Category Archives: Featured Articles

The featured articles at Techie Buzz

Google Play Music Celebrating the Phonograph with $2.99 Albums

Google Play is running an interesting promotion right now. Pictured below, you can see a few famous album covers pictured with the heading “50 Classic Albums From $2.99″. They say they are celebrating “Edison’s Invention”.

50-albums

When you click on their link, it will take you to a page with some pretty famous albums that you’ll recognize right away. Curiously however, if you look at the picture below, they have the top of their page labeled with “The Phonograph’s Birthday”. I am not sure where they are getting their information. Wikipedia refers to Edison’s phonograph being invented between May and July 1877. About.com makes mention of August 12, 1877 as being the potential invention date but also says there is some skepticism about it. Whatever the case, Edison came up with a really cool idea and one worth celebrating.

Phonograph's Birthday

It seems to be a pretty eclectic selection of albums and most of them are going for $2.99. However, be aware there are a few that are a little more expensive. Janis Joplin’s “Pearl” is going for $4.99 as well as, Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when the Google Play team went about selecting what they refer to as the “50 Vinyl-Era Classics”. Pink Floyd’s the “Dark Side of the Moon” album is a no brainer in my opinion, but Jethro Tull??? Hmmm… not so sure about this one.

So what do you think? For me, I can’t help but wonder where is AC/DC, or Black Sabbath? Go take a look at the albums and tell me what you think would be worthy of your all time vinyl-era classics.

[Editorial] What Is Wrong With HTC?

Extremely long post ahead. Please make sure your stomach is full, and your bladder empty before continuing further. Skip the tl;dr if you are brave enough!

tl;dr – HTC started making similar phones, locked bootloaders, made its skin too bloated and slapped the Beats Audio branding as a gimmick. Made lots of promises in 2012 with One series, but they all turned out to be a dud. To save their ass, they need to fulfil their promises and support the Android modding community.

HTC was the first handset manufacturer to release an Android running phone, the T-Mobile G1. Both, HTC and Android have grown to great heights within a short span of time, and have complemented each other’s growth. Without HTC, Android might not have ever taken off. Without Android, HTC would have been still known for making Windows Mobile based phones and its Sense skin.

However, over the last 1.5 years or so, HTC’s growth has slowed down tremendously while Android has continued to grow and has grabbed nearly 50% of the world mobile OS market share. So how is it that a company that helped an OS grow, is suddenly struggling with its profits and market share shrinking with every passing quarter, when the OS in itself is reaching new heights?

No, it’s not Samsung that is to be blamed for HTC’s falling market share here. HTC is itself responsible for its own demise.

In 2010, the company released some iconic handsets like the Sprint EVO 4G, Desire, and the Desire HD.

In 2011, when the company’s fortune changed for the worse, it released more than 15 different handsets all that were hardly different from each other. At MWC in 2011, which is arguably the biggest mobile tech event of the year, the company unveiled three single core phones – Incredible S, Desire S and the Wildfire S. The first two handsets had the exact same internals, except for some minor differences, which in turn had the same internals as the 2010 high-end phone from HTC — the Desire HD.

Yes, these phones looked different, had different resolution cameras, and a few other differences, but they were ultimately powered by the same 1GHz single-core processor and packed the same amount of RAM. The worst part was that these phones were priced way too close to each other to make any sense. The Desire HD retailed for around the 30k mark in India in 2010, while the Incredible S and Desire S costed 28k and 25k respectively when launched in India in early 2011. The Galaxy S2, which Samsung had also announced at MWC, was also priced around the 30k mark, and was much better than these handsets from HTC.

Then in March, HTC announced its first dual-core phone, the HTC Sensation. On paper, the Sensation looked like a decent competitor to the Galaxy S2, with a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 processor, 768MB of RAM, an 8MP camera and a qHD (960*640) resolution screen.

Sadly, HTC’s greatest advantage — Sense — turned out to be its biggest disadvantage in the Sensation. The Sense 3.0 skin from HTC was way too bloated, and even lagged on a dual-core powered smartphone, which was downright unacceptable. Random reboots, poor battery life, and a sub-par camera were other serious issues with the phone, that did not go down well with the few Sensation users.

Adding salt on the wound of the original Sensation owners, was the Sensation XE, that the company released just a couple of months later on. The Sensation XE packed similar internals to the original Sensation, except for a slightly faster 1.5GHz processor, a much better 8MP camera, a Beats Audio logo and a beefier battery.

As 2011 progressed, HTC kept on releasing phones that made little sense. The Sensation XL had a big 4.7-inch screen but was powered by a single core processor and was priced higher than the Sensation and Sensation XE, which was downright stupid. The HTC Rhyme, Amaze 4G, Vivid, Hero S, and the Raider 4G are other phones that the company should have never released.

By releasing so many phones that barely had any difference, HTC confused its potential customers who ultimately brought a Galaxy S II or other Galaxy branded phone from Samsung.

