All posts by Pallab De

Pallab De is a blogger from India who has a soft spot for anything techie. He loves trying out new software and spends most of his day breaking and fixing his PC. Pallab loves participating in the social web; he has been active in technology forums since he was a teenager and is an active user of both twitter (@indyan) and facebook .

Mozilla to Introduce Support for Private Windows in Firefox 20

Apple introduced the concept of private browsing way back in 2005; however, this feature became mainstream only about three years back. When surfing in private browsing mode, the browser covers your tracks. Browsing history is not recorded, and cookies are automatically deleted once you end the session. Currently, all major browsers support private browsing. However, the implementation varies from browser to browser. Opera, which was the last major browser to support this feature, has the best implementation. It supports not only private windows, but also private tabs. Chrome and Internet Explorer on the other hand support private windows, but not private tabs. Firefox’s implementation is currently the most limited one. It supports neither private tabs nor private windows. If you enter private browsing mode, your current session is halted, all existing tabs are closed, and a new private session is created. However, this is set to change soon.

Mozilla-Firefox-Private-Browsing

Mozilla has been working on re-writing its private browsing implementation for the past 19 months, and is finally ready to showcase its progress. A new experimental build is now available, which features support for private windows. You can now begin a private browsing session in a new window while retaining your existing session. The experimental build is available for Winows, OS X, and Linux. This feature will make its mainstream debut in Firefox 20, which is scheduled to be released in March/April 2013.

[ Download Firefox with Private Windows ]

Nvidia Tegra 4 Leaked, Features 72 GPU Cores

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 and Samsung’s Exynos might be the current champions of performance in the mobile arena; however, if leaked slides are to be believed, their reign might not last long. Nvidia’s Tegra 4 will be six times as powerful as the Tegra 3 and feature as many as 72 GPU cores.

Nvidia-Tegra-4

Tegra 4, which bears the superhero-themed codename Wayne, will use 28 nanometer process that is already being used by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and Apple’s A6X. The improved 28nm architecture should lower power consumption, but will require enhanced heat dissipation. Nvidia is also updating its mobile powerhouse to ARM’s Cortex-A15 design. The Tegra 4, will retain the quad-core CPU setup, with an additional power saving core. The chip will be capable of powering displays up to 2,560 x 1600, with 1080p output at 120Hz. The slide also mentions 4K or Ultra-HD (UHD) output. The other exciting development is the inclusion of support for USB 3.0, which should give a bump to read and write speeds.

If the leaked slide is accurate, then Nvidia will again jump to the front of the pack and raise the bar for mobile computing. We will know for sure within a couple of months it is almost certain that Nvidia will show off its newest creation at either the CES or the MWC.

Sony Mobile 2013: New Pictures of Yuga Emerge

2012 hasn’t exactly turned out to be a great year for Sony Mobile. The Japanese manufacturer has been struggling to simply keep up with the competition. Months after HTC and Samsung released its flagships, Sony is yet to release anything that can compete in pure specs as well as performance. However, 2013 is shaping up to be a much more impressive year for Sony.

Several smartphones from Sony’s 2013 lineup have already been leaked. Odin (C650X) and Yuga (C660X) are likely to be the Sony flagships for next year. While we don’t know much about Odin, last month, we got our first look at Yuga. Now, Eldar Murtazin from Mobile-Review has managed to get his hands on Yuga. As previously reported, the phone boasts of a 5” full HD (1080p) LCD dispay, and is powered by a Snapdragon S4 Pro. Elder was impressed with what he saw, and termed the powerful processor and the large display as a “fabulous combination”. However, he also noted that the device tends to get “warm as a stove”.

Sony-Xperia-Yuga-1

Sony-Xperia-Yuga

Another new device, which currently goes by the codename HuaShan (C5303X) was spotted on AnTuTu. HuaShan will probably be a budget device sporting a 1.7 GHz dual-core CPU. The other two Sony Mobile smartphones that we know of are unnamed devices bearing the code numbers C150X and C160X. They will be entry level offerings powered by a 1.0GHz single-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7227A chipset with Adreno 200 graphics.

