Thursday, October 18, 2012

Apple sends invite for 'iPad mini launch

Apple has sent out invites for an event next Tuesday, where it's expected to announce the release of a smaller iPad.

The invite, sent to reporters Tuesday, doesn't hint at what will be revealed, beyond saying that "We've got a little more to show you." The event will be held in San Jose, California.

Media and analysts have said for months that Apple has an " iPad mini" in the works. The tablet is thought to be about half the size of the regular iPad and to start at $249 or $299. The regular iPad starts at $499 for the most recent models.

Apple founder Steve Jobs derided the idea of a smaller tablet two years ago, but has had some success with its Kindle Fire, which is about half the size of the iPad and starts at $159. Analysts believe Apple wants to tackle that competition with its own similarly sized tablet.

Reports suggest that the smaller iPad would have a screen that's 7.8 inches on the diagonal, a bit more than the Kindle Fire or Google's Nexus, with their 7-inch screens. The full-size iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, giving it about twice the display area as the 7-inch units.

Apple typically starts selling a new phone or iPad a week or two after announcing it. But it could treat the new iPad as a minor product update, in which case it could start selling it right after the announcement.

Apple shares rose $14.02, or 2.2 per cent, to $648.78 in midday trading Tuesday. The shares are off their all-time high of $705.07, hit September 21 when the iPhone 5 went on sale in stores.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

QR Code-based app to scan and pay for goods 

Sainsbury's supermarket is testing a new app that allows shoppers to use their mobile phone to scan and pay for your goods without having to unload your trolley.

The new Scan 'n' Go app is being tested at stores in Tadley, Hants, Clerkenwell in central London and Bethnal Green, East London.

It allows users to bag their shopping up as they walk around the store and pay for them at a self-checkout counter without having to unload, the Daily Mail reported.

The innovative programme even directs customers around the store according to the items on their shopping list potentially saving even more time.

The customer logs in by scanning a Quick Response (QR) code, when they arrive.

They then scan the QR codes on packaging or on the shelf next to the price information.

Loose items like fruit and vegetables are weighed on scales, and a QR code is printed out which can be scanned by the app.

A learning function monitors spending habits and flashes up special offers depending on the shopper's whereabouts in the store.

Critics suggest the system will enable supermarkets to cut back on staff and effectively spy on their customers by monitoring their spending habits.

But Sainbury's describes the system as a third option and insist they are not planning to phase out manned or self-service tills.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Samsung launching Galaxy S III Mini on Oct 11?

Samsung Germany has sent invites for an upcoming device being launched on October 11, 2012. The invite says "So big can be small and so small can be big" and "Get ready for a little sensation" in German, with the characteristic 'S' of its flagship Galaxy S series in the background.

This hints that the South Korean manufacturer will probably launch a small device at the event. Speculation is rife that the company will roll out a smaller version of its current flagship, the Galaxy S III, currently being called the Galaxy S III Mini. Rumours say that the smartphone will be powered by Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with Samsung's TouchWiz UI and will feature a 4-inch touchscreen and a dual-core processor.

If such a phone is, in fact, launched, it will be a decent alternative for those who want a smartphone with a 4-inch screen (same as the new iPhone 5). Considering that Samsung's current 4-inch Android smartphone, the Galaxy S Advance, has not been updated to Ice Cream Sandwich, it is possible that the Galaxy S III Mini will take its place, though there is no confirmation yet.

The Samsung event follows the launch of iPhone 5 and the device to be launched there is expected to go on sale before the beginning of the holiday season. This strategy will help the company lap up sales during the crucial holiday season.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gets $70 million pay package

New Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer's compensation package could total more than $70 million in salary, bonuses, restricted stock and stock options over five years, according to a regulatory filing made by the company Thursday.

Mayer's pay package is made up of $1 million in annual salary, as much as $2 million in an annual bonus, and $42 million in stock options and other awards, as well as $14 million in "make whole restricted options" for forfeiture of compensation from Google.

Also, by including some stock grants, Mayer could earn up to a total of $20 million a year, or up to $100 million over five years, a Yahoo spokeswoman told Reuters.

As the first female Google engineer and one of its earliest employees, Mayer's net worth is already estimated to be as much as $300 million.

Yahoo's hiring of Mayer as CEO from Google earlier this week caught analysts and investors by surprise. Mayer, 37, edged out presumed front-runner and acting CEO Ross Levinsohn to become Yahoo's third CEO in a year.

Industry observers believe Mayer's selection over Levinsohn is a signal that Yahoo is likely to renew its focus on Web technology and products rather than beefing up online content.

Her appointment caps a tumultuous year at Yahoo. In May, Scott Thompson resigned as CEO after less than 6 months in the job after a controversy over his academic credentials. Thompson replaced the controversial Carol Bartz, who was fired in September after failing to revitalize Yahoo.

Thompson's total compensation at hire was valued at $27 million. He got no severance but was able to keep the $7 million in compensation he got for leaving Paypal. Bartz got more than $10 million in severance when she was fired last year.

New broom
A self-described "geek" with a master's degree in computer science from Stanford, Mayer started as CEO on Tuesday, the same day Yahoo announced weak financial results, with flat net revenue and a slight decline in second-quarter profit.

Although she was on the company's sprawling Sunnyvale, Calif, campus, she did not participate in its earnings call. Levinsohn was also absent from the call, which was led by Yahoo's Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse.

Mayer joins Yahoo as something of a celebrity, having already established herself as one of Silicon Valley's leading women, both inside and outside of the office. She is known for her love of fashion and regularly appears on the society pages for hosting parties.

In 2009 she married real estate investor Zachary Bogue --Mayer tweeted that the couple expects their first child, a boy, in October.

Despite its leadership upheaval, Yahoo remains one of the world's most popular websites, with more than 700 million monthly visitors, according to the company.

But revenue growth has stalled amid an industry wide decline in online display advertising prices and competition from Facebook and Google.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Samsung allowed to sell Galaxy Tab in US after court lifts ban

A US court removed a temporary sales ban against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Galaxy Tab 10.1 won by Apple Inc in a patent dispute, allowing the South Korean company to sell the product in the United States.

While the Galaxy 10.1 is an older model, the lifting of the ban could still help Samsung in the run-up to the pivotal holiday shopping season.

"We are pleased with the court's action today, which vindicates our position that there was no infringement of Apple's design patent and that an injunction was not called for," Samsung said in a statement.

Separately, Samsung filed a motion against Apple saying the iPhone 5 had infringed on some of the company's patents.

The world's top two smartphone makers are locked in patent disputes in 10 countries as they vie to dominate the lucrative market.

The legal fight began last year when Apple sued Samsung in multiple countries, and Samsung countersued.

The injunction on the Galaxy tablet had been put in place ahead of a month-long trial that pitted the iPhone maker against Samsung in a closely watched legal battle that ended in August with a victory for Apple on many of its patent violation claims.

However, the jury found that Samsung had not violated the patent that was the basis for the tablet injunction and Samsung argued the sales ban should be lifted.

The sole basis for the preliminary injunction no longer exists since the jury found that Samsung's Galaxy Tab had not violated Apple's D'889 patent.

