Tag Archives: Gadgets News

LG Pocket Photo Printer PD221 Review

Earlier today, LG officially launched a rather unique product – the LG Pocket Photo Printer (PD221). The Pocket Photo is being dubbed by LG as a smart mobile printer, and the device certainly lives up to its nomenclature. I’ve been using a unit that was gifted to me for the past couple of months.

The printer is incredibly small – it’s actually slightly smaller than my Galaxy SIII. However, the thickness means that you won’t be actually able to carry this in your pocket (unless you’re wearing a jacket or a coat). The printer produces 5.1 x 7.6cm (2 x 3 inch) prints, which are definitely not large enough to please a photographer, but are good for quickly capturing and sharing fun moments with friends.

The Pocket Photo PD221 is USB powered, and can also run on battery. The battery doesn’t last long, but the good thing is that it only takes a few minutes to charge up. Once it’s charged, the indicator changes from red to green, and you’re good to go. Before you can print though, you’ll need to install the LG Pocket Photo app from the Play Store. Windows and iPhone users are out of luck though, since the app is only available for Android. The app is pretty straightforward and simple to use. You can apply Instagram-like photo effects, crop and rotate the picture, add text or even a custom QR code. Once you’re happy with the photo, you need to hit the print button. The Pocket Photo transmits via Bluetooth. Pressing and holding the power button makes it discoverable. However, if you have an NFC equipped phone, you can skip the hassle of searching and pairing with the printer. Just tap your phone on the printer, and it should instantly start transmitting. At least in theory. In practice, it took a couple of tries to get it right, but the entire process was still pretty hassle free. The Android app can also print multiple photos in a single page, so you can also use the printer for quick and dirty passport photos.

LG Pocket Photo Android App
LG Pocket Photo Android App

The LG Pocket Photo uses a special paper known as ZINK (Zero Ink). Unlike traditional InkJet printers, it doesn’t require any ink. Instead it prints by applying heat on the special ZINK paper. This is the innovation that enabled LG to shrink the printer. The LG Pocket Photo is undoubtedly an incredibly cool device. Take a snap, fire up the app, tap on your printer, and in less than a minute you would have the pic in your hand. Unfortunately, the ZINK technology has its limitations. The quality of the prints isn’t bad, but isn’t very good either. The color reproduction is off, as a result of which images appear washed out and tinted.

LG Pocket Photo Printer with Sample Photo
LG Pocket Photo Printer with Sample Photo

The biggest caveat of the PD221 is its price. It doesn’t serve a lot of purpose other than having some fun. The printouts are neither big enough nor good enough for a photographer. They’re good for taking that quick passport photo when you really need it. They’re also great for something you would want to keep in your wallet or on your table. However, they won’t go into your photo album. For something with a limited utility, the LG mobile printer is just too expensive for most people. The printer is being launched at an MRP of 14990, and a pack of 30 papers cost Rs. 1099. Ten papers are bundled with the printer. The LG Pocket Photo Printer is something that will fit the drool worthy gadgets column in a magazine. It’s not something the average consumer will purchase, but will probably attract the gadget affectionados who have the moolah to splurge on the coolest new gadget in the store.

New Nexus 7 with Android 4.3 Officially Announced

As expected, Google has officially announced the new Nexus 7 in its summer event. However, the newest tablet from Google’s stable had very little surprise to offer thanks to retailers jumping the gun and putting it up for pre-order well ahead of the official event.

Nexus-7

The new Nexus 7, which is again being made by ASUS, has received a comprehensive specs bump. The Tegra 3 has been replaced by a Snapgradon S4 Pro chipset that includes an 1.5GHz quad-core Krait processor and Adreno 320 GPU. RAM has been doubled to two gigabytes. The screen display is still a 7-inch LCD, but the device itself has been slimmed down fairly significantly (1.8 mm thinner and 2.8 mm narrower and shorter). The new display boosts the pixel density to 323 ppi with a resolution of 1900 x 1200. The super high resolution display is accompanied by dual stereo speakers with Fraunhofer virtual surround sound for an all around improved multimedia experience. The final significant enhancement is the inclusion of a 5 mega-pixel rear camera capable of snapping HD videos to go along with the 1.2 mega-pixel rear camera.