Beats Audio Filled Non-Sense And Broken Promises

In a pre-Android 4.0 world, HTC’s Sense skin was considered to be the best OEM Android skin out there. However, in 2010, HTC made its biggest advantage its biggest weakness as well. The Sense 3.0 skin from the company looked downright jaw-dropping beautiful, but it was slow and was just too bloated. Even in 2012, it is not uncommon to see the HTC’s Sense launcher — Rosie — restart itself after a session of gaming.

HTC loyalists and quite a lot of other people still preferred HTC’s Sense skin over Samsung’s childish and ugly TouchWIZ. Most people would just install a de-bloated Sense based custom ROM and be happy with their phone.

Then, in late 2011, Google announced Ice Cream Sandwich, that completely over-hauled the look of Android OS. Stock Android in itself looked beautiful now, and there was no need for OEM customisations. However, OEMs needed skins to differentiate their Android handsets from each other, and thus continued with their skins.

In 2012, HTC finally realised its mistake of releasing so many handsets and unveiled the ‘One’ series of phones. The One X and One S have a build quality to die for, power packed internals, decent camera and battery life and sufficient storage space. The company also de-bloated Sense 4.0 and made it much lighter.

Once again, things looked good on paper for HTC and it looked like that the Taiwanese maker finally had an answer to Samsung’s Galaxy series. The One X sold like hot cakes when it was initially released, but soon people realised that not all is well with the phone. HTC may have made Sense 4.0 lighter than before, but the skin was still a resource hogger. HTC had also tweaked broke the multi-tasking on the One X to optimise battery life.

While I completely understand OEM skins are very-much needed to differentiate handsets, they should add some useful features instead of adding some useless gimmicky features.

There was no sign of the Holo inspired Magazine style swipe UI in Sense 4.0. The company even removed the stock Android 4.0 animations to include its own, which made little sense. With Android apps themselves using the Holo theme with Swipe gestures, the lack of the Holo theme and swipe gestures in Sense 4.0 was downright stupid from HTC. If anything this will create more confusion among users and lead to UI inconsistency, and ultimately give Android a bad name.

HTC, and even Samsung, should learn from Sony and Motorola on UI skinning. Sony’s skin adds some much needed features to core Android, without going over-board. Motorola has also done an excellent job with its skin with the ICS update for the RAZR. The company has changed the icons and add some tweaks but has otherwise left the Holo theme on ICS untouched.

HTC had also invested heavily in Beats Audio and started branding its phones with the Beats Audio logo. The Sensation XE was the first phone from HTC to carry the Beats Audio logo, but at that time Beats Audio was nothing more than a software tweak.

In 2012, it was expected that HTC will release phones that live up to the Beats Audio branding. Things however, took turn for the worse. The international One X carried the Beats Audio logo, but the sound quality of the phone was pathetic to put it politely. The Beats Audio feature still remained nothing but a software tweak that only boosted bass and did nothing else.

HTC’s promise of the ‘One’ brand was also broken with the release of the EVO 4G LTE on the Sprint network and the Droid Incredible 4G LTE on Verizon’s.

On the other hand, Samsung managed to release the Galaxy S III on all the major carriers of the United States without any modifications in design, name or software thus maintained the ‘Galaxy S’ brand. Oh! and while the International Samsung Galaxy S III does not come with the Beats Audio logo or anything similar, it does come with a Wolfson DAC that provides an excellent audio quality.

They Locked It!

Until 2010, HTC handsets were the favorite of the Android modding community. CM and other AOSP based ROMs were always available for all HTC handsets within weeks of the release of the handset. In 2011, HTC started locking bootloaders on its handsets starting with the Thunderbolt. This unexpected move from HTC definitely shocked the whole Android community. The whole Android community took a stand against this with numerous petitions, but HTC turned a deaf ear to them. It was only when the company’s handset sale stared falling that the company realized its mistake and promised to release a bootloader unlocking tool for its handsets, which the company soon did.

Once again, things looked good on paper but were not in real life. HTC’s bootloader unlocking tool only did its job partially and did not provide true S-OFF, making the rooting process of their phones much more complex. All this did not go down well with the Android community and they started recommending Samsung’s Galaxy series of phones over HTC phones to normal users.

How Can HTC Rescue Themselves?

Fulfill all your promises. Don’t use the Beats Audio for just marketing, deliver brilliant music quality from your phone as well. Tone down Sense. Yes, you already did that with Sense 4.0 and 4.1, but you need to tone it down even more. Use Sense to add some useful features to your phones. Follow the rule of Don’t fix it if it hasn’t broken. Provide developers with full S-OFF, and for God’s sake don’t release a XL or XL+ model, which as rumors suggest you are going to do with the One X.

Google’s Self-Driving Cars Log Big Miles

Google’s self-driving cars have reached a new milestone. According to their official blog, their fleet of self-driving cars have logged more than 300,000 miles of testing. Google began this project back in 2010 to “help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use”. The World Health Organization, at the time this project was introduced, announced a staggering statistic that 1.2 million lives are lost due to traffic accidents. This has been one of the driving factors behind Google developing a safer way to travel.

google-car
The newest member of the Google Car team, the Lexus RX450h (Courtesy Google Blog)

Not only has Google logged more than 300,000 miles on their computer controlled cars, not one accident has occurred under computer control. While Google is proud of this accomplishment, they admit they have a long road ahead of them. “To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter.” This sounds like a pretty tall order considering most humans don’t even handle these situations very well.