"The court does not agree with Apple that Samsung's motion for dissolution of the June 26 preliminary injunction cannot be fairly decided without resolving Apple's post-trial motions," Judge Lucy Koh said in her ruling.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment outside regular US business hours.

The case in US District Court, Northern District of California, is Apple Inc v. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd et al, No. 11-1846.

Monday, October 1, 2012

New sleeker PlayStation 3 makes debut

Sleek new PlayStation 3 consoles took their places in US homes on Thursday as Sony tapped into its video game prowess to put itself at the heart of internet age entertainment.

The PS3 model that made its US debut was slimmed to be stylishly unobtrusive but featured a beefy 250-gigabyte hard drive to store more films, music, games and other digital content.

A version with a 500-gigabyte hard drive will hit the US market on Sunday. The models are priced at $249 and $299.

The 500-gigabyte PS3 will be released in Europe on Friday with a price tag of 299 euros ($386). A version of the console based on Flash memory was set for an exclusive debut there on October 12 for 229 euros.

"While we certainly use gaming as our foundation, the PS3 is a complete entertainment center in the living room," John Koller of the PlayStation hardware team told AFP.

"We added higher hard drive space because consumers have become much more digitally inclined; it is a significant area for all of us in the industry."

Memory capacity for consoles has become increasingly important to users as lifestyles shift to downloading games, films and other digital content from the internet.

Sony has ramped up its PlayStation Network online service for games, movies and music and made free games available for PlayStation Plus members.

More than 4,000 games have become available for download for PS3 since the console was launched in November of 2006, according to Sony.

Sony completely redesigned console innards, reducing volume and weight.

"It is certainly a cleaner, sleeker model that takes up less space and looks cool," said National Alliance video game industry analyst Mike Hickey.

However, he noted, powerful and pretty new PS3 models might have to come with a price cut to lure a significant number of new users to PS3 this late in the life cycle of the console.

Sony spiced up the PS3 package here by adding a "game of the year" edition of hit title "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception" and digital content for massive online multiplayer science fiction shooter game "Dust 514."

Sony chief Kazuo Hirai has a long history with the company that includes helping PlayStation consoles become a hit in the United States.

Hirai has put in motion a strategy to revitalise the financially battered company by combining strengths of its film, music, game, hardware, and distribution arms.

"Kaz basically made his career from PlayStation and the success of that brand," Hickey said.

"Strategically, it appears to be very important," the analyst continued. "Games are a great way to orchestrate leading technology in televisions, phones and other areas."

Hot trends include people playing games and enjoying digital music, films or television shows across an array of devices including smartphones, tablets, consoles and computers.

Sony could benefit because it makes an array of devices on which content is consumed and has a PlayStation Network for distribution.

"The console plays a significant role in bringing those pieces together," Koller said. "We start with the people who come in first for the games and then progress to other elements like video streaming, music, and renting content."

"Gaming consumers are in many ways holding up lots of parts of the entertainment world."

Koller said the "developer spigot stays hot" for new, immersive titles for play on the PS3.

Sony faces tough competition from Microsoft's Xbox consoles in the battle to be the heart of home entertainment.

"Once you start to catalogue a library of content you have an anchor in someone's personal technology ecosystem," Hickey said.

"You get a new TV; you get a new camera... but it is hard to replace two cycles of playing 'Modern Warfare,'" he continued, referring to a blockbuster military video game. "Where you store your pictures or movies or songs is important."

Hickey expected Sony to unveil a next-generation PlayStation console next year.

Rovio’s Bad Piggies

Rovio, the game developer that created Angry Birds, is back with a new game. And this one stars the pigs — yes, the green smuggy foes of the angry birds — in the primary role. Rovio's last game, Amazing Alex, didn't really strike a chord with the gamers. It was not really a bad game but the gameplay relied too much on solving puzzle at the expense of fun. This is never a good thing.

With Bad Piggies, Rovio is returning back to its roots. Yes, there are puzzles in this game and it is significantly different than any Angry Birds game even if the familiar pigs are part of it. But still it is a game rooted in Angry Birds universe. The question is — Does it fly?

We find out...

Music, visuals and story
Story first. We all know that how the pigs salivate at the thought of eggs. They just can't keep themselves away from these eggs, even if it means going to war with the birds.

In Bad Piggies, the greedy green creatures are on an island. As usual they are after eggs. But to reach eggs, the pigs have to build various machines that allow them to pass obstacles or fly so that they can reach places high up on cliffs. This is where you, the player, come in. your job is to build the ultimate flying machine for the pigs from various parts that are available in the game.

Petri Jarvilehto, a senior executive with Rovio puts it like this: "Where Angry Birds was all about destruction, Bad Piggies is all about the joy of construction."

Bad Piggies is a pretty game. Given that it is set in a tropical island, there is lots of green foliage. If you have played any recent Angry Birds game, the visuals in Bad Piggies will make you feel at home. The visual style is same and the backgrounds are as detailed as Rovio makes them. However, the environment is not as destructible as it is in the Angry Birds games. The accompanying music is very good and compliments the gameplay very well.

Rovio set a very high benchmark with Angry Birds. It is a game easy to play and yet complex enough to challenge best players. It is casual and yet fun.

Bad Piggies aims to recreate the same magic, though with a different kind of gameplay. The puzzles in Bad Piggies are slightly more complex compared to those in Angry Birds. The task is to create good machines that pigs can use and to do that players have to carefully think about the role and placement of various items like a box, balloons, TNT and rockets etc. This is a little more difficult than flinging birds from a slingshot.

Another way in which the gameplay has changed is the way points are awarded. In Bad Piggies there is nothing to destruct. Instead the goal is to collect items. If you collect all the available items, you get three stars and if you complete the objective without collecting optional items, you get one star.

Bad Piggies is a lot of fun once you get the hang of tools and components available to you. But at the same time it is not Angry Birds. Primarily, there is one reason why many casual gamers who love Angry Birds may not like Bad Piggies. It is the nature of the game. Whether it is a good thing or bad, the truth is that as human beings we have more fun when we destroy things. Building things is a little tedious.

Angry Birds appeal to many of us because the objective is to flatten the fortification put up by the pigs! Smashing through the wooden planks, putting the black bird in between two stone pillars and killing the hidden pigs with a boom is immensely gratifying. Building flying machines has its own charm but it may not appeal to all.

Also, we did not like the new point system. Unlike the arcade-style point system in Angry Birds, where even destroying a flower yielded 50 or 100 points, in Bad Piggies all you get are stars. The arcade appeal is not there.

If you love playing casual games on your smartphone or tablet, you will likely spend hours with Bad Piggies. It's an enjoyable game, especially once you have crossed a few levels and are familiar with the way things work. Just don't expect it to be Angry Birds.

Available on...
iOS devices ( iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad), Android phones and tablets, Mac, and PC.

PC: $4.95
Mac: $4.99
iOS: $0.99 or $2.99 for HD version
Android: Free (ad-supported)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Apple loses patent case vs Samsung, Motorola

A German court has dismissed Apple's claim that Samsung Electronics and Google's Motorola Mobility infringed patents used in touchscreen devices.

