Friday, October 7, 2011


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Aakash - India's ultra low-cost tablet

'Aakash', the low cost tablet intended for students was launched today by Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resource Development in Delhi. Aakash is infact Datawind's UbiSlate 7 tablet. It has a 7 inch resistive touchscreen and runs Android Froyo. Procurement of one unit from the manufacturer costs Indian government Rs.2276. But 50% of the cost will be subsidized before distributing it to the students. There has been unconfirmed reports of GPRS connectivity also being included in the tablet, but it is absent in the official feature list.

        Processor: 366 Mhz with Graphics accelerator and HD Video processor
        Memory (RAM): 256MB RAM / Storage (Internal): 2GB Flash
        Storage (External): 2GB to 32GB Supported
        Peripherals (USB2.0 ports, number):  1 Standard USB port
        Audio out: 3.5mm jack / Audio in: 3.5mm jack
        Display and Resolution: 7” display with 800x480 pixel resolution
        Input Devices: Resistive touch screen
        Connectivity and Networking: WiFi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g
        Power and Battery: Up to 180 minutes on battery.  AC adapter 200-240 volt range.
        OS: Android 2.2
        Document Rendering
         Supported Document formats: DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, ODT, ODP
         PDF viewer, Text editor
        Multimedia and Image Display
         Image viewer supported formats: PNG, JPG, BMP and GIF
         Supported audio formats: MP3, AAC, AC3, WAV, WMA
         Supported video formats: MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, FLV
        Communication and Internet
         Web browser - Standards Compliance:  xHTML 1.1 compliant, JavaScript 1.8 compliant
         Separate application for online YouTube video
         Safety and other standards compliance
        CE certification / RoHS certification 
    Other: Additional Web Browser: UbiSurfer-Browser with compression/acceleration and IE8 rendering. 

  There will also be an option for buying a carry pouch with built in keyboard which costs about Rs.300. 


Apple iPhone 4S and the refreshed iPod lineup

Yesterday's Apple event was a bit of a downer for many as they unveiled only iPhone 4S, not iPhone 5. Rumour mills were dishing out articles about iPhone 5 for the past few months. So naturally people were expecting way too much from yesterday's event.

    iP4S looks exactly the same as iPhone 4 but with all new hardware inside and will be running iOS5. It now has the dual core A5 chip. Apple claims graphics will be 7x faster and CPU 2x faster compared to that of iP4. iP4S is now compatible with both GSM and CDMA thereby getting rid of the need for separate models. They have introduced a new 8 MP camera with a new five element lens giving 30% more sharpness & is now capable of full HD video recording. iCloud will be available as part of iOS 5. Apple seems to have taken care of the faulty antenna in iP4 by introducing a new antenna design in iP4S. It can now intelligently switch antennas to achieve the best call quality.

    The feature that Apple presented as the USP of iP4S was Siri, the intelligent personal assistant. We can talk to Siri to get things done on the iP4S that too using natural language. Siri currently supports English(UK,US and Australian), German and French.

     Apple also talked about the new iOS5 and its features. Introduced a few new apps and updates to existing native ones. The new apps introduced were 'Find My Friends' and 'Cards'. The former is similar to the Google latitude and the latter one helps you send cards made using your iDevice as physical mail to the addressee. Apple also mentioned iCloud features and iTunes Match.  iTunes Match is a cloud music match service which builds an exact copy of your song collection just by comparing the tracks you have with their database thus avoiding the need for uploading all your tracks to the cloud. If any songs are not found in apple's database, they are uploaded from the iDevice. It is a paid service with a cost of $24.99 per year.

    Now coming to their music player lineup, iPod Classic was not shown in their iPod lineup making way for assumptions that it got terminated. However it is still displayed in the Apple website. But chances are high that it will be discontinued soon.
    Most of the updates to other iPods are software related.  iPod Touch gets the iMessage software and also iCloud as part of iOS 5. Prices start from $199. Will be available in black and white colors starting on October 12.

    iPod nano UI gets a refresh. Grid of icons as seen in previous nano has been replaced with a linear list of big icons thereby making it easier to swipe. Fitness features got improved and 16 new clock faces have been added as an encouragement to those using nano watch kits. Prices start from $129 and is available now.

No updates were announced for iPod shuffle and price remains untouched.

You can watch the full event keynote here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Good Bye, Zune !

Microsoft will no longer be producing its portable media player, Zune. As soon as news started spreading on various tech blogs, Microsoft issued the statement:
“We have nothing to announce about another Zune device – but most recently have introduced Zune HD to Canada via Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America. We are thrilled by the consumer excitement for Zune across many new platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360. Our long-term strategy focuses on the strength of the entire Zune ecosystem across Microsoft platforms.”
confirming that it is the end of Zune hardware. However Microsoft said it will continue to provide support for all existing devices in a separate statement:
We’re not ‘killing’ any of the Zune services/features in any way. Microsoft remains committed to providing a great music and video experience from Zune on platforms such as Xbox LIVE, Windows-based PCs, Zune devices and Windows Phone 7, as well as integration with Bing and MSN.
Source: Winrumors.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Amazon Kindle Fire is $199

A dual core tablet for $199 ? yes, please. Amazon's new baby, the Kindle Fire, is a 7 inch multi touch tablet powered by a Texas Instruments OMAP4 dual core processor. It has 8GB of built-in storage and is pretty light weight at 413g. It runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread with a modified UI and comes with Amazon's own marketplace which has around 10,000 apps. It'll feature a new browser, called 'silk' which is developed by Amazon and uses its EC2 cloud engine for fast rendering of web pages. It has hit pr-order status and you can book one now from here. Owners of the new kindle would also get free storage on Amazon's cloud  (for all amazon content like ebooks, music etc from Amazon) and free one month subscription to Amazon prime, which let users stream over 10,000 popular movies.

In a letter to the customers, that is also now on Amazon's homepage Jeff Bezos the founder & CEO of Amazon writes:
There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less. Both approaches can work. We are firmly in the second camp.
obviously the comment is directed at Apple whose iPad range starts at $499. It would be interesting to see what Apple would do to take on its new competition, will they drop price ? Lets wait and see.