The next phase for the Google car is to let the driving team go solo rather than in pairs. Up to this point, there has been one team member ready to take the wheel just in case of problems, while the other team member managed the car’s software applications. Moving to just one team member pushes the development of the Google car that much closer to the average commuter. “One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars.” I guess this means you’ll be able to put on your makeup on the way to work without fear of being in a wreck, or maybe finish up that last minute report while your Google car gets you where you’re going.

Pictured above, you can see the new Lexus RX450h that Google has recently added to its fleet of self-driving cars. “With each breakthrough we feel more optimistic about delivering this technology to people and dramatically improving their driving experience.” I just hope one day I can get an extra nap in on my way to work in the morning. Happy driving!

Watch the 2012 London Olympics Online

London 2012 Olympics Clock
London 2012 Olympics Clock (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The countdown is just about over and the Olympics are about to get into full swing. Opportunities for watching the Olympics this year are better than ever. As a matter of fact, you would almost have to try to miss the Olympics this year as there are so many ways to view it.

NBC has created a comprehensive website with all of the information you could possibly want out of the Olympics. Unfortunately, NBC has decided that anyone wanting to use their service to watch the Olympics online will have to verify that they are a TV customer of a cable or satellite customer. So if you’ve ditched your TV service recently, you’re out of luck. However, if you are a cable or satellite customer and want to watch the Olympics at work, then go to http://www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra and get signed up.

The real news appears to be coming out of London itself. BBC is making an unprecedented move to broadcast  up to 24 live HD streams online. They are boasting 2,500 hours of broadcast time across multiple platforms. To visit their Olympic coverage online go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will also be providing streaming video, via its YouTube Channel, to 64 territories. According to their press release,

The live-streaming on the IOC’s YouTube channel will provide exclusive digital access to the London 2012 Olympic Games in territories where digital broadcast rights have not already been acquired by the IOC’s broadcast partners:

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Bhutan, Cambodia, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

And in 42 Sub-Saharan African territories on a non-exclusive basis, including:

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

If you’re an Olympics junkie, then this is the year for you. If not, I am not sure where you’ll be able to hide from all the madness. Don’t forget that there are mobile apps available in just about any flavor. Read more about those at Mobiles Apps for Olympics 2012 page.

Google Doodle July 4th 2012

Google Fourth of July Doodle

Today, Google commemorated Independence Day in the U.S. with a whimsical red, white, and blue doodle, pictured above. Inside the letters of the doodle are the lyrics to a famous American folk song “This Land is Your Land”. Written by American folk singer, Woody Guthrie, the song describes scenes of America. Though many people today may not realize the song was a bit of a protest by Guthrie at the time, as he was sympathetic to communist causes. Wikipedia has a nice article about the song and information about little known verses that we seldom hear of today. The link can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Land_Is_Your_Land.

Google also took the initiative to post a link at the bottom of their website. Notice in the picture above, a link is circled in red. If you click that link, you will see a plea from Google to support a free and open internet. The internet is truly one of the last frontiers of freedom and governments and corporations alike, are doing all they can to censor it, control it, and quell the freedom of ideas that spread across it. Is the internet perfect? Absolutely not! To me that is just a reflection of those who use the internet, humans. We are not perfect so why would the internet reflect otherwise. There are grumbling even in the U.S. government and legislation is being written that threatens greatly the freedom we have on the internet. Google would like you to take action at this link https://www.google.com/takeaction/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=hpp&utm_campaign=07042012takeactionhpp. They also have a flag that they have asked everyone to download with voices from history and today. It is free to download. Below is a video they posted as well.

Independence Day is a national holiday in the U.S. which celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Thirteen colonies lifted their voices and declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. It was a bold step for the fledgling country and one that is celebrated nationwide every July 4th. Our country is merely a baby when compared with the ages of nations that surround us. I think it would do all of us well to take note of the Declaration of Independence. Spend a few minutes of this day and read what was on the hearts and minds of people a couple of centuries ago. You can find the transcript at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html. Happy 4th of July everyone! May it be a safe, joyful occasion, and may freedom ring in the hearts of everyone today.

Meet the Eggasus: Personal Electric Vehicle of the Future is Now

It’s stylish, quiet, environmentally friendly, and innovative, but is the Eggasus everything it’s cracked up to be? The mysterious egg-shaped vehicle is set to be launched sometime this fall.

Eggasus

As it stands, very little is known about this eco-friendly car or the people who have designed it. On their website, www.eggasus.com, they claim they have been in the prototype and “specialty gas and electric vehicles for over 25 years”. The mission of the Eggasus designers is simple which is “to create a vehicle for the future today. Zero emission with an eye catching, out-of-this-world design, Eggasus moves you quietly from place to place or building to building in an all-weather enclosure.”