The Mannheim state court's ruling Friday follows similar decisions in Britain and the Netherlands.

The ruling can be appealed within 30 days.

Apple and its rivals are locked in a complex worldwide battle over patents and design rights covering the lucrative market for smartphones and tablet computers.

Last month a US court ruled that Samsung phones and tablets infringe on Apple patents, and awarded the Cupertino, California, company $1.05 billion.

Meanwhile, Samsung is seeking royalties from Apple for sales of iPhones it says infringe on its patents.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spice Mobile fined Rs 18k for not repairing cellphone

Spice Mobile has been asked by a consumer forum here to pay Rs 18,000 to a doctor for not fixing or returning her cell phone which she had given to the company's service centre for repair.

The South West District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum directed the mobile phone manufacturer as well as its service centre to jointly pay the amount after finding them guilty of deficiency in service, relying on the affidavit of the Haryana-based doctor.

"We find no reason to disbelieve her sworn testimony and hence come to the irresistible conclusion that opposite party 2 (Spice Mobile) being the principal and opposite party 3 (Spice Service Centre) being agent are guilty of deficiency in service for not replying to her legal notice, nor repairing the handset or returning the same despite it being received on September 20, 2010 by the service centre.

"We, therefore, allow the complaint and direct opposite party 2 and 3 either to jointly or severally pay complainant (Dr Asha Sharma) the price of the mobile handset amounting to Rs 5,000. They shall also pay her Rs 10,000 for mental and physical harassment and for alleged loss of data stored in the handset, along with cost of litigation of Rs 3,000," the bench presided by Narendra Kumar said.

Dr Asha Sharma, in her complaint had said that she had bought a Spice mobile for Rs 5,000 on June 4, 2010.

The handset had developed several faults, including hanging, stopping automatically while charging, and later it stopped functioning altogether, she had alleged.

She had deposited the handset with the service centre for repair on September 20, 2010 but it failed to return the mobile, she had alleged adding that she then issued a legal notice asking for refund of the phone's price, notice fee, compensation and litigation cost.

However, she had received no reply to the notice sent to the opposite parties, she had alleged.

In its affidavit, Spice Mobile denied the doctor's allegation that there was deficiency on its or its service centre's part.

Haryana to set up medical college named after Kalpana Chawla

 A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Haryana government and Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation (India) Limited for setting setting up a Rs 400 crore medical college at Karnal named after late astronaut Kalpana Chawla.

Director General (Medical Education) Mahender Kumar signed the MoU with HSCC senior manager Narender Kumar under which the project would be completed in 25 months, an official release said.

The foundation stone of this project would be laid by Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on November 19.

The college would have 100 MBBS seats and a 500-bed hospital with state-of-the-art facilities for teaching, training and patient care, it added.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

'Technology killed face-to-face conversation'

Technology has killed the art of conversation among office workers, according to a new poll.

Almost 70 per cent of the people quizzed said they preferred to call or email a colleague rather than having a face-to-face conversation with them, even if they were in the same building.

Some workers said they purposely avoided meeting directly as they wanted to keep their distance from colleagues or clients to avoid awkward questions and also reduce chances of being forced to take on more work.

Under a third of those polled said they preferred face-to-face conversations to solve dilemmas.

This group believed that chatting with someone directly was the quickest way to sort out a range of issues.

However, more than half of respondents said that they felt less confident talking with people in person because they had become so reliant on using email, phones and online services such as Skype.

The poll of 600 people found that email was the most popular method of communication among office staff because of the ability to keep a written record, but almost all said they believed it was important to "put a face" to an email address because it helped forge long-term working relationships.

"Technological advances have revolutionised the speed at which we are able to communicate and the amount of information we are able to share in a short period, which can only be viewed as a good thing for employees and employers alike," the Daily Express quoted a spokesman for office space website, which carried out the poll, as saying.

"However, what our survey has revealed is that many workers have become so comfortable sending emails, they have lost the ability to communicate as effectively in person and, as such, avoid doing so where possible.

"Being asked awkward questions or being cornered into taking on new tasks were two of the main reasons cited as to why many workers preferred to keep their distance from colleagues and clients, using email as a barrier to these issues.

"Many viewed the phone as a compromise as they were able to keep their distance from the person they were speaking to but could openly discuss issues and let the conversation flow," the spokesperson added.

Orkut user base falls 86% in one year

Once the darling of India's social media crowd, Google's Orkut has seen the numbers of its daily visitors dwindle nearly 86% over the last year, suggesting that it might soon be on its last legs.

Orkut, which was Google's first foray into social media, has its second-largest user base in India after Brazil. But the number of daily visitors from India has fallen from about 14 lakh a year ago to just about two lakh now, according to Google Trends.

Most social media junkies in India, which has over 120 million internet users, have moved on to rival Facebook, professional networking site LinkedIn and micro-blogging site Twitter. Also choking Orkut is Google Plus, the internet search company's fresh attempt to wean users away from Facebook.

But Google said it will continue to invest in Orkut. "Orkut has a large user base, especially in Brazil and India, and we will continue to invest in the product," a Google India spokeswoman said in an email response to ET. She said Orkut and Google Plus are different products and that both will exist.

"Users shifted from Orkut to other networks because of its closed platform approach-a contrast to Facebook which opened itself up to apps and businesses" said Yogesh Bansal, founder of, a home-grown social network that boasts about three million users. "The shift of western world to Facebook clearly led to a change in Indian user's habits," said Bansal who moved to Facebook after getting 'friend requests' from relatives in the United States and Canada.

India now accounts for about 20% of Orkut's users. Over the past three years, Orkut has seen its position as the top social media website in India slip. It is now third-Facebook has over 52 million unique visitors every month, LinkedIn eight million and Orkut about four million. Microblogging site Twitter comes next with slightly lower 3.8 million users, according to internet data research firm Comscore.

"Clearly, Google has chosen not to invest too much time, effort or resources into Orkut because all their efforts for social are now fully focused fully on Google Plus," said Adhvith Dhuddu, founder & CEO at AliveNow, a Bangalore-based social media firm. "My guess is that Google will just let Orkut be what it is."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

End for Nokia if new Lumia phones fail: Analysts

Microsoft and Nokia are loading up for their best -- and possibly last -- shot at denting a smartphone market dominated by Apple's iPhone and Google's Android mobile software.

If the new Lumia phones do not appeal to consumers when they are unveiled next Wednesday, it could mean the end for Nokia, and a serious blow to Microsoft's attempts to regain its footing in the mobile market, analysts and investors said.

"This is very high stakes," said Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley. "Nokia bet everything on Windows, and if this doesn't succeed the next step might be having to do what's best for shareholders, and that might include selling off key assets or selling the whole company."

The Finnish handset maker has logged more than 3 billion euros in operating losses in the last 18 months, forcing it to cut 10,000 jobs and pursue asset sales.

Its share of the global smartphone market has plunged to less than 10 percent from 50 percent during its heyday before the iPhone was launched in 2007.

