Archive | May, 2010

Dell to launch smartphone in India later this year

21 May

Dell, one of the world’s leading laptop and PC vendor, has announced its plans to introduce a smartphone in India later this year. According to the WSJ, Dell will introduce one smartphone in India apart from a tablet device in Europe and more smartphones in China this year. Dell, which is the world’s third largest personal computer brand by sales, is betting on Android as its platform of choice, a strategy not very different from Motorola. The PC vendor will compete with HP, which recently acquired Palm for $1.2 billion and aims to use its webOS platform for a range of smartphones, Internet tablet devices and even web-connected printers.

Wynncom launches 7 dual-SIM handsets in India at cut-throat prices

21 May

As expected, Wynncom has unveiled 7 dual-SIM mobile phones in India. The domestic vendor has launched these handsets in three different categories – utility phones with high battery performance and multiple language support; multimedia range with camera, video player, wireless radio and expandable memory and a QWERTY handset with a pre-embedded IM client and social networking apps. The company has launched these handsets between the price range of Rs 1,500 and Rs 5,000.

Check out the specs of these 7 handsets launched by Wynncom –

Wynncom Y50 – Dual-SIM, QWERTY keypad, 2.0 MP camera with flash, video recording, expndable memory up to 8 GB, 3.5 mm audio jack, FM Radio, MP3 player, EDGE, JAVA, Bluetooth, inbuilt motion sensor and Nimbuzz Messenger.

Wynncom Y30 – Dual-SIM , 2.0 MP camera, video recording, FM Radio, MP3 player, Bluetooth, GPRS and expandable memory up to 8 GB.

Wynncom Y22 – Dual-SIM , MP3 player, motion sensor, VGA camera, Bluetooth, GPRS and expandable memory up to 4 GB.

Wynncom Y21 – Dual-SIM , MP3 player, digital camera, video player and expandable memory up to 4 GB.

Wynncom Y20 – Dual-SIM, VGA camera with video recording, MP3 player, FM Radio, 3.5 mm audio jack and expandable memory up to 4GB.

Wynncom Y11 – Dual-SIM, MP3 player, video player, FM Radio, GPRS aNd expandable memory up to 4GB.

 Wynncom Y10 – Dual-SIM, audio player, FM radio with recording, video player and expandable memory up to 4GB.

Android to become an audiophile pretty soon, to compete with iTunes and Apple

21 May

Last evening’s Google I/O keynotes threw in a few pleasant surprises. Yeah, we knew what was coming up (Froyo, what else?) and also some of the new features that the new OS will bring to the table, but Google did a pretty cool job of hiding some super cool stuff. And one of them was how Android will handle music and specifically, take on Apple in the near future.


The first surprise was the inclusion of a music section in Android Market. Or in other words, a music store within Android’s application store. What’s more, users will be able to search and download songs from their desktops and those songs will automatically get downloaded on the user’s Android phone(s).


But for us, the bigger surprise was an application that would allow users to have all DRM-free songs stored on their PC available on their Android phones remotely. This has been made posssible by Google’s acquisition of a company called Simplify Media. We are not sure whether it stores all the songs in the cloud and downloads them on demand on the phone or whether the PC needs to remain functioning and connected to the Internet all the time.


Both these features are not yet available and Google says that these will be made available soon.


Android users, including us, have often cribbed about the pathetic music player onboard. Probably, this could very well be what the doctor ordered and could make Apple do some tweaking with its iTunes software on which it relies not only for music but even apps.

Tweetie returns as official Twitter app for iPhone

21 May

All those who have been using their Godphones for Tweeting away merrily have got good reason to cheer – a few weeks after Android got an official Twitter app, it is now the turn of the iPhone to get one. What’s more, it is in fact a rejigged version of one of the best Twitter apps on the app store, Tweetie. Twitter had grabbed the app (along with head developer Loren Brichter) some time ago and now has brought out a rejigged version of the app, only with the Twitter brandname stamped firmly on it.