Remove Metro UI from Windows 8 with Ex7ForW8

Windows 8’s new Modern UI (Metro) hasn’t exactly wowed users as Microsoft was hoping it would. For me, the biggest annoyance with Windows 8 is its jarring and conflicting nature. I had detailed my frustrations with the Metro UI more than a year back. Unfortunately, not a lot has changed since then. The full-screen app layout might make a lot of sense on smaller form-factors; however, it feels crippled on a laptop. Windows, which was one regarded as the king of multi-tasking, sacrificed one of its biggest features in an attempt to become modern.

To be honest, not everything about the Modern UI is bad. The Start screen is definitely a big improvement. It’s not only beautiful to look at, but it is also pretty productive. The Market is something that Windows should have received a long time back. And, SkyDrive integration is really handy. However, if you feel that the Windows 8 Metro UI is more trouble than it’s worth, then you can easily nix it.

Windows-8-Remove-Metro

A new portable Windows 8 application called Ex7ForW8 (Explorer 7 for Windows 8) allows you to enjoy all the performance and security benefits of Windows 8, while removing the Modern UI. Ex7ForW8 is actually a wrapper to the Windows 7 explorer.exe. Once installed, it will automatically launch Windows 7’s Explorer on boot and hide all traces of the Metro UI. It doesn’t actually modify any system and protected registry entries. So, you can easily switch back to the old UI by switching shells from the app. The app itself works as advertized, with the only drawback being that you will need to supply the WIndows 7 explorer.exe as the app doesn’t include one in its package.

[ Download Ex7ForW8 ]

via BetaNews

Center Align the New Youtube Interface

Google rolled out an updated YouTube layout a couple of days back. The new design makes YouTube more consistent with other Google properties. While the reaction to the new design has been mixed, one aspect of the new YouTube has drawn almost universal ire. YouTube is now left-aligned, much like Google Plus. On high-resolution displays this results in loads of white space on the right of the screen, and makes the YouTube surfing experience extremely jarring.

Fortunately, it’s rather simple to fix this design issue. All you need to do is install the “Youtube Center Aligned” user script. The script works on Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. You can get the installation instructions for Firefox and Opera at UserScripts.com. To install in Chrome, simply download the userscript, open the extensions manager (Tools –> Extensions), and drag-and-drop the downloaded script onto Chrome. Alternatively you can install the Tampermonkey extension for Chrome, and then install the userscript.

YouTube-Center-Aligned

Even with this script, there is a lot of wastage of screen real-estate. My favorite YouTube userscript is Unique Youtube Skin, which automatically resizes the video to make full use of your screen.

Youtube-Full-Screen

[ Hat-tip: Atul Varaskar ]

Swiftkey Flow – SwiftKey’s Prediction Engine Meets Gesture Typing

Back in October, we blogged about a new Android keyboard called SwiftKey Flow. Android already has several dozen keyboards, so a new keyboard is hardly newsworthy. However, SwiftKey Flow had us salivating, simply because of the folks behind it. SwiftKey’s other keyboard – SwiftKey X, has the best prediction engine in the market. Once it gets used to your typing style, it often manages to effortlessly predict word after word. In spite this, SwiftKey never managed to cement its position as the default keyboard on my phone. The sole reason for that is its lack of support for gesture typing. Gesture typing, pioneered by Swype, is the best way to type on touchscreen mobile devices. It’s not only a lot faster, but it also takes a lot less effort, and requires only one hand.

SwiftKey-Flow

SwiftKey Flow promises the best of both worlds. It boasts of SwiftKey’s renowned prediction engine, and supports gesture typing. After teasing us for months, SwiftKey announced the open beta of Flow a short while back. Like the original SwiftKey, the new Flow keyboard also can scan your messages, Facebook and Twitter posts, and Gmail conversations to learn your typing pattern and build up its dictionary. Flow also keeps on learning as you type. So, the longer you use, the better it gets. The Flow is meant for both tap-typing and gesture-typing. While gesture-typing is identical to Swype, it doesn’t seem to support all the bells and whistles of Swype. However, Flow does have a couple of unique tricks up its sleeve. It features instant predictions, which keep on changing as you keep swiping. And it supports continuous typing, which SwiftKey calls “Flow through Space”. You can type entire sentences without lifting your finger, by simply gliding over the space key to begin a new word.