The Eggasus is a personal transporter with a futuristic design. It is meant to be used in congested urban areas, campuses, and as a rolling billboard. It’s basically a 3 wheel scooter with an enclosure around it to protect the driver from the elements. It was a finalist in the “Manufacturing & High Tech” section of the Sierra Nevada Innovation Challenge, which is hosted by Innovate North State, a public/private partnership to build economic development for rural northern California. In the challenge, competitors had six minutes to convince the judges of their particular genre why their product will revolutionize the industry. Below, is a short embedded video showing off the “eggs”traordinary vehicle.

The Eggasus team has decided to fund their project using the social media route. They have posted a $50,000 goal on Indiegogo. You can help fund them at http://www.indiegogo.com/eggasus?c=home. The vehicle appears to be going for a starting price of around $5000. To be honest, it is hard for me to get real “eggs”cited about Eggasus because there are so many questions left unanswered. Hopefully, they will get more specifications about the vehicle posted on their website soon.

Editorial: Does Anyone Understand IT In the Small Business?

Every day I am inundated with phone calls and emails from companies offering me the greatest solution IT has ever known. To be honest, I have almost stopped answering my phone when I don’t recognize the number, primarily because it’s a bit embarrassing when the sales person on the line is offering me a solution to a problem that, as a small business IT manager, I could only dream of. They immediately begin rattling off technical buzz words which I am sure are meant to impress me into thinking that they know what they are talking about, but I have to say, most of the time, they leave me thinking they have absolutely no idea what I through on a daily basis. Did they even bother to research my industry? Most electrical contractors the size of the company I work for don’t even have an IT person. It always tickles me a little when some poor guy, who I know just recently graduated with his MBA, wants to reach out and talk business on my level. Yeah man, let’s talk white papers and return on investment. Even better let’s use words like deduplication and virtualization! I love talking about stuff like that (sarcasm font needed here). I don’t want to name names but you big time companies out there with all your solutions have no idea what small business IT needs. So let me give you a few pointers and maybe, just maybe that burned out IT manager might start answering your calls.

Frustrated Man

Building a Relationship Still Matters

One of the biggest frustrations I had early on in my stint as an IT manager was with a major online computer sales outlet. There I had “a guy”. I liked this guy. This guy listened to me and to what I had to say. He called me about once a week and genuinely built a relationship with me. He knew that I didn’t have a budget. He knew there was no such thing as a 3 year rotation on desktop rollouts. For you big time CIO’s reading this article, I will wait a second for you to pick yourself up off the floor. I know that had to be hard on you. Anyway, he understood we couldn’t do 20 thousand dollars a year in desktops. Then, out of the blue, my “guy” writes me a note introducing me to a new “guy” and he goes riding off into the sunset never to be heard from again. This next guy is pretty cool. He seemed to catch on pretty quickly but his calls were less frequent and when he did call, there was more a focus on some new promotion that they had going. Most of the time the promotions were well out of the scope of reality. It was long at all before he’s introducing me to another “guy” to manage my account. I quickly realized that this company charged a premium price for all these “guys”. I am sure for the enterprise customer, these “guys” come in real handy, but to me they were just added cost. I could go online and find exactly what I needed at a much cheaper price. You see, the relationship was gone. Understand something, small business people are all about “people”. We live and die by relationships. We have to be mindful of what we say and add value to our services to compete with the big boys. You big companies with your sales forces and constant promotions and moving around employees to squeeze out new numbers need to understand that frustrates the customer on the other end.

Don’t get me wrong, the online retailers aren’t the only ones who don’t get relationships. The telecom industry is completely out of touch with small business. We use a cloud based IP telephone system and quite frankly, because of the relationship I have with their people, have found them to be very helpful. About twice a year, I will get someone from the big telco companies call on me. These guys are really sharp. They come in all fancy dressed and sharp tongued and just immediately tear down the company I am currently using. In about a 30 minute conversation they are ready to get back to their office and whip me out a quote that they know will just dazzle me. They call the next day beside themselves that I haven’t signed the contract over to them. Seriously??? Do they honestly think I trust them? Am I confident that they will handle the transition to their service with care? Hey you guys realize we’ve used your customer service from our homes, you know the ones with endless phone prompts that may or may not get you where you need to be? Am I going to turn the life blood of my business over to you after a 30 minute conversation? No! As for cell phone companies, they disgust me so bad I am not sure I even want to go there. I am not sure they even have decent enterprise solutions, much less small business.

Is Google’s Memorial Day Logo a Joke?

Is Google’s Memorial Day logo a joke, or is it a true representation of how Google feels toward the contribution of those Americans who gave their lives in defense of this country? While I understand that we have an international audience that may not feel as offended by such a trespass, I have to take a moment and expose Google for this pathetic display of tribute to the very men and women who gave them the opportunity to become the behemoth they are now. Take a moment and feast your eyes on the fascinating piece of work that Google decided to use as the front page tribute to Memorial Day, pictured below.