There is lots of Twitter goodness on offer.  Apart from the good old basics of posting your tweets and following those of others, you can check out trends, the most popular tweets at the moment and who is tweeting in the vicinity, the last three without even logging in. Another feature we like is the fact that you can sign up for an account directly from the app without having to go to the website at all!

But we saved the best for last, Tweetie…errr…Twitter is FREE, unlike Tweetie which set us back by USD 2.99. Worth a download, folks, say we. It certainly is working very well indeed on our 3GS, bless it.

Google announces Android 2.2 aka Froyo, here's what you need to know

20 May

As expected, Google today announced the next version of Android – OS 2.2 – aka Froyo. The new OS brings forth five major improvements and some cool surprises in tow. So without much adieu, here’s what Froyo brings to the table.

It’s faster: Froyo now comes with a new Dalvik Just In Time Compiler or JIT that will offer two to five times performance improvement compared to Eclair or Android 2.1. For laymen, it’s simply faster when you use any application or game.

New home screen: Froyo also comes with a new home screen that has a tips widgets for new users to familiarise them with the platform. This is a thoughtful addition considering that we have seen many new users scratching their heads trying to figure out how to do even the simplests of tasks. Also new on the homescreen is a new quick launcher on the bottom to access the phone, app launcher or browser. This quick launcher will be accessible on all five home screens. Nothing ground breaking over here, yet very thoughtful additions.

Improved Exchange support: Yeah, we can see many of you suited-booted kinds getting excited now. Well, Froyo brings better Exchange support with the ability to sync calendars, global address lists while sending e-mails, remote wipe and in general, improved security with regards to passwords. It will also automatically discover your acounts settings and you only need to know your user name and password. (This last feature is available for Exchange 2007 and higher.)

Camera and Gallery: The camera has a new UI for onscreen buttons for controling zoom, flash, white balance, geo-tagging, focus and exposure. Camcorder also provides an easy way to set video size/quality for MMS and YouTube. Now, LED flash has been enabled for video recording.

Portable Hotspot: Yup, you can now tether your phone to a PC or convert the phone’s data service into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Improved browser performance: The Froyo browser is two-three times faster than the Eclair (Android 2.1 browser). In fact, Google is calling it the fastest mobile browser in the world and demonstrated how fast it is compared to the Apple iPad.

The browser will also support HTML5 and comes with support for orientation, speech and camera. So if you are on Google Maps on the browser, you would be able to navigate by changing the orientation of the phone. With speech support you’d be able to search Google by voice directly from the browser and with camera, click pictures and update them on buzz without ever leaving the camera. This would work with other web apps that use HTML5 standards. Google is betting big on webapps, and think that with HTML5, they will be bigger than native apps. Perhaps, they forgot to tell that to Apple.

Improved app management: You will be able to move apps to SD card without any noticable performance lag. What’s more, you can even set certain apps to auto-update on their own and the rest you can update all at one go. Searching for apps has been simplified with a home screen search widget, which is very similar to how Apple does on the iPhone. Also, app developers will be able to retain user’s data stored on apps when users change their device.

Bluetooth improvements: Lot of people have complained about Bluetooth performance on Android devices. Well, Froyo will enable voice dialling over Bluetooth, transferring contacts over Bluetooth and better support with Bluetooth accessories.

Adobe Flash 10.1 support: The preceding words say it all, need we elaborate?

And finally, a video of Froyo!

So when will 3G eventually come to India?

20 May

The auction of 3G spectrum is now over and you are already dreaming about lightning fast browsing speeds, video streaming and even video calling on your phone, right? Well, hold your horses, lest you want to taste disappointment as 3G services won’t be launched anytime sooner than the last quarter of 2010!

All that has happened so far is the spectrum auction. Carriers have not yet paid for the spectrum that they have won. They have 10 days to make the entire payment but still they will receive spectrum only in September, which is the time the government hopes that it will be able to vacate paired 3G spectrum for the winners.