SwiftKey-Flow-Gesture-Typing

It’s hard to review SwiftKey after using it for less than six hours. However, one thing that’s amply clear is that SwiftKey still has a long way to go because it can match Swype’s accuracy. Gesture typing often leads to wrong guesses, and since the prediction engine tries to predict the next word, going back and correcting mistakes is annoying. I also missed Swype’s convenient single tap replace while using SwiftKey. SwiftKey Flow’s biggest challenge is that it is trying to tailor itself for both tap typing and gesture typing. Right now, its split personality is holding it back.

[ Download SwiftKey Flow ]

Google Announces Great Online Shopping Festival for Indians

great-online-shopping-festivalE-commerce in India has been experiencing rapid growth over the past few years. It’s estimated to be worth $1.6 billion in 2012 (Forrester Trends Report), which is not a huge number by global standards, but is impressive considering the demographics. However, still many Indians shy away from buying stuff online. Trusting retailers who are probably located several thousand kilometres away to deliver goods that one hasn’t checked first-hand is a scary proposition for many Indians.

Google is trying to break the shackles and initiate more Indians to online shopping by leveraging its brand name and deep pockets. The online giant is organizing a “Great Online Shopping Festival” on Dec 12. It has roped in most of the biggies in the Indian e-commerce space, including Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal, Pepperfry, and Jabong. Google has also partnered with classifieds, matrimonial services, job portals, and real estate agencies. You can avail attractive discount on premium memberships for services like Bharat Matrimony and Monster.com.

In addition to leveraging its online assets and getting the buzz going on social media, Google is also campaigning on radio channels. The target is obviously the middle class that has so far stayed away from e-commerce. It has even prepared a handy collection of tips for new shoppers. Unlike in most western countries, winter shopping is not a big deal in India. It will be interesting to see if Google can help change that with its Cyber Monday-esque shopping festival.

[ Visit Grand Online Shopping Festival ]

Reports: Samsung to Release Flexible Phones in 2013

Flexible, wearable phones – stuff from sci-fi flicks that we have all drooled over, might show up in the market as early as next year. Flexible OLED displays have earlier been demoed by several display manufacturers including Samsung, LG, and Sony. Some of them, like Sony, have been researching on bendable displays for nearly a decade; however, none of them have been able to simplify the process to make them suitable for manufacturing in bulk.

Now, reports from BBC and WSJ suggest that Samsung might be in the last phase of development of flexible OLEDS. Devices using these next generation displays will be extremely light and unbreakable, as they will be using plastic instead of glass. Lee Chang-hoon, Vice President of Samsung’s display unit, confirmed that the company is currently sampling the displays with a few customers. A big challenge in creating flexible phones is that the entire assembly, including the display, battery, chipset, and the housing needs to be flexible. Mass producing such units have so far proved to be prohibitively expensive.

Samsung-Flexible-OLED

Reports suggest that the new flexible phones will be showcased in the first half of 2013. If that pans out, then chances are that Samsung might reveal something exciting in next year’s CES and MWC.

VLC Takes to Kickstarter to Fund Windows 8 App Development

2012 is probably going to go down as the year crowd funding grew up. Kickstarter projects reached unprecedented levels of success as the crowd funding service gained steam. Elevation Dock for iPhone became the first project to cross the million dollar mark in February 2012. Soon after, Pebble watch shattered all records and went on to raise more than $10 million, which was over hundred times its initial goal. Since then, we have seen numerous projects like Ouya, and Project Eternity surge past the million dollar milestone with ease. While initially most Kickstarter projects belonged to the art and media segment, this year saw hardware and software projects take the lead. Now, even established projects like VLC are also taking to Kickstarter to meet their goals.

VLC-Metro-App

The VideoLan team has started a funding drive on Kickstarter to back the development of Windows 8 User Experience (Metro) app for VLC. The team already has already built a working prototype with minimal features and is looking to raise at least £40,000. VLC is aiming to release a Windows Store compliant Metro app that will run on both Intel and ARM chipsets. The new app will be completely rewritten with the WinRT APIs and feature a touch optimized user interface, while retaining most of the best features of VLC including full-fledged equalizer, video filters and superior support for subtitles. Unlike the built-in media player, out of the box support for CDs, DVDs, as well as unencrypted Blu-Rays is also planned. VLC is hoping that the fund-raiser will allow it to hire professional designers to build a beautiful and clean user interface, in addition to allowing many of its experienced developers to work full-time on the project.