Memorial Day 2012

No my friends, your eyes do not deceive you. That is about a 50 pixel square that shows “Memorial Day 2012″ when you put your mouse over it. It doesn’t even take you anywhere when you click it! Just a pathetic graphic that you can barely make out at the bottom of the page. It looks like clip artwork a 3rd grader would do. So this begs the question, “what is the meaning of such a pitiful display?” Honestly, I can only make assumptions. As someone who tries to be logical, I try not to read into things that are not clearly stated. However, considering that the inventor of the zipper received a super cool doodle with an animated zipper running down the screen, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Google’s regard for our fallen soldiers is less than its regard for a good working zipper!

Now let’s take a peek at Bing. Pictured below, you can see a screenshot of Bing’s tribute to Memorial Day.

Bing

When you click on certain areas of the picture, you are taken to a beautiful photo montage of Arlington National Cemetery. This seems a much more befitting tribute to our nation’s fallen than what was previously seen on Google’s page.

It wasn’t cappuccino sipping geeks who made this country free. It won’t be the Ivy League elite that keeps us free from tyranny in the future either. When we fail to teach the young the sacrifices of the past, we fail to protect them in the future from tyrants like Hitler. I wish more than anything that there were no need for guns and war, but the harsh reality is that there are evil people in this world. Even if you’re not American, but you are reading this in the context of freedom, take a moment and find out why it is that you are free to do so. More than likely you’ll discover that some brave group of souls sacrificed their very lives for a cause greater than themselves and for the love of theirthumb country and the people in it. Folks, that is what Memorial Day in America is all about!

Is the Internet Making You Fat?

Recently I was introduced to an interesting infographic by one of my colleagues here on Techie Buzz. This graphic, which I have embedded below, seeks to answer the question, “Does the Internet Make You Fat?” The graphic was posted on http://www.usbundles.com and was provided by http://www.centurylinkquote.com/. I found it to be informative, a little disturbing, and somewhat entertaining as well. Take a moment to look at the graphic below.

Does the Internet Make You Fat?
Courtesy http://www.centurylinkquote.com/

I certainly can’t guarantee the science behind this, but it does provide some food for thought. While the internet may not necessarily be making you fat, more and more research shows that sitting for long periods of time is not good for your body. As a matter of fact, some studies have shown that even people who workout regularly, but sit most of the day are still considered inactive. So what’s a geek to do? The answer is fairly simple. Be more active. Stand when you talk on the phone. Every hour make it a point to get out of your chair and walk. A few articles I have read even suggested using an exercise ball instead of a chair to sit on.

The internet is a great source of knowledge and can be used a good resource for health information. Just don’t over do it on the sitting. Now, can someone pass me the ice cream please?  :)

 

 

Nokia Lumia 900 vs iPhone 4S vs Galaxy Nexus vs Galaxy S2 – How Does The Best Windows Phone Stack Up Against Its Competition?

The Lumia 900 is finally up for sale in the United States, and it has already sold out in quite a few online stores. The Lumia 900 is the biggest handset launch from Nokia in the recent years in the United States, and the handset will have a key role in determining the future on WP7 and the Nokia-MS partnership.

However, how does the Lumia 900 stack up against some of the best phones up for sale today including the iPhone 4S, Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S2? Read our comparison post below to find out!

Display

The Galaxy Nexus has the biggest display among all these 4 handsets and comes with a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED HD screen with a whopping 720p screen, but has a PenTile display. The Galaxy S2 and Lumia 900 come with a 4.3-inch display with WVGA (480*800) resolution. While the Galaxy S2 uses a Super-AMOLED Plus display, the Lumia 900 has a (AMOLED) ClearBlack Display. The iPhone 4S has the smallest display among its competitors with a relatively small 3.5-inch IPS LCD display with 640*960 resolution. The iPhone 4S has the highest pixel density here with a Retina busting 326ppi, while the Galaxy Nexus comes in a second close with a ppi of 316. The Galaxy S2 and the Lumia 900 both have a disappointingly low ppi of 218.

The iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus both trump the Lumia 900 in terms of display quality as well as resolution, while the Lumia 900 manages to tie it with the Galaxy S2 display. However, considering the Lumia 900 is being released in 2012, and all of its competitors were launched in 2011, the former should have had packed in a higher resolution screen. Sadly, since Windows Phone does not support resolutions higher than WVGA, there is nothing much the OEMs can do about it, except for wait for Windows Phone 8.

Read: Galaxy S2 vs. Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S – Which is the best smartphone of 2011?

Processing Power

Except for the Lumia 900, the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4S, all have a dual-core processor. The A5 SoC used inside the iPhone 4S is an absolute beast and manages to trump every other mobile CPU + GPU combination easily. The Exynos SoC found inside the Galaxy S2 comes in second with two powerful Cortex-A9 cores running at 1.2GHz, along with an ARM Mali-400MP GPU. The Galaxy Nexus also packs in two 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 processor, and a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU, which struggles to keep up with the HD resolution on the handset.