For Microsoft, a successful Lumia launch would convince more handset makers and carriers to support its latest phone software, which is based on the same code as the upcoming Windows 8 computing system, and promises faster performance and a customizable start screen.

Windows phones have only captured 3.7 per cent of the global smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics. Android phones have 68 per cent, while Apple has 17 per cent.

The new Lumia phones will hit the market just as the world of Android reels from a potentially crushing legal blow, and as Research In Motion's BlackBerry continues its decline.

A California jury decided last week that some of Samsung Electronics's hot-selling Android smartphones copied features of the iPhone, which may result in import bans and drive handset makers to put more resources into making Windows-based phones.

The judgment opens a window for Microsoft to exploit -- but it first needs to find favor with consumers.

"Windows Phone really is going to have to stand or fall on its own, it's going to have to appeal to consumers," said Jack Gold, an independent mobile analyst who runs consultancy J Gold Associates.

Good timings
Nokia is expected to launch two new Lumia phones on September 5, on the same day that phone maker Motorola, now owned by Google, also unveils a new product.

It kicks off a busy fortnight for mobile devices, with expected to introduce new Kindle tablets on September 6. Apple is seen unveiling the newest iPhone on September 12.

The costlier of the two Lumias will go up against the iPhone, and is expected to feature a larger, brighter screen; a powerful camera on both sides; Qualcomm Inc dual-core chips; Skype calling; voice recognition; short-range radio technology for wireless payments and built-in maps for navigation.

But Lumia will need something completely different to beat the iPhone and Android, such as a bold new shape, exceptional camera quality or a mini-projector, said Tero Kuittinen, an analyst at mobile diagnostics company Alekstra.

Part of the problem is that Windows Phones have only 100,000 or so apps, compared with about 500,000 for Android or iPhones.

"Developers want to see more devices, and people want to buy only when they see more apps," said Sid Parakh, an analyst at fund firm McAdams Wright Ragen. "I'd say it will take years, they are so far behind."

Nokia may not have years. Finland's most famous company, relegated to second place in the global cellphone market by Samsung after more than a decade at the top, has bet its smartphone future on Microsoft.

Samsung stole some of Nokia's limelight by being the first to unveil a phone based on Windows Phone 8 software on Wednesday, a week before Nokia's event. Canaccord's Walkley expects Samsung to offer steep price discounts for Windows phones in markets where Nokia is also launching its phones.

While Samsung, HTC and Huawei Technologies are also making phones based on the new Windows software, only Nokia is focused entirely on Windows Phone 8. This means that Nokia should be able to deliver more sophisticated Windows phones.

Support from carriers
The job of saving Nokia, and getting the new Windows Phone 8 software off to a strong start, falls to Nokia Chief Executive Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft star who forged the agreement between the two companies.

One thing Elop has in his ammunition bag is support from big US mobile service providers who want see Windows become a third strong smartphone platform to counterbalance the market heft of Android and Apple, which charges a heavy price premium.

Top US wireless providers Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA have all said they will support Windows Phone 8, and AT&T Inc said it will sell Nokia phones based on the Microsoft software.

"Everybody's liking what they see coming from Microsoft with the Windows 8 (mobile) platform from the user experience perspective and the integration perspective," said Bill Versen, a Verizon Wireless executive who works with business customers on their smartphone strategies.

"Enterprises have Windows-based platforms they're using for their businesses. They've been waiting for Microsoft to mobilize that in a user-accepted way," he added.

Because Microsoft's new phone software is similar to the upcoming Windows 8 desktop and tablet software - to be released on October 26 - developers can more easily write apps for both, which should help the platform's popularity and may even lead developers to eventually build apps for Windows before Android, Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said.

Microsoft actually makes more money from royalties on Android products than it does on sales of its own phone software, but "can't afford not to have a significant position in the global smartphone market," said CCS Insight analyst John Jackson.

Microsoft needs to get at least a 10 per cent share of the smartphone market by the end of 2013 to be a contender, Canaccord's Walkley added.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Motorola likely to pull out of India

 Motorola Mobility may shut down its business in India as part of the massive global restructuring that the company has planned. BGR India, a technology blog, reported the company didn't plan to bring additional stock of its phones and had put up an R&D center in Hyderabad for sale.

When contacted William Moss, director of communications for Asia-Pacific at Motorola, confirmed the restructuring plan. However, he stopped short of saying the company would no longer do business in India.

"Motorola Mobility is reducing its headcount by approximately 4,000 globally, and two-thirds of this reduction will occur outside US. We also plan to close or consolidate about one-third of our 90 facilities globally," he told TOI in an email. "India is affected by this global restructuring, but we do continue to have substantial operations there."

Moss added the restructuring plan is bound to lead to job cuts in the affected countries. "We understand how hard these changes will be for the employees concerned. We are committed to helping them through this difficult transition and will be providing generous severance packages, as well as outplacement services to help people find new jobs," he said.

Motorola Mobility, which has fallen behind Apple and Samsung in the crucial smartphone market, was bought by Google last year for around $12.5 billion. The deal was completed this year and a restructuring of the company and its operations was expected. As soon as the deal completed in May this year, Google replaced Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha with Dennis Woodside, a Google executive, who played a key role in events leading to the closure of the deal.

Moss said the company would now focus on fewer phones and simplify its business. "We will simplify our mobile product portfolio -- shifting the emphasis from feature phones to more innovative and profitable devices. We expect this strategy to create new opportunities and help return our mobile devices unit to profitability," he said.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Samsung loses $12 bn in stock market after Apple's win

 Samsung Electronics' shares tumbled around 7 percent on Monday, wiping $12 billion off the South Korean giant's market value, as a sweeping victory for Apple in a US patent lawsuit raised concerns about its smartphone business - its biggest cash cow.

Samsung, which says it will contest the verdict, was ordered to pay $1.05 billion in damages after a California jury found it had copied critical features of the hugely popular iPhone and iPad and could face an outright sales ban on key products.

"There are still too many variables including the final ruling to come at least a month from the recent verdict, and whether there will be a sales ban on Samsung's main sellers such as the Galaxy S III," said a fund manager at a Korean asset management company that was one of the biggest institutional holders of Samsung's stock as of end-March.

Shares in Samsung - the world's biggest technology firm by revenue - tumbled as much as 7.7 percent, its biggest daily percentage drop in nearly four years, to 1.177 million Korean won ($1,000), versus a 0.2 percent drop in the broader market.

Trading volume was heavy, more than doubling last week's daily average by early Monday trade.

In the most closely watched patent trial in years, the jury at a federal court in San Jose, California, just miles from Apple's headquarters, found that Samsung infringed on six of seven Apple patents.

The verdict, which surprised many analysts with its speed - coming after less than three days of deliberations - and the extent of Apple's victory, will likely solidify the US firm's dominance of the exploding mobile computing market.

Apple's triumph was also seen as a blow to Google, whose Android software powers the Samsung products that were found to infringe on Apple patents.

Analysts estimate Samsung's earnings will be reduced by 4 percent this year due to increased patent-related provisioning.