VLCs fund-raising drive will continue for a month, and you have a chance to get your name in the application by pledging as little as £3. If the fund-raising goal is met, VLC app for Windows 8 is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2013.

Windows Blue: Free, Annual Upgrades for Windows

Windows-BlueIt’s been just about a month since Windows 8 was released, but Microsoft is already hard at work on its successor. Of course, this isn’t really surprising. However, what is surprising is that Microsoft might be gearing up to launch Windows 8’s successor as early as next year.

The Verge is reporting that Microsoft plans on ditching its traditional big-bang release cycle in favor of a more iterative annual release cycle. The next Windows OS, which is currently going by the codename ‘Windows Blue’, is slated for launch in mid-2013. It will reportedly include UI changes and alterations to the entire platform. The Windows SDK will also be updated, and in a move that will surely infuriate developers, once Blue is released, Microsoft will stop accepting apps coded using the Windows 8 SDK in the Store. Thankfully, Blue will be fully backward compatible, and will be capable of running Windows 8 apps. The most interesting thing about Blue is that Microsoft plans on making the upgrade extremely cheap or even free for current Windows users.

Although Windows Blue is a dramatic departure from the tradional Windows release cycle, it does make a lot of sense. While previous versions of Windows were tasked with simply maintaining or improving Microsoft’s dominance in the PC market, Windows 8 has the additional burden of making Microsoft competitive in the tablet segment, where it is a late-entrant and an underdog. Without rapid iterations, it will be virtually impossible for Microsoft to remain competitive with Android and iOS, both of which offer free, annual upgrades.

Windows 8 is Not the New Vista, 40 Million Licenses Sold

Windows-8Recently, the blogosphere was abuzz with reports that Microsoft’s Windows 8 was a dud, as it had failed to meet projections. While there might have been some truth in those stories, the reports of Windows 8’s doom were undoubtedly greatly exaggerated. Tami Reller, corporate vice president for Windows, has revealed the actual sales figured for Windows 8, and they aren’t all that bad.

According to Reller, Microsoft has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses so far. It’s not clear if Microsoft is reporting the number of units sold to end-users or the number of units shipped to retailers. The latter figure is almost always bloated, since it includes units sitting in the shelves waiting to be sold.

To put things into perspective, Windows 7 sold 60 million copies during the first ten weeks. So, Windows 8 is selling at least as well as (if not better than) Windows 7. Considering that Windows 7 was the fastest selling Windows in the history, this is hardly a bad performance. The sales figures look even better if you consider that Windows 7 was coming off the back of Vista, which was widely considered a flop. Even when Windows 7 was released, most of the people were using Windows XP, which was nearing its end of life. Consumers as well as enterprises were eager to upgrade to a newer, better operating system. Windows 8 doesn’t quite have the same advantage. On the other hand, Windows 8 has benefited from the extremely tempting upgrade offers ($39.99 for Windows 8 Pro). Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8 is indeed outpacing Windows 7 in terms of upgrades.

Windows 8 represents a bold new direction for Microsoft. It not only has to maintain Microsoft’s dominance in the PC segment, but it also has to shoulder the responsibility of making Microsoft competitive in the post-PC segment. Microsoft badly needs Windows 8 to succeed. According to Paul Thurrott, Windows 8’s initial sales figures are well below internal estimates. Microsoft believes that Windows 8 would have sold even better if its OEM partners had more high quality hardware on offer, and it is probably right. Although a number of Windows 8 powered tablets, ultrabooks, and laptops have been announced by various manufacturers, most stores across the US are yet to stock them. However, the good news is that even if Windows 8 isn’t setting the market on fire, it is doing fairly well. It’s not the new Vista as many had feared it would be.

