM's PlayBook; both are a full generation ahead of the Apple A4 SoC used in last year's iPad and the similar Samsung Hummingbird chip used in the Galaxy Tab. Xoom also includes 1GB of RAM, four times as much as the existing iPad.

The Xoom also includes dual cameras; a 2 megapixel front facing camera for video chat and a 5 megapixel rear-facing unit with 4× digital zoom and auto focus, capable of 720p video capture. Apple's existing iPad has no cameras, while the coming iPad 2 refresh is expected to add a much simpler VGA FaceTime camera and basic 1 megapixel rear camera identical to that being used in the iPod touch, rather than the significantly better 5 megapixel camera used by iPhone 4.

Xoom is, according to an Engadget report, expected to become available February 24, in a CDMA/EVDO 3G-only version sold by Verizon for $800. The unit will be accompanied by optional data plans that start at $20 per month for 1GB, but an ad from BestBuy also notes that "to activate WiFi functionality on this device, a minimum of 1 month data subscription is required." Unlike the iPad, there are no cheaper WiFi-only versions of the Xoom.

BestBuy Xoom ad - via Engadget

Toshiba is expected to release its own Honeycomb tablet with hardware very similar to Motorola's. Toshiba launched a product site for its new tablet using Flash, which blocked visitors using an iPhone or iPad, displaying a teaser message indicating that site required Flash, something iOS doesn't support.

However, the company also created a plain HTML mobile version of the site that works fine on iPhones and iPads, and simply made it impossible to accidentally discover.

Sunday, February 6, 2011 by NEWS · 0

Stereo satellites move either side of Sun

Two US spacecraft have moved either side of the Sun to establish observing positions that should return remarkable new information about our star.

Image of the far side of the Sun based on high resolution Stereo data
An image of the far side of the Sun based on Stereo data from Wednesday. The black line indicates a data gap that will be closed in the coming days

Launched in 2006, the Stereo satellites have gradually been drifting apart - one in front of the Earth in its orbit, the other lagging behind.

On Sunday, Nasa said the spacecraft had arrived at points that put the Sun directly between them.

It will give solar physicists the first 360-degree view of our star.

Stereo is short for Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory.

The mission is studying the Sun's great explosive events that hurl billions of tonnes of charged particles at Earth - events that can disrupt power grids and satellites.

These Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), as they are known, can also be hazardous to astronauts in space.

Professor Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, is an investigator on the project.

He told BBC News: "By being away from the Sun-Earth line, you can look back at the space between the Sun and the Earth and see any of these clouds, these coronal mass ejections that are thrown out of the Sun and are coming our way - you can even see these things passing over the Earth. Those are the key to what Stereo's all about."

The two spacecraft will continue to move further apart, heading toward each other on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth; this means that the full view provided by the two craft will fade, leaving a growing region behind the Sun - on the Earth side - that they do not see.

However, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, launched in Earth orbit a year ago, will remain fixed on the Sun, providing the missing piece of the puzzle.

Achieving an all-round-view view of the Sun will be key to understanding what drives the complex processes in the Sun, believes Professor Harrison.

Artist's impression of the Stereo mission The Stereo satellites are already feeding data into space weather forecasts

"You really see it with these widely separated regions of the Sun's atmosphere that are connected magnetically, showing activity at the same time, or causing activity somewhere else," he explained.

"These things stress to us that you can't really study the Sun in great detail just by looking at a bit of it, any more than you could understand the brain by looking at a bit of it or study the Earth's polar regions by looking at the equator. You need this global view to really piece the jigsaw puzzle together."

Scientists suspect that activity on the Sun can on occasions go global, with eruptions on opposite sides of the Sun triggering and feeding off of one another. With the Stereo craft in their new positions, this phenomenon can now be studied.

Stereo is already being used to improve "space weather" forecasts for airlines, power companies, satellite operators, and other customers.

by NEWS · 0

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