"Samsung should be OK - it means a 4-5 percent hit to the bottom line," said a Hong Kong-based hedge fund manager who declined to be identified.

"Both companies are in the midst of a squabble but I don't think it's a structural negative for Samsung. At the end of the day, as Forbes reported recently, Samsung has 65,000 patents versus 9,000 for Apple. Furthermore, Apple relies on Samsung for the processing brains of their phones. I sold Samsung four months ago but am watching the stock closely now."

The court case had weighed on Samsung's stock in the week leading up to Friday's verdict, but even after Monday's slide it remains up around 75 percent over the last 12 months, during which time galloping smartphone sales have powered record profits.

Eyes on Galaxy S III

Apple plans to file for a sales injunction against Samsung, its lawyers said, and the judge in the case set a hearing date for September 20. Samsung, in turn, said the verdict "is not the final word in this case."

Top executives at Samsung, led by vice chairman Choi Gee-sung and head of its mobile division JK Shin, held an emergency meeting on Sunday.

The biggest concern for Samsung remains whether its latest flagship product the Galaxy S III, which was not included in the case, will also be targeted by Apple. The model is Samsung's best selling smartphone, with sales topping 10 million since its late May debut.

But Samsung's skill as a "fast executioner" - quick to match others' innovations - would likely mean tweaked, non-patent infringing devices would be on the market soon after any ban came into place, analysts said.

"The ruling is a costly lesson for Samsung - but also an opportunity for a true alternative to Apple's well-known hardware with more innovative thinking and imaginative products ahead," Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note.

"There are more ways to build a touch screen smartphone and thanks to its fast execution capability, Samsung could quickly work around design changes, upgrading models and introducing new technology such as flexible displays, Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note to differentiate its devices from Apple."

Samsung was disappointed by the verdict and plans to keep up the legal fight to have its claims accepted, according to an internal memo sent to its employees and released to the media.

"We've sought to settle this through negotiations, as Apple is our customer but had no choice but to counter sue," the memo said. "History has shown there has yet to be a company that has won the hearts and minds of consumers and achieved continuous growth when its primary means to competition has been the outright abuse of patent law, not the pursuit of innovation."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Apple, Samsung products banned in South Korea

A South Korean court ruled on Friday that technology rivals Apple and Samsung Electronics both infringed on each other's patents, and ordered a partial ban of their products in South Korea.

The Seoul Central District Court ordered Apple to remove the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad and iPad 2 from shelves in South Korea, citing they infringed two of Samsung's telecommunications patents. The court also ruled that Samsung infringed one of Apple's patents related to the screen's bouncing back ability and banned sales of the Galaxy S2 and 9 other products in South Korea.

Sales of devices recently released by Samsung and Apple -- including the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S3 smartphones -- were not affected.

The court also ordered the two parties to pay monetary compensation to each other. Samsung must pay Apple 25 million won ($22,000) while Apple must pay its rival 40 million won.

The lawsuit is part of global, multibillion dollar fight between the world's two largest smartphone makers. The biggest stakes are in the US, however, where the two companies are locked in an epic struggle over patents and innovation in a federal court in San Jose, California.

Cupertino-based Apple sued Samsung in 2011 in the US, alleging that some of the South Korean company's smartphones and computer tablets are illegal knockoffs of Apple's iPhone and iPad. Samsung denies the allegations and argues that all companies in the cutthroat phone industry mimic each other's successes without crossing the legal line.

Apple is suing Suwon-based Samsung for $2.5 billion, making the case one of the biggest technology disputes in history. Jury deliberations began Wednesday after three weeks of testimony.

Days after Apple filed its suit in the US, Samsung filed a lawsuit on its home turf and in other countries, accusing Apple of breaching its telecommunications patents.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New look of Amitabh Bachchan in The Great Gatsby

The trailer for Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby will be released online later today.

The film has generated much buzz in India as it features Amitabh Bachchan in a 'friendly appearance' alongside stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. TOI brings you an exclusive first look at Big B's character, Meyer Wolfsheim ahead of the release of the first trailer, which lasts 2 minutes 22 seconds.

This is Bachchan's maiden Hollywood outing and what we know is this: while he makes a 'friendly' appearance in the film, he is prominently visible throughout this early trailer. Bachchan had earlier, on his blog, played down his participation in the film, citing it a "mere one scene appearance as a friendly gesture." As Big B narrates it, the Australian director during a private visit to India in 2010 had dropped by his office to meet him. Then in August 2011, "called and wondered if I would do this small role in his film and I agreed. It is a gesture." Interestingly, Big B has refused "any remuneration on this" role. "As to why Baz chose to ask me, is something that perhaps he would be better placed to answer," Bachchan Sr further wrote.

In the book, while at lunch in one scene, Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio) introduces the young Nick Carraway (Maguire) to Meyer Wolfsheim (Bachchan), a disreputable character who proudly calls their attention to his cufflinks, made from human molars. Wolfsheim, an infamous gambler, claims responsibility for fixing the 1919 baseball World Series.

Luhrmann's film, with a reported budget of $126m, is currently being shot in Sydney. Earlier reports suggest that Luhrmann is considering shooting sections in 3D.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

6 Manly qualities that women love in men

There are certain qualities in men that women absolutely dig.

It's not just about being tall, dark and handsome. There are certain 'manly' qualities about guys that can make any woman go weak in her knees. And while you may think it's all about the looks, guess what? There's more. It's a potent mix of both, physical attributes and of course, that all important emotional touch. Here, we tell you about six points you need to heed.

Well groomed 
Yes, we said tall but the reality is that height is really not as important a factor as how you present yourself. Just like guys like a women who is well turned out, women too dig guys who ensure that they are perfectly groomed a la Leonardo DiCaprio. The basic funda women believe in is that if you are careful enough to take care of yourself, they can trust you to take care of them. So, remember guys, sloppy dressing, uncombed hair, dirty nails, smelly socks, stained shirts or jeans and the likes are an absolute no-no when you are trying to make that all important impression on someone from the opposite sex.

A sense of style 
Women would rather have you splurging on them than on obscenely priced designer wear. So, even if it's a typical roadside purchase that you swear by, make sure you adopt a certain classy and stylised look and maintain it. Women don't really expect you to be a picture copy of a Pierce Brosnan or a David Beckham, but trying to imitate their style will surely up your popularity quotient. Keep yourself updated on the latest trends. Also, just as you have your reservations against the 'nun-type' dressers, women too hesitate when it comes to the boring office type dresser.

Laugh it out 
One of the most important trait that woman dig is a sense of humour. Women have more than enough problems to deal with and don't really need the company of another equally depressed soul. Yes, you have your bad days, but it does go a long way if you have a good sense of humour, and clean humour at that. Beware, taking a dig at others and constantly putting others down do not really spell fun for women. And we can't tell you enough how much women love people who can laugh at themselves and their own mistakes.

Show them you care 
Women need to be constantly reassured that they are loved and cared for. Acts like holding their hand while walking down the road, watching the sunset, an occasional hug and peck on the cheeks and making sure that they cross the road safely mean that you are proud to be seen with them and care for them. Remember, not displaying your affection openly is a sign that you are ashamed of who you are with. However, beware of being crass while displaying you affections.