Even if we assume that these carriers get 3G spectrum in September, they will have to build and roll-out their networks to enable the 3G network, which could take anywhere between three to six months. Given the many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, it is very unlikely for us, the consumers, to be able to experience 3G anytime before the end of 2010 and probably even early 2011.

Versace announces world’s first luxury touchscreen phone – the Versace Unique

20 May

We know exactly what you’re wondering after looking at this picture at the left. The sexy device in question is the Versace Unique, the world’s first luxury touchscreen phone by Versace, created in collaboration with ModeLabs Group. While the former is a world-renowned luxury fashion brand, the latter is a company that designs and markets tailor-made handsets. ModeLabs has done the design-execution part for Versace Unique whereas its partner LG has taken care of the UI and the technology part.

The frame of this sturdy handheld is made from pure ceramic and handmade lacquers. The edges are either given an 18K gold finish or 316L grade stainless steel inlay. The touchcreen display is scratch-resistant, smooth and receptive because of the sapphire crystal screen. On the back, the logo of Versace, the Medusa head is carefully embossed on the handcrafted leather.

We believe even the tech-specs aren’t that disappointing considering the fact that most of the luxury phones lack on the feature front. Versace Unique is 3G-enabled, features a media player, a 5.0 MP camera, an MP3 player with Dolby Mobile surround sound technology. Users can also watch video at a stretch for a period of 30 hours.

The Versace Unique will be available in Versace’s flagship stores in early June. Still thinking about the price? Dude, you know there’s always a common tag-line attached to most of the luxury products that says – “price on request!”

Wynncom to launch 7 phones in India tomorrow

20 May

Wynncom, the latest Indian brand to sell phones in India, will be launching its first seven phones in India tomorrow. A part of the SAR Group – the makers of Luminous brand of batteries, invertors and power backup solutions – Wyncomm plans to become one of the top three Indian handset brands (think of Micromax, Spice and Karbonn) within the next 12 months. I had an opportunity to interact with the company’s co-founder and managing director, Arvind R Vohra, to understand how they intend to make it big in the already cluttered market. Some excerpts from my interaction.

 

On too many handset brands with similar products: Yes, there are many domestic brands out there but if you see closely, there are only a handful of them that can be categorised as serious players. Wynncom is a committed player and we have made significant investments in the project. We have already roped in over 300 micro-distributors across the country and our phones will be available everywhere from day one. We also have a chain of 300 service centres under World Ace, a group company. Many of the existing ‘brands’ don’t even have a single service centre.

We want to ensure that our customers get the best possible experience. As far as phones go, there is no really differentiation out there. Hardware is more or less the same across brands when it comes to phones in the Rs 1,500-Rs 5,000 price segment. The real differentiation is how you make them available across the country and back it by a wide chain of service centres.

 

On investments and targets: We have earmarked Rs 100 crore for 2010-11 financial year and Rs 400 crore for 2011-12 financial year. We already have over 400 employees, which again shows that we are very serious about this venture. Thanks to Luminous, we already have vast experience of sourcing and manufacturing products in China. We also understand the Indian market better.

As far as targets are concerned, we want to be one of the top three Indian cellphone brands in the next 12 months. We also want to go outside India, in 36 markets where Luminous is present, by 2012.

 

On after-sales service: We realise that after-sales service is very crucial. That’s why we have our own chain of service centres. The plan is that eventually these centres will also service phones from other brands.

 

On target audience: The buying decision is essentially driven by youth and that’s why we have roped in Saif Ali Khan as our brand ambassador. As far as markets are concerned, we are targeting the entire country. Even metros like Delhi have a huge migrant population, which could be our audience. We will bring good quality products that people will like to buy.

Who will offer 3G services in your neighbourhood?

19 May

Now that the 3G spectrum auction has been done and dusted with, the big question is whether your existing carrier will provide 3G services in your neighbourhood or not. Fret not, we have made it easier for you to figure that out. Now keep your fingers crossed as you go through this table and hope that your carrier’s name is along the name of the state that you live in. If it isn’t there, pray that Mobile Number Portability kicks in before 3G services begin.