LG Optimus Vu P895 Review

Samsung’s original Note singlehandedly created the segment of smartphones that is commonly referred to as Phablet. These are devices that are larger than most conventional phones, but smaller than tablets. I have never been a big fan of phablets. They are essentially compromise devices – too large to be conveniently used as a phone, yet too small to confer the multimedia benefits of a tablet. I found the original Note to be simply a bloated version of the S2. However, clearly, a large section of the populace didn’t mind the giant screen, as the original Note sold quite well. The recently introduced Note 2 has been doing even better – selling more than three million units in less than a month.

Now, other manufactures are also getting in on the act, and last month, LG introduced its first phablet – the Optimus Vu P895 in India. Soon Kwon – MD of LG India, believes that the Vu has everything that the competition fails to offer. I used the Vu as my primary device for the better half of the past week to find out if it lives up to the promise.

Appearance

LG-Optimus-Vu-Front

Even though LG’s 2012 series of smartphones have been a bit all over the place in terms of overall quality, one thing they have consistently delivered on is design. The Optimus Vu is no exception. It is exceedingly thin (8.5 mm), and feels solidly constructed. There’s a lot of plastic, but it doesn’t feel cheap and flimsy. I have been a fan of LG’s bold rectangular design principle, and the Vu holds onto much of what I liked about the Optimus 4X. The matte finish of the back cover makes the Vu easier to grip, and the sliding door covering the micro-USB port is a nice touch. However, the most striking feature of the Optimus Vu is just wide it is. At 90.4 mm, the Optimus Vu is about a centimeter wider than the Note 2. The extra width means that unless you have a really big hand, you are going to have a hard time gripping the Vu. I found it extremely uncomfortable (almost painful) to hold the Vu during long conversations. Thankfully, in spite of the bulk, the Vu is fairly light, weighing just 168 grams.

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LG Optimus Vu next to a Galaxy SIII and an One X

LG has utilized the extra width to pack in a couple of additional buttons. At the top left there is an additional button that triggers the QuickMemo app. At the bottom, there is an additional capacitive button for launching the new Android task switcher. Both of these are non-essential additions, but are nice to have.

LG-Optimus-Vu-Back

LG could have slimmed down the Vu a bit more by shrinking the rather wide bezels. However, the extra bezel space has eliminated the accidental button press problem that I encountered in the Optimus 4X.

Display

The Vu features a 5’’ HD-IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 1024-by-768 pixels. LG claims that the PC-like 4:3 aspect ratio is ‘perfect for multitasking’. I will take a closer look to see if that claim has any substance in the Software section of this review. The screen is bright and offers good outdoor visibility with excellent viewing angles. It’s not as vibrant as the Note 2’s or One X’s display, but doesn’t appear washed out like some of the other LG displays.

Hardware

The Optimus Vu ships with a Quad-core 1.5 GHz Tegra 3 processor and 1 GB RAM. Performance-wise it’s very similar to the Optimus 4X. It scored 11593 in AnTuTu, 2749 in AnTuTu 3D, and 4411 in Quadrant. These scores mean that the Vu is significantly faster than the original Note, but is handsomely beaten by the likes of Note 2 and Optimus G. In real life, the Optimus Vu’s performance offered little reason for complaint. Whether I was browsing through the gallery, surfing JavaScript intensive websites, or playing Nova 3, the Vu didn’t miss a beat.

The Optimus Vu ships with a 5.5’’ Rubberdium stylus. Vu’s stylus falls somewhere between the original Note’s and the Note 2’s stylus. It’s thicker than most styluses, but not as think as the new S Pen, which can be actually gripped like a pen. Since, the Vu needs to be used with two hands anyway, it’s a smart move to include a stylus. Unfortunately, all the benefits that the stylus could have offered is rendered moot by sheer stupidity. LG has thrown in a stylus, but the phone itself doesn’t have any slot for storing the stylus. Instead, you have to actually carry around the stylus in your pocket. This is of course a major annoyance. I already almost lost the stylus once, and after a couple of days, I simply stopped carrying around the stylus. Samsung on the other hand, not only provides a mechanism to store the stylus, but actually reminds you if you forget to tuck your stylus into the phone before walking away. The second sore point is that the Optimus Vu stylus is not pressure sensitive. The S Pen stylus for the Note 2, on the other hand, can differentiate between 1024 pressure levels. So, the Vu stylus can only be used as a pointing device or for scribbling. Don’t think about drawing or doodling with it. The final and the biggest point of annoyance is that you can actually tap on the capacitive buttons with the stylus. So, while using the stylus, you will have to consistently toggle between using your finger and the stylus. The stylus really seems to be something that LG tucked on to the Vu at the last moment for namesake.