A sexy smile/wink
There's a reason why women absolutely adore Richard Gere or Hugh Jackman and it has a lot to do with the way that they smile or that glint in their eyes. Believe us when we tell you that if you look at them and smile like that, it does make them feel very special, like they are one in a million.

Be calm 
Woman are known to be harrowed and frenzied. Yes, they do tend to get hyper very easily and that is the precise reason why you need to be the calming factor in their lives. It really doesn't help if you too get stressed out or fly off the handle at any and every incident. Your sex appeal lies as much in your looks as it does in your attitude - women dig guys with a cool and peaceful attitude, the one who is able to calm them down and reassure them that all is well.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why did Shah Rukh Khan get angry?

All, it would seem, is fair in love and the game of cricket. When SRK and his merry posse of security guards literally wanted to have a field day after decisively trouncing the IPL Mumbai team on Wednesday night, he forgot that it wasn't quite cricket that he and his entourage were indulging in.

Shah Rukh Khan, we hear, was high and happy, and he refused to play ball when he was politely told by the stadium authorities that the victory celebration couldn't be taken to the grounds. That's when the pitch took an abusive turn, and the actor and his faithful band of bodyguards ,allegedly, hurled abuses and even got physical with the stadium personnel. Chances are that SRK may face a lifetime ban from entering the Wankhade Stadium premises, but will there be another major fallout too? Of two friends possibly turning foes?

Let's not forget, IPL Mumbai owner Nita Ambani and SRK have been good friends, and it was in April this year that Nita flew SRK to Yale University in her private aircraft. At Yale, where he addressed the students, SRK said, "We were detained at the airport as always. For one and a half hours. It was nice. It always happens when I come to America. Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself I take a trip to America." Time to visit America soon, SRK?

Will this on-a-strong-wicket friendship between Nita and SRK now take some beating because of how SRK's victory celebration panned out? Nita, for all we know, might be inclined to consider all this part of the game, or, maybe, she won't be game enough to excuse this, reportedly, obnoxious behaviour.

SRK, who's prone to losing his shirt a bit too often in the recent past, may want to know that being ballsy is not really about bats and balls. And that knights are known for their chivalry! Repeated attempts to get SRK to field our questions drew a blank.

Tweets @Actor_Siddharth: It's now clear that only 1 ipl team owner is allowed to jog along sidelines, bounce around the ground and pretty much do what 'she' wants!

@bhupendrachaube : Absolutely unacceptable behaviour by shahrukh khan, nothing can justify his manhandling of security guards, cricket is a party, enjoy it

@kamaalrkhan : Ajkal #SRK is super angry. Jahan dekho laat ghoose chalaa deta hai. You really rock khan sahab.

@mojorojo : WANKHEDE MEIN AAYA BHOOT, no wait that's just Shah Rukh Khan.

@ashwinmushran : Really....You are upset at SRK but not upset at the behaviour of our venerable health minister Shri Shri Shri #SureshShetty?

Reactions Prahlad Kakkar, ad guru When you give a bandar (read: security guard) a uniform and whistle in his hand, he behaves like a human being but without the charm, intelligence or sensitivity of a human being. He will always remain a bandar. You have to teach him manners. The match was over, the owner (SRK) of the winning team had arrived with kids as an outing and then some bandar tells him that if he doesn't have a pass, he can't enter! He was insulted in front of the kids. He's not just anybody, he's a star. Plus, the match was over and the prize distribution was on so he should have been treated properly. And, it's rubbish that Shah Rukh was drunk with kids around. His behaviour is impeccable. So if BCCI and any other cricket club are trying to defend the bandar, then I'm sorry, but they need a lesson in behaviour.

Shilpa Shetty, actress Please excuse me, I am pregnant and I really don't care who is fighting with whom.

Nikhil Dwivedi, actor Of what I know about Shah Rukh Khan, he never gets into a scuffle without a reason. And I just got to know about it, so I can't say anything about it at the moment.

Gaurav Kapoor, anchor I left immediately after the match, so I don't know what happened. And now I am boarding a flight right now, Sorry I can't comment on it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Why did Sachin go straight?

Like millions of young Indians, ace batsman Sachin Tendulkar has ditched his iconic curls to fuel a 6,900-crore salon industry. Which leads us to wonder: What is it about straight hair that makes everyone from film stars and homemakers to corporates (even the US First Lady) fall in line?
As a 12-year-old, Aditi Sheoran had hair that was curly, almost-Afro, but stayed out of her face. As a 29-year-old, the Human Resources executive with a multinational consulting firm in Delhi has a hairdo that is silky, and falls elegantly on her shoulders.
Sheoran puts her love for straight hair down to two reasons. One, the desire to leave her hair open - something that her "rough curls always prevented" while she was growing up; two, the sheer convenience of it, as a busy professional.
Sheoran's affair with re-bonding, a procedure of hair straightening, began six years ago, when after earning her first salary of 20,000 through a summer job in management school, she spent 6,000 on straightening her curls. ("They had to do it twice, my hair was that curly!") She recently treated her hair for the sixth time, and 'relaxed' it once, before her wedding in 2010. "I don't need to comb my hair. I wash it, and let it dry. I don't need to use any gels or wax. It's simpler than having curly hair," she says.
Till date, Sheoran estimates she has spent almost 45,000 on keeping it simple. Much like the rest of India, from cricketers and corporate honchos to Bollywood actors, homemakers, and college students, whose love for straight hair is apparent through a fast-growing hair industry.
500 crore and growing
Organisational Mondiale Coiffure is an international hair trends forecast organisation. According to member and hair expert Blossom Kochhar, the industry is worth 500 crore.
"While the share of the hair market is smaller than skin care, it is witnessing rapidly rising profits. An average Indian h o u s e h o l d s p e n d s 4,000 a month on hair treatments and products like shampoo, conditioner, anti-frizz lotions, serums, ironrods, curlers, hair straightening and colouring. The hair extension market has also grown, where clip-on straight hair extensions worth approximately 15,000 each are most popular," she says.
"India's obsession with straight hair is giving good money to salons, which are aggressively marketing their products," says Ritu Marya, editor-inchief at Franchise India Holdings Limited, which released the first-ever detailed report on salon business and consumption in India, this March. According to the Indian Salon Report, the country's salon market is worth 6,900 crore and will grow 30 per cent in this decade. "Hair is the new business opportunity," says Marya, adding, "Hair straightening is giving rise to new business ideas like Jawed Habib's walk-in Express Bar that shun 'appointments', and Adhuna Akhtar's first exclusive blowdry bar in Mumbai."
Men like it straight too
And the craze isn't restricted to women. The report reveals that 53 per cent of Indian men surveyed visit parlours for a range of services, including hair care, once a month.
We know at least two of them. In March, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar straightened his curls.