Circle 3G Carriers present
Delhi Airtel, RCom and Vodafone
Mumbai Airtel, RCom and Vodafone
Maharashtra Idea, Tata Teleservices and Vodafone
Gujarat Idea, Tata Teleservices and Vodafone
Andhra Pradesh Aircel, Airtel and Idea
Karnataka Aircel, Airtel and Tata Teleservices
Tamil Nadu Aircel, Airtel and Vodafone
Kolkata Aircel, RCom and Vodafone
Kerala Aircel, Idea and Tata Teleservices
Punjab Aircel, Idea, RCom and Tata Teleservices
Haryana Idea, Tata Teleservices and Vodafone
Uttar Pradesh (East) Aircel, Idea and Vodafone
Uttar Pradesh (West) Airtel, Idea and Tata Teleservices
Rajasthan Airtel, RCom and Tata Teleservices
Madhya Pradesh Idea, RCom and Tata Teleservices
West Bengal Aircel, Airtel, RCom and Vodafone
Himachal Pradesh Airtel, Idea, RCom and STel
Bihar Aircel, Airtel, RCom and STel
Orissa Aircel, RCom and STel
Assam Airtel, Aircel and RCom
North East Aircel, Airtel and RCom
Jammu & Kashmir Aircel, Airtel, Idea and RCom

You can Touch This! Atmel's in the House

19 May

In 1990, “You can’t touch this,” was a chart beating song by Oakland, California based rapper MC Hammer.

The first five lines of the song are:

You can’t touch this
You can’t touch this
You can’t touch this
You can’t touch this
You can’t touch this



No, MC. You, CAN Touch this.

What did MC know?

About 13 years after this tune was the rage of the globe,  in 2003, Handspring (acquired by Palm)  launched the first successful touch based smartphone – the Treo 300. The ground braking device and its descendants were based on “resistive touch” technology. It was only four short years later that Apple launched its iPhone with newer and more responsive “capacitive touch” screen. A little more than a year ago for our print edition, I wrote an overview of touch technology and rightly called Synaptics Inc – the “arms merchant” of touch suppliers. However, Synaptics started to loose its “arms merchant” status a few months later. In June 2009, Cypress established its legitimacy as a touch supplier when its touch products were included in the Palm Pre (I plan to make an updated post on the touch screen industry on a later date).

Late last year, Atmel achieved tremendous momentum in the capacitive touch as its touch products were designed into the extremely successful Motorola Droid. In fact, we can confirm that Atmel’s maXTouch technology is going to be part of the much anticipated HTC EVO 4G on Sprint. Atmel like its chief competitors Cypress Semiconductor and Synaptics is working on bringing touch screen technology to not only phones, but also netbooks, laptops, desktop monitors, televisions and automobile and industrial applications.

Today, Atmel has announced that its maXTouch family can support touch screens up to 15 inches. According to Binay Bajaj, Senior Marketing Manager, Atmel, some of the key differentiators of its maXTouch offerings are:

  • 15 touches on one screen. Binay Bajaj, modestly mentions that “Atmel is limiting the number of touches.”
  • 2x-3x faster response time than competition
  • Unintended touch rejection (palm, cheek rejection)
  • Enable glove operation
  • Stylus operation
  • Low power solution. A big plus – given battery power is limited



I got a chance to play with a prototype and I must admit that I got envious as the touch screen responded to all five fingers as opposed to one finger on the iPhone and the iPad.

Atmel’s touch offerings along with those from Cypress Semiconductor and Synaptics will enable phone manufacturers like Nokia, LG, HTC, Motorola, Samsung to not only choose from multiple touch technologies but also  pass lower pricing to consumers.

PS- If this post inspired you to create a “You can touch this” rap or jingle, e-mail me your production. We will post the two best submissions.