A Qualcomm Snapdragon S2 processor clocked at 1.4GHz along with an Adreno 205 GPU powers the Lumia 900. While the OS on the handset itself runs very smooth, third party apps and browsing on the handset take a toll due to the limited CPU power.

Camera 

The iPhone 4S, Galaxy S2 and the Lumia 900 pack in an 8MP camera with an LED flash, while the Galaxy Nexus houses a 5MP camera aided by an LED flash. The 8MP snapper on the iPhone 4S can take some absolutely stunning pictures, and is a clear winner here. The Galaxy S2 and the Lumia 900 come in a close second, with the former struggling in low-light conditions quite heavily. The Galaxy Nexus with its poor, but with Instant capture feature, 5MP cam does not even stand a chance.

While the Lumia 900 may have come second in the camera shoot-out, we should not forget that the Galaxy S2 was released nearly a year ago. The Galaxy S3 is just around the corner, and chances are it will trump the Lumia 900 in camera performance easily.

Apps

While the iPhone App Store has more than 450,000+ apps, there are roughly around 300,000 apps in the Google Play Store. In comparison to this, the Windows Phone Marketplace has around 70,000+ apps. Sadly, there is a very serious lack of quality applications in the WP Marketplace. There is still no official Dropbox client available for the OS, which might be a bummer for quite a few people out there. There are still no graphically intensive games available for the OS. Most developers still prefer to launch an iOS version of their app first, followed by an Android version.

However, most developers who have released a WP7 version of their app have been seriously impressed with the SDK tools available for the platform, and actually prefer coding apps for WP rather than Android. So hopefully it is just a matter of time, and possibly few more APIs from Microsoft, before we see some quality apps hit the Windows Phone marketplace.

P.S. – I can’t comment on the battery life of the handsets since I have not used them long enough. However, I am sure the iPhone 4S will be a clear winner here just because it has a smaller screen, and lacks support for LTE networks. Lumia 900 should provide users with the same battery life as the Galaxy S2 and the Galaxy Nexus, if not worse.

Also Read: Some must have apps for the Nokia Lumia 900 and 800

Must Have IPL Apps For Android, iOS and WP7 Devices

India is without a doubt a cricket crazy nation. Even though Hockey is the official national sport of India, people hardly talk about anything other than cricket. To fuel the thirst of more cricketing action, Lalit Mode, founded IPL. Indian Premier League (IPL) is without a doubt the most awaited cricket tournament in India, after an India vs. Pakistan match.

Yesterday, the 5th season of IPL finally kicked off marking the start of nearly 40 days of pure cricketing madness. With the sheer number of matches in IPL, it might become difficult for even a die-hard cricket fan to keep a tap on the schedule, changes and results of every match.

Thankfully, quite a few Android and iOS apps have popped up on their respective market place that will aid users in staying up to date with all the latest happenings in IPL.

Below are some must have IPL apps for Android users -:

1) IPL Calendar – As the name suggests, IPL Calendar contains a detailed schedule of all the IPL games being held in its 5th season. The app also allows users to view matches of just your favorite team, and add them to your main calendar so that you never miss a match. Considering the sheer number of matches played in IPL every year, this app is definitely a must have.

2) IPL Live Streaming – Stuck in a traffic jam on your way to home, and missing a thrilling IPL match? If you have any of the latest Android handset with Flash Player installed, and access to a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, you can watch all the IPL matches on your handset for free using IPL Live Streaming. Alternatively, users can also go to YouTube.com/live and watch live matches or highlights on their handset.

3) IPL Cricket Highlights – Missed a thrilling match and want to watch it again? The IPL Cricket Highlights app will let you watch the highlights of any IPL 5 match right on your phone. The app requires access to a fast Wi-Fi or 3G connection, and make sure you have Flash Player installed on your phone.

If you own an iPhone, iPod Touch or the iPad, the IPL 5 app in the Apple AppStore is perhaps the only app you will need. The app contains the schedule of all the IPL matches, along with any other major event. The news section of the app makes sure that its users will get all the latest news and happenings in the world of IPL.

Sadly, since iOS does not support Flash, users won’t be able to watch the match live on their handset. They can however head over to YouTube.com/ipl or use the YouTube app to watch the matches live.

Windows Phone users can download the IPL 2012 app for free from the Marketplace. The app will provide users with the schedules of all the IPL matches. The app also has a live score section, but the developer is not too sure whether it works properly or not.

Why Android Tablet Makers are Screwed and Apple Will Have the Last Laugh

Working title: Why Android Tablet Makers are Screwed and Apple Will Continue to Capture Most of the Tablet Industry’s Profits

It’s clear now that Apple is positioning the iPad as a reasonably priced tablet, which provides the best experience to users. Initially, almost all Android tablets were priced much higher than the iPad, but once that strategy failed, most of them are now focusing on the budget segment to capture tablet market share.

The iPad, which was one of the best priced tablet just a couple of quarters ago, now seems like one of the most relatively expensive ones. However, it remains one of the most low priced Apple products, and the best tablet you can buy. This is why despite the flood of cheap Android tablets, Apple still commands a majority market share, and an even higher proportion of the tablet industry’s total profits.