Teammate Zaheer Khan, too, appeared with a bouncy mane for the ongoing IPL series. Says New Delhibased hair stylist Jawed Habib, "Chemical straightening takes about three hours for men and can cost anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000."
Cricket commentator Charu Sharma is quick to jump to the 'boys' defence. "The changing of (hair) styles is just a little touch of appearing contemporary. They are not trying to set a trend. In fact, the trend has already been set - there are a lot of young men with re-bonded hair today."
Price is not a problem Sharma's right. Celebrity hair stylist Hakim Aalim has styled both, Khan and Tendulkar's hair, besides Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, M S Dhoni, and Shoaib Akhtar's. A quick look at hair trends in Bollywood attests to the 'straight look' craze.
Rekha, Dimple, Sridevi, Madhuri and Sunny Deol's curly, and sometimes frizzy tresses from the '80s and '90s have given way to Sonakshi, Shahid and John's straight crops. Even coil-haired Kangna Ranaut recently went 'straight', again.

Popular Mumbai beauty products department store, Beauty Palace, has sold over 10,500 hair straightening creams in the past one year, and sells close to 1,000 hair irons a month, both to parlours and individual customers.
Firdaus Padamsee, who runs Firdy's Salon in Mumbai's upmarket neighbourhood of Napean Sea Road, was one of the first salon owners to bring down the hair straightening technique from Singapore. In 1998, his wife and salon co-owner, Farida undertook a course in the technique and bought products worth $5,000. They offered hair straightening - a procedure that lasted eight hours then - for 25,000. Despite the cost, the procedure became a rage among South Mumbai's affluent clientele.

Today, his salon offers re-bonding and hair relaxation, where an average session costs 3,000. He does not offer Keratin treatment owing to the controversy surrounding the presence of formaldehyde - a known carcinogenic substance - in these products.
A look that depicts conformity
People read statements into how we wear our hair. In the corporate world, the straight look defines sophistication and chic - take a look at any of India Inc's power women, from Naina Lal Kidwai to Chanda Kochhar. Grooming expert Sabira Merchant says, "Hair defines status, power and wealth. In the corporate world, straight hair is perceived as classier."
Nayanika Chatterjee, a former model best known for her curls says, "The grass is greener on the other side. Even as a model with curly hair, I lusted after straight hair and got it straightened thrice. Straight hair gives you a lot more variation. If I cut a fringe with curly hair, I look like a poodle!"
Model Diandra Soares, who has straightened her curls and even gone bald, says, "My curls made me stand apart in the modelling world. Straight hair is associated with the gharelu ladki stereotype. Curly hair means you're a wild child. There's a national obsession with the poker straight look, but I've always been happy being super curly."
Soares has a point. Natural-looking straight hair and pokerstraight-hair continue to remain popular among young India. Hindi film casting director Shanoo Sharma, who views portfolio photographs of aspirants, says, "Most photographs I receive are of straight haired aspirants. Very few wear it curly." And while Sharma says, she isn't a fan of poker-straight hair, often asking aspirants to return after they've grown back their 'normal' hair, at the end of the day, how they wear their hair doesn't matter. "What matters is their talent. After all, I have my team of hair and makeup artists who will do up their hair to make it look glamorous - whether straight or curly."
How to keep curls in check, and stylish

- Ditch the curling irons. They only make hair more frizzy. Always trim the split-ends.
- Don't wash it daily. Stick to 2-3 times a week. You can condition it in between, though.

- Apply the conditioner about an inch or two down from the root to the tips of your hair. Wait a couple of minutes and run your fingers through your hair to remove the knots. Rinse, and use a wide-toothed comb to detangle it.

- Don't scrub at your roots with a towel. This causes friction, increasing the frizz in your hair when it's dry.
- Never blow dry your curls. You can however use a diffuser (a blow-dryer attachment). Direct it towards the curl, holding it in your hand, and squeezing the water out gently.
- If you're using more than one hair product in your hair, wait for 3 to 5 minutes before applying the next. Apply only when the hair is damp.
- Deep condition your hair at least once a week to lock the moisture in. What's on offer?
Blow dry: A good old hair dryer and round brush are used to straighten out the hair. Usually lasts a few days or until your next wash. Chemical treatments: These involve an application of a hair product like an alkaline chemical solution, which breaks the bonds in your hair that cause it to curl. Once this relaxing effect has been achieved, a neutralising solution is applied to reform new bonds, set a new structure and make the straightening permanent. Lasts till new hair grows from the roots. These include:
- Re-bonding (also called thermal reconditioning) and Japanese straightening:
Uses a combination of straightening and conditioning agents along with irons.
Hair relaxing: Doesn't last as long, because it only relaxes the curls in the hair, but doesn't remove them totally. The iron rod is used for a lesser duration during hair relaxation.
Keratin treatment: The controversy over Keratin hair products arises from the fact that it contains formaldehyde, a known human carcinogenic. When introduced in the US two years ago, salon owners who worked with the chemical, reported difficulty breathing, nose bleeds and eye irritation. The permissible limit for exposure to the chemical is .2 per cent. Within the hair straightening scene, new techniques constantly emerge, and the temptation to veer away from the 'poker straight' look is increasing. Mumbai-based maverick stylist Sapna Bhavnani says she has never done a straightening in her career. She offers Keratin treatment, and the Brazilian Blowout, which cut out the frizz.
Hair iron straightening: Lasts till your next wash or until you tie your hair up. A contraption fitted with ceramic blades that heat up is run over small sections of the hair, to straighten it. The result is rulerstraight hair.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Android-based ViewSonic 3 smartphone comes to India

ViewSonic on Thursday launched first Android-based dual-Sim 3G smartphone, ViewPhone 3 in India. The device features a 3.5-inches touchscreen with 320 X 480 resolution and runs on the Android 2.3 operating system (OS). The phone has 512MB RAM and it is powered by Qualcomm 800 MHz processor. The phone sports a 5-megapixel rear autofocus camera.

For connectivity, the device offers HSDPA 7.2mbps for browsing, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, USB port and tethering options. The phone memory is expandable upto 32GB through a microSD card. The other features include ViewScene 3D technology, 3.5mm audio jack, G-sensor, E-compass and 1500 mAh battery.

ViewSonic 3 is available at price of Rs 9,990.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sony launches 13 MP smartphone, Xperia GX

Sony Mobile Communications has launched two new Android-based LTE smartphones in Japan, Xperia SX and Xperia GX.

Sony branded Xperia GX has a 13-megapixel camera. Xperia GX has an 4.6-inch HD screen and 16GB of internal flash storage.

Xperia SX comes with a 3.7-inch screen and weighs 95 gm, making it one of the world's lightest LTE smartphone according to the company. Xperia SX has 8GB of internal flash storage and an 8-megapixel camera.

Both the smartphones are powered by 1.5GHz dual-core processors and will run on Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.

The company has not announced the pricing of the two smartphones.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Asin’s new commitment!

Asin is busy learning a new dance form off late.

The actress who is not known for her dancing really is learning waltz.

Asin has learnt the 'Viennese Waltz', for a soap brand she endorses.

We heard Asin has reportedly mastered the steps of the intricate dance in a remarkably short while!