Software

LG-Optimus-Vu-Home-Screen

The Optimus Vu ships with Android 4.0.4, and is slated to get Android 4.1 (Jellybean) in first quarter of next year. No word on whether it will receive Android 4.2 or not. There is the customary LG Optimus UX running on top of stock ICS. While some aspects of the Optimus UX – like its overuse of bright colors – are annoying, there are plenty of thoughtful additions. LG has a TouchWiz like scrollable notification bar, but unlike in TouchWiz, it’s completely customizable. In fact, customizability is one of the strongest points of Optimus UX. For example, everything about the lock screen can be changed including how the clock looks or what shortcuts appear in the dock.

LG-Optimus-Vu-Notification-Quick-Settings

LG’s QuickMemo, which we earlier saw in the 4X and the L-series handsets, has made it to the Vu too. It is essentially an enhanced note taking app that is now accessible through its dedicated physical button. You can annotate presentations, documents, webpages, and just about anything with QuickMemo. You can save your memos for later reference or share them with your contacts.

In addition to QuickMemo, LG has added another note taking app called Notebook. In fact, all QuickMemos go into a single folder inside the Notebook. The Notebook allows you to create elaborate notes with images, drawings, and text. Other bundled apps include a backup tool, a news reader, Polaris office, and a video editor called Video Wiz.

LG-Optimus-Vu-Notebook-Handwriting

One aspect of the Vu where LG has put in a lot of thought and effort is the keyboard. The keyboard has four distinct modes – a classic feature phone layout (that I am sure no one will use), QWERTY layout for tap typing, QWERTY layout for Swype style shape writing, and a handwriting recognition mode. Normally, typing with single hand is impossible on the Vu. However, the keyboard has a special singlehanded typing mode that can be triggered via convenient gestures. When in this mode, the keyboard automatically shrinks and sticks to one edge of the screen (left or right). Although, I found the stylus to be pretty unusable in its current form, I did give handwriting recognition a fair spin and came away impressed. It was able to pick up my shabby handwriting with surprising amount of accuracy. Not only is the recognition engine accurate, but also quite fast. It’s a pity that the stylus is so unusable. The only complaint that I have is that most keyboard settings are buried several levels deep in the Android interface.

LG-Optimus-Vu-Keyboard-Modes

LG claims that the 4:3 interface is best for multitasking. After taking the Vu for a spin, I can’t say that I am convinced. LG might be onto something, but the Vu’s software fails to drive that point home. In fact, the Note 2 with its multi-window multi-tasking is a lot more productive. Even, QSlide from Optimus G with added support for streaming videos, would have been quite handy. However, with the standard interface, I don’t see how the Vu is better suited for multitasking than any of the other current generation smartphones. In fact, the 4:3 aspect ratio has a negative impact on the multimedia experience, since almost all video content is in widescreen aspect ratios. Some apps like Subway Surfer also have a problem with the Vu’s resolution and need to be scaled. The only aspect where the Vu really benefits from its resolution is web browsing in portrait mode.

LG-Optimus-Vu-Width

Multimedia

LG Optimus Vu P895 ships with an 8 megapixel camera, which may not be the best mobile camera in the market, but produces good quality images and acceptable videos. Its weakest point is low light capture, where it performs significantly worse than the S3. However, under proper lighting conditions, the Vu takes well balanced, detailed images. The algorithm that LG is using is really smart and manages to get the settings bang on in most cases. In keeping with Optimus UX’s focus on customizability, the camera interface is also adjustable. The usual features including panorama, HDR, and burst modes are present. The Vu lacks an option for macro-focusing. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that the Vu can’t take close up pics. The auto-mode is really good at figuring out when you want to use macro mode. The camera app’s biggest draw is ‘Time Catch Shot’, which we first saw in the Optimus 4X. When you enable this feature, the Vu captures five shots in a quick succession, including shots from moments before you clicked on the shoot button, from which you can select and keep the best shot. With Time Catch, even if you are too late or too early with the shoot button, you can still capture the moment you wanted. Another gimmicky feature called Cheese shot captures the pic when you say ‘cheese’.