Apple iPad
The iPad. Being smug. Rightfully though.

Amazon was the first tablet maker to kick off the race to the bottom, with the $200 Kindle Fire. It has been a hit in terms of sales, but has weighed on Amazon’s profit margins, with Amazon taking a small loss on each sale.

Now, almost everyone is competing with each other to launch a cheaper Android tablet. Google itself is rumored to be working on a $199 Nexus tablet, which would force other tablet makers to price their products even lower. Once you start competing on price, with no other differentiating feature, it doesn’t take long for the whole segment to become loss making as a whole.

The only tablet maker which isn’t competing on price is Apple, and they don’t really need to, with iPads selling like hot cakes, and selling way more than all Android tablets combined, despite being priced much higher.

Windows 8 is still at least 6 months away from launch, and Windows 8 tablets will likely be priced higher than the entry level iPad, which now starts at $399.

In the meanwhile, while Android tablet app support remains pathetic, Apple continues to improve the iPad ecosystem, further bolstering its position as the best tablet on the market, increasing the gap between the iPad and every other tablet on the market.

This is why, despite having a lower profit margin for the iPad relative to its other products, Apple seems to be the only tablet maker which can remain largely profitable in the long run, while Android tablet makers fight amongst themselves and bleed each other with losses, with only a few biggies like Samsung and HTC possibly standing till the end.

PS: Even Amazon is positioned well, as it never intended to make money by selling the Kindle Fire hardware, but on digital content that it could sell to Kindle Fire users. Most other Android tablet makers are screwed, because selling hardware is the only way they intend to make money, and that seems to be a game in which the only winning move is to not play at all.

Amazon Kindle Fire
This little guy spoiled it for everyone. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Four Issues With The New iPad and Their Solution

It’s been a week now since the ‘new iPad’ hit the retail stores in the United States. The early reviews of the tablet are out, and like every time, Apple has not failed to impress users and shut up its critics, even though the initial reaction of the new iPad was underwhelming.

However, the new iPad, like some of the past few product releases from Apple, has some launch issues that will be sorted out as time progresses. Below is a list of the popular problems, which owners of the new iPad are facing, right now-:

1) Hot! – So yeah, the new iPad is hot, and I mean literally. Reports have already suggested that the new iPad is up to 9.6 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the iPad 2. Apple forums are already flooded with complaints from user about the new iPad overheating.

The reason behind the new iPad overheating is the new A5X SoC, specifically the PowerVR SGX543MP4 GPU, and the Retina Display. To power such a pixel-full display, Apple had to make sure that the new iPad had a very powerful GPU and the PowerVR SGX543MP4 certainly fulfills that requirement. More pixels means the GPU has to work harder thus generating more heat. The A5X SoC is quite a bit larger than A5, which is the main culprit behind the new iPad getting warm. However, a gadget getting hot, sometimes too hot to be unusable, is nothing new. The popular Galaxy S II also has a similar issue, where it would sometimes get so hot that the user actually has to wait for the phone to cool down before he could again use it.

2) Poor Wi-Fi Reception – Since the last couple of days, quite a few users are reporting that the new iPad has poor Wi-Fi reception. Compared to the iPad 2, the new iPad reports two-third of the signal strength. For some users, the new iPad will simply drop Wi-Fi networks after sometime.

The original iPad had also faced similar Wi-Fi issues, and so this is nothing to be surprised about. Hopefully, the next iOS update from Apple will fix the poor Wi-Fi reception issue on the new iPad.

3) Poor Battery Life – The new iPad sports a battery bigger than the one found in MacBook Air (2010) model. The 42.5whr battery has enough juice to power the Retina Display, the 4G LTE baseband and the quad-GPU for up to 9 hours. However, some users are reporting poor battery life with their new iPad.

Reports have confirmed that the new iPad continues charging itself for up to 1 hour after the battery indicator shows 100%, and it actually helps in increasing the battery life. Also, if you are gaming too much or watching too much video on your new iPad on YouTube via Verizon’s or AT&T LTE network, your iPad is bound to get hot and last only a few hours.

Since the battery capacity has increased tremendously, the new iPad will also take longer time to charge than its predecessors.

4) Heavier Apps – Thanks to the Retina display on the new iPad, all apps optimized for the tablet will be up to 5 times heavier than its iPad 2 version. There is not much developers or users can do about it, except for making sure that they buy a higher capacity variant of the iPad.

Frankly, I don’t think any of the above issues are really a deal breaker for the new iPad owners. New iPad owners will ultimately get used to the device heating up and the longer charging time. Apple should fix the Wi-Fi connectivity issue in the next iOS update, until and unless it’s a hardware issue.

New Apple iPad vs. iPad 2 – To Buy Or Not To Buy?

The new iPad is superior in every way to its predecessor, the iPad 2. However, is the new iPad a worthy update if you own the iPad 2?