The actress was shooting in Wai for 'Bol Bachchan' and shot for the ad once she wrapped up her shoot. The ad was directed by Harvey Brown who specially travelled to Wai for Asin's rehearsals. Asin would learn Waltz during the nights.

Her sheer hard work has surely paid off as those who have seen the Ad are all gung ho about the actress's dancing skills!

The actress plans to further her Waltz training from now on.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Daniel Radcliffe turns poet for girlfriend

Daniel Radcliffe has taken to writing sonnets for his girlfriend Rosie Coker.

The 'Harry Potter' actor, who is in New York, filming 'Kill Your Darlings' spends his free time writing poetry for his production assistant girlfriend, the Sun reported.

The 22-year-old is essaying the part of poet Allen Ginsberg in the flick.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sony launches first ultrabooks, VAIO T series

Sony is finally joining the ultrabooks fray. The company has launched its first ultrabook series dubbed VAIO T.

VAIO T series will come in two sizes -- 11" and 13.3" -- and is powered by Intel's ultra-low voltage i3 Sandy Bridge processors. The ultrabooks have a 17.8mm thick brushed aluminum body and up to 9 hours of battery life.

Other features include 4GB of DDR3 memory as standard, and 320GB hard drive with a second 32GB SSD. VAIO T Series sports comes HDMI, VGA and RJ45 network ports, plus an SD/MMC media slot and an 1.3 megapixel "Exmor for PC" HD web camera. xLOUDTM and Clear Phase technologies are for sound.

The company hasn't revealed the pricing.

Key specs:

* Intel Core-i3 2367M processor * Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit * 4GB DDR3 RAM * 320GB HDD * Intel HD Graphics 3000 * Bundles Adobe Acrobat X Standard

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: Huawei Honor

The name Huawei may not ring a bell for most phone buyers in India, but it is a huge multinational firm. The company is among the leading manufacturers of telecom equipment in the world and in the recent years has become a big player in phone and tablet market.

Gartner, a market research firm, said in February that Huawei had 2.3% share in 2011 in smartphone market worldwide. This put it marginally ahead of Motorola and Sony Ericsson.

After some success in its home country - China - the firm has started expanding operations abroad. Due to similarities in Indian and Chinese phone market - both are developing countries and price sensitive - consumers here are obvious targets for Huawei. Last year, it had tested the waters here with Ideos range of phones. This year it is more assertive. It has already launched Honor, a mid-range Android phone, and plans to bring Ascend D, the flagship device, soon.

We have Honor with us today. With this phone, Huawei promises consumers best-in-class features at most competitive price. Not an easy promise to fulfill, we know. Let's find out if Honor can take on the competition in mid-range smartphone market.

Looks good on paper Honor may not have superstar looks but it's not shabby either. The design is classic candy bar. It has a plastic body with two buttons - power and volume rocker - given chrome finish. Under the 4-inches screen, which has a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels, there are four touch buttons for Options, Home, Back and Search. The back cover, which has a textured finish, can be removed to access SIM slot and battery.

With a thickness of 11mm and a weight of 140grams, there is nothing striking about Honor. But at the same time, it is functional design, which makes using the device very easy.

Honor is powered by a single-core 1.4Ghz processor. It has 512MB RAM and 4GB storage, with option to add a micro SD card. The highlight of the device is 8MP primary camera with a LED flash. The phone can record videos in up to 720P resolution. A 2MP camera is provided for video chats.

User experience
In terms of hardware, Honor is better many mid-range phone. But after using it for weeks, we feel that the hardware advantage has not translated into the user experience that can put Honor ahead of the pack. Let us elaborate.

For most parts, Honor acts like a nice mid-range Android phones. This means it may not dazzle you with speed and superfast user interface but for all practical purposes the performance is adequate. Apps open without any lag, casual games like Angry Birds work very well, GPS locks in a snap, browsing experience is pleasant, and call quality is good. Media playback is average with the phone failing to play several file formats, like the ones encoded with DivX, but that is acceptable from a mid-range phone. Honor's speaker, though, is very loud considering its size.

But there are two aspects that stand out. One for good reasons and another for, well, not being up to the mark.

Good news first. The 8MP pixels camera in Honor punches above its weight. The photograph taken with it have decent amount of details and balanced colours. It doesn't perform very well in low-light but it is all same with most midrange smartphones. Videos shot in 720P resolution are acceptable.

Now, the bad news. Honor's 4-inch screen is disappointing. It shows good colours and is sufficiently bright until you are not standing in sunlight. Viewing angles could have been better but they will not be any issue for most buyers. The problem is with the screen's touch sensitivity, which is a tad slow. It is not as slow or bad as what found on sub-10K phones but then Honor is not competing with these phones. While in many tasks - for example web browsing - it doesn't affect the user experience, playing games like Temple Run, which require flawless touch sensitivity, is difficult on Honor.

Another problem with screen is 'ghosting'. It is especially apparent if you are using a Twitter app. While scrolling through timeline, display pictures of contacts leave traces. Ghosting may not be a problem in most cases but if it occurs - in our case it was during Twitter use - it will bug users.

Battery life is good. When used for emails, Twitter, some photography, some gaming, some calls and lots of browsing the phone lasted over 10 hours on 3G connection.

Worth its price
Huawei Honor is a decent phone for its price. Screen could have been better but given its good performance and a decent camera for still pictures, our experience with Honor wasn't bad. At the same time, it is not the kind of experience that can make us give Honor a clear recommendation. The phone has an MRP of Rs 19,999. At this price, its primary competitors are HTC One V, Samsung Galaxy S Plus, Sony Ericsson Neo V and Nokia Lumia 710.

If you are out in the market, looking for a mid-range smartphone, you should definitely consider Honor. Just that before buying it, make sure you demo it at the store to see if you are comfortable with the touch response or not.

Pros: Good camera for still photographs, lag-free performance

Cons: Screen touch sensitivity is not optimum, out-of-box runs on Gingerbread and not Ice cream sandwich, the latest version of Android

Friday, April 27, 2012

LACS cuts Magnum tablet prices by 36%

Lakshmi Access Communications Systems (LACS) has slashed prices of its tablet PCs by 36 per cent, eyeing over 25 per cent growth in sales amid growing competition.

"We have reduced the prices of our entire range of products by 36 per cent. With the price cut, we expect to increase sales by over 25 per cent," company's National Sales Head Vikas Anand told reporters here.

The company, which forayed into the tablet market about six months back, sells tablet PCs under 'Magnum' brand and has sold about 6,000 tablets in India till now.

Meanwhile, the company launched two new variants of its 'Magnum' range of tablets -- Tamarind B7 (with seven inch screen) and T10 (with ten inch screen). The B7 is priced at Rs 11,499 and the T10 at 20,499.

Both the devices run on Android 2.3 operating system and are powered by 1.2 Ghz processor.

LACS, which has around 120 experience stores across the country, has set a target of opening 10,000 such stores in the next 24 months.

Experience stores showcase the entire range of company's products and "consumers can go and experience live products which will help them in their buying decision," he added.

The company would soon also be launching its range of accessories such as wireless keyboard and wireless mouse.

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