LG-Optimus-Vu-Camera-Sample-Landscape
LG Optimus Vu Camera Sample: Landscape
LG-Optimus-Vu-Camera-Sample-HDR
LG Optimus Vu Camera Sample: HDR
LG-Optimus-Vu-Camera-Sample-Macro
LG Optimus Vu Camera Sample: Macro

The Vu shoots videos at 1080p with 30 frames per second. LG has thrown in a couple of interesting video effects. You can remove the video background and instead use a disco, sunset, or space background. You can also pick a video from your own library to use as a background. Be warned though, in order for this feature to work, your background needs to be stationary and the phone needs to be extremely stable. You also have bunch of face wrap options for playing with your friends.

The video player in Vu boasts of all the excellent enhancements we saw in the Optimus 4X. They are –

  • Fingertip seek, which shows a YouTube like preview of the frame you are about to jump to while seeking.
  • Speed controller, which allows you to slow down or speed up the video on the fly.
  • Split-Screen view, which allows you to quickly browse through your library.
  • Pinch-to-zoom, which allows you to zoom into any video you are watching. While this is not something that you will use regularly, it is a nice to have enhancement.

Others

LG Optimus Vu features a number of connectivity options including NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, and Bluetooth 4.0. Like Sony, LG includes a couple of NFC Tags called Tag+, which can be used to automatically change your phone’s settings to a preset mode. These tags can be configured with the companion Android app.

The Optimus Vu includes a 2080 mAh non-user replaceable battery. This can be a real headache, given that the Vu doesn’t really last all that long. I only got about nine hours with moderate usage on 3G. This is unacceptable for a phablet, since its strong point is supposed to be watching videos and surfing the web. The Note 2 on the other hand comes with a 3100 mAh battery.

LG has also opted to not include an expandable memory slot. However, this is unlikely to be a major problem for most users, given that Vu ships with 32 GB of internal storage.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the beginning, I am not a big fan of phablets, and the Vu did nothing to change that. However, if I keep my preferences aside, then I must admit that the Vu is an interesting device. It certainly has a lot going for itself. It’s fast, well designed, sports a good camera and a feature-packed video player. It also makes a few mistakes. Unfortunately for LG, the Vu’s oversights are really big, and they end up hurting what would have otherwise been an excellent product.

I tried really hard to understand why LG would go for a 4:3 screen, but failed to come up with anything concrete. My takeaway is that with this odd proportion, LG has sacrificed too much to gain too little. The next slipup is with the Stylus. In fact, LG gets the stylus so wrong that you should pretty much ignore it all together. You are unlikely to be using it a lot. And, even if you want to use it, you will probably lose it very quickly. My final grudge is with the battery. If you are going to make the battery non user replaceable, you better make sure that it has enough juice to last a day.

When I began to use the Vu, I really liked the device. Yes, it was too big, but it had a nice display, was really smooth and fast, had a nice speaker, and took great snaps. Unfortunately, the poor battery subconsciously affected how I used the Vu. I started watching YouTube less frequently as I was afraid that I would run out of battery before I reached home. This is a real pity, because the Vu had a lot of promise. It’s sensibly priced and can currently be picked up for Rs. 30,000. Yes, it costs the same as Samsung’s previous generation Note. And, that’s the biggest redeeming factor for the Vu. On the whole, the Vu fails to live up to Mr. Kwon’s promise. It simply can’t compete against the Note 2. However, it’s also significantly cheaper. If you want the best phablet that money can buy, you should get the Note 2. However, if you want something cheaper, take a long and hard look at both the Note and the Vu. If you can live with Vu’s odd proportion, and don’t mind carrying your charger around, it might make sense for you to go for the Vu instead of the Note. It’s hardware is a generation ahead of the Note. Otherwise, the Vu might end up frustrating you.

Panasonic Launches Windows 8 Powered Convertible Notebook for Outdoor Use

It has been barely a couple of weeks since Windows 8 was launched; however, we already have quite a few convertible Windows 8 laptops that can double up as tablets. Panasonic has just thrown its hat into the fray with the Toughbook CF-C2. However, unlike other OEMs, Panasonic isn’t really gunning for the consumer market.