Below are 5 areas where the new iPad  is a major improvement over the iPad 2 -:

Display – The new iPad has the same screen size as the iPad 2 at 9.7-inches. However, the biggest difference between the two is the resolution of the screen. While the new iPad has an eye-busting resolution of 2048*1536, the iPad 2 has a mere screen resolution of 1024×768. The saturation and color rendering on the new iPad screen is also up to 40% much better than the screen on the iPad 2.

iSight camera – The iPad 2 was the first iPad to come with a camera, but sadly the camera on the device was a disappointment. It took some terrible photos, but was perfect for video calling. After all, who uses a tablet to take photos? Well, iPad does not want to take any chance, and has updated the camera on the new iPad to a 5MP one, which sports the same camera technology as the one found on the iPhone 4S 8MP snapper.

Performance – The iPad 2 still is the best performing tablet out there. The PowerVR SGX543 GPU inside the iPad 2 is still an overkill for the resolution it has to push on the iPad 2. However, since the new iPad has such a big screen, Apple also increased the core count on the PowerVR SGX543 GPU to a total of four. In theory, at the same resolution, users should expect to see a 4x improvement in performance. While that might not be possible in the real world scenarios, the 4 cores inside the PowerVR SGX543 will make sure that games on the new iPad don’t struggle at such an insane resolution.

RAM – While the iPad 2 has only 512MB of RAM, the new iPad comes with 1GB of RAM. Considering the increase in resolution, apps appetite for RAM will also increase, and so it was obvious for Apple to increase the total amount of RAM on the new iPad. While the extra amount of RAM may not affect performance much in day-to-day use, it will definitely come in handy while loading big games or under heavy multi-tasking.

Connectivity – The new iPad is the first device from Apple to support the blazing fast LTE networks from Verizon and AT&T. This ensures that users can get a download speed of up to a whopping 72Mbps per second! In contrast to this, the iPad 2 comes with support for only the 3G networks, with a maximum download speed of up to 14.4Mbps.

It is clearly visible from the above five points, that the new iPad trumps the iPad 2 in every possible way. However, if you own an iPad 2, should you really upgrade to the new iPad? In my opinion, while the new iPad comes with some major changes including a beautiful display, I don’t think there is any need for iPad 2 owners to update to the new iPad. The iPad 2 is by no means outdated, and still offers more than decent performance.

If you own an original iPad though, its time for you to update though! The original iPad is now more than 2 years old now, and has reached the end of its life. If you are a graphic designer, and use your iPad for some graphic designing purpose though, I’d recommend you to buy the new iPad though. The difference in resolution will be greatly appreciated by all the graphic designers.

Finally, if you still don’t own a tablet, the iPad 2 for $399 is an awesome bargain for a tablet. Go get it now!

 

What Are Magnet Links? How Are They Different From Torrents?

So you heard about Magnet Links and were terrified? What Are Magnet Links? How Are They Different From Torrents? How to Download files using Magnet Links. Are Magnet Links Safe?

Magnet Links

In a world of peer-to-peer sharing, Torrents have come along a long way along. However, Torrents are being deemed as less safer these days because of people being able to easily track them. This has led several websites including "The Pirate Bay" from changing the way they allow users to download files.

Also Read: 6 Tools to Download Torrents Anonymously

The Pirate Bay recently switched from torrents to magnet links marking a big change in how it operates. In a nutshell, magnet links change how users download content. We’ll take a look at what has changed and what you will need to change in order to download files using Magnet links.

What are Magnet Links? What’s the Difference Between Magnet Links and Torrents?

Magnet Links change the fundamental way in which we download from peer-to-peer networks. Unlike Torrents, which needed a centralized server for tracking purposes, magnet links directly download content from other peers thus getting rid of the centralized server for tracking seeds and peers.

Also Read: What Are Web Seeds? 

Magnet links make use of DHT, which is a form of decentralized distribution which allows a group of users to share a file faster amongst themselves without having to rely on a server. There is not much difference between how a file is downloaded from a torrent vs how it is downloaded from a magnet link.

Do I Have to Change How I Download Using Magnet Links?

No. Magnet links are similar to torrent files and if you have a P2P torrent software installed, you will be able to download the content using magnet links without having to change anything. However, you might have to upgrade your P2P software to the latest versions so that the browsers are aware that they should handle those links.

How to Download Files Using Magnet Links?

There are couple of ways in which you can download content using magnet links. The first is pretty straightforward. Just click on the link that is provided and it will launch your default torrent software as shown below. You might want to check the checkbox next to "Remember my choice for all links of this type" or "Always use this software to open such links" so that it will automatically open magnet links in your favorite torrent client.

Download Magnet Links

Clicking on the "Get This Torrent" link in Pirate Bay will automatically launch your Bittorrent application.

downloading_through_magnet_links

Once you open the magnet link, your torrent client will start downloading the content just like a regular torrent. Alternatively, you can also copy the magnet link and add it directly to your torrent client just like you used to do for regular torrents.

Are Magnet Links Safe?

Downloading through magnet links is as safe as downloading a torrent file. However, make sure to download legitimate content and you will be safe. There have been several cases of infected torrents so the files you download through magnet links could be unsafe as well.