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The Toughbook CF-C2 is a niche product that is designed as a work device. Panasonic describes its convertible notebook as ideal for professionals like field and service engineers, and healthcare workers. It believes that the CF-C2 can easily deal with the knocks and scrapes of a busy mobile workers day, and can withstand drops of up to 76cm (6angles). It comes with a water resistant keyboard and touchpad and strengthened glass on the LCD. The 12.5” HD IPS display is advertised to have excellent outdoor visibility and wide viewing angles. The display is capable of recognizing up to 5 simultaneous touches. The Toughbook is powered by Intel Core i5-3427U vPro, and ships with 4 GB RAM (extendable to 8 GB). For imaging needs, you have high definition (720p) front camera, with an optional HD rear cam. Business’ can optionally add modem, VGA port, and serial port to increase compatibility with legacy devices. Connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, Wireless LAN a/b/g/n and optional Sierra MC8305 3G module.

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The Panasonic Toughbook CF-C2 Is obviously not for everyone. However, business users seeking a flexible and powerful rugged laptop for outdoor use can purchase the CF-C2 starting January 2013. The base model will cost Rs. 1 lakh without taxes in India.

Angry Birds Star Wars Released for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, PC, and Mac

After teasing us for several weeks, Rovio has finally released Angry Birds Star Wars. Angry Birds Star Wars is a peculiar mashup of one of the most popular movie franchises of all time with one of biggest gaming franchises of the recent past.

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Angry Birds Star Wars features gameplay elements from both classical Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space, but pushes both of them to the next level. Your favorite birds have been re-dressed keeping in mind the Star Wars universe and can now emit force fields, wield light-sabers, and shoot bullets.

As always, there are plenty of varied levels to keep you hooked. Rovio promises more than 80 levels in various Star Wars inspired locations like Tatooine and the Pig Star. To conquer these levels, you will have to dodge Imperial pigs, laser turrets, Tusken Raider pigs, and the dark side of the Force.

Angry Birds Star Wars costs $0.99 on iOS for the iPhone version and $2.99 for the iPad version. The Android version is free, but has advertisements. If you want to get rid of the ads, you can get rid of them through $0.99 in-app purchase. Interestingly enough, Rovio is also offering something called Angry Birds Star Wars HD for $2.99, which looks just like the other Android version sans the ads. Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 editions can be purchased from respective Stores for $4.99. It is also available on PC for $4.95, and on Mac for $4.99.

[ Download Angry Birds Star Wars ]

Pre-Order Google Nexus 4 in India for Rs. 23,490

LG India’s head of mobile product planning Amit Gujral had earlier revealed that LG will introduce the Nexus 4 in the country by the end of November. Since then, LG Electronics India has remained tight lipped about its plans regarding the new Nexus smartphone. However, thanks to an eBay, the Nexus 4 is already available for pre-order in India.

Nexus 4 is Google’s newest flagship, which was manufactured in partnership with LG. It runs on vanilla Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon(TM) S4 Pro quad-core processor, and flaunts a 4.7″ WXGA IPS display with 1280 x 768 pixel resolution (320 ppi).

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Ebay seller cart2india2010 is accepting pre-orders on unlocked Nexus 4 handsets in India. The seller will be importing Nexus 4 handsets, which have been presumably purchased through Google Play store in the US. The Nexus 4 is available through Google for $299 for the 8 GB model, and $349 for the 16 GB model. However, in several European countries, LG is selling the handset for €599 (about $762). Since, Google Play store is not available in India, it’s most likely that only LG will be selling the Nexus 4. If that happens, we expect the price of to be in the range of Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 40,000 depending upon the model you chose.

Ebay’s cart2india2010 offers a tempting alternative through its imported handsets. The current pre-order price is Rs. 23,490 for the 8 GB model and Rs. 27,490 for the 16 GB model. Unless, Google comes in and subsidizes its latest flagship, Indians are unlikely to get it for anywhere near the price that cart2india2010 is offering. However, since cart2india2010 will only begin shipping the devices after December 10, it might make sense to wait till the end of November for the official announcement.

[ Pre-order Google Nexus 4 ]