The Nexus 7 will also be the first device to ship with the new Jelly Bean (Android 4.3) which introduces multi-user account with limited profiles, and Bluetooth Low Energy support along with better graphics capabilities and new DRM for hardware powered encryption for multimedia content.

While the new Nexus 7 isn’t revolutionary, it’s definitely better in almost every way. The best part is that all of these enhancements will cost you only a little bit extra. The 16 GB Wi-Fi model will cost $229 while the 32 GB variant will cost $269. Google will also be selling unlocked 4G LTE compatible models, which will cost $349 (64 GB).

Barnes & Noble Breaks Down the Walls, Nook Gets Access to Play Store and Other Google Apps

One of the oft-cited drawbacks of the Barnes and Noble Nook has been its closed ecosystem. Both the Nook HD and the Nook HD+ are attractively priced competent Android tablets. Yet, their sales have been so underwhelming that at one point B&N was reportedly considering quitting the hardware business. The Nook’s biggest weakness is its poor app catalogue. Nook runs a heavily customized version of Android that only allowed users to access its own app catalogue, which housed just a few thousand apps (a good chunk of which are paid). By comparison, the Google Play Store has nearly a million apps in its catalogue. Amazon also takes a similar approach with its Kindle tablets. However, thanks to heavy promotion and great deals, the Amazon App Store has has managed to cross the 75,000 mark.

All this is changing now. Barnes and Noble is pushing out an update to its Nook HD users, which will bring down the wall and provide access to the Google Play Store. Since, Google’s Android app offering is a “take it all or leave it” proposition, Nook is now sporting Google’s full suite of apps including Gmail, Chrome, Maps, and YouTube. As of now, the update is restricted to the Nook HD and Nook HD+, with no mention of Nook Tablet and Color owners.

Barnes-Noble-Nook-Update-Play-Store

Obviously, the new open stance from B&N means that you get access to your full catalogue of Android apps that you might have purchased on some other device. Apps installed via the B&N app store are now watermarked with an ‘n’ on the icon to indicate its source. The update also makes it possible to install Amazon Kindle on your Nook, and enjoy content you might have purchased from Barnes and Noble’s biggest competitor.

Both Nook HD and Nook HD+ are good pieces of hardware that were being held back by the software. The latest update liberates the tablets from the Barnes and Noble’s walled garden, and users will finally be able to realize the full potential of the devices they paid for.

LG Acquires webOS from HP, Will Use It in Smart TVs

Palm’s webOS has made another return from the graveyard. After being left at the mercy of the community for over a year by Hewlett-Packard, which had acquired Palm in 2010 for $1.2 billion, webOS has found a new home. LG has acquired webOS from HP for an undisclosed sum.

The Korean electronics giant isn’t planning on using the mobile OS in smartphones. Instead, it will be adapting it for use in its popular smart TV range. LG was reported to be eyeing webOS for quite a while, after deciding against using Google TV over fears of Google imposed restrictions on the design and interface. LG’s purchase also includes all patents and employees of the webOS Global Business Unit.

LG-Smart-TV

Skott Ahn, president and chief technology officer of LG Electronics Inc, remarked, “It creates a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices”. It will be interesting to see how LG goes about porting an operating system designed for touch to the remote control operated big screen.

LG might not be the first name that pops into anyone’s mind when talking about smartphones, but they have a strong presence in the television market. While purchasing webOS outright is surprising, it’s not surprising that LG is looking to replace NetCast, its current smart TV platform. NetCast has served LG well, but it is showing signs of age, and with big names like Google and Apple preparing to double down on the smart TV market, LG needs to up its game. HP will also be happy to be able to get something in exchange of webOS. Palm’s webOS was once heralded as the brightest competitor to the iPhone’s operating system, but corporate inefficiency and idiocy never allowed it to realize its full potential. Even surviving as a smart TV platform is a sad fate for a genuinely innovative and intuitive operating system, but in LG’s hands, webOS will probably reach millions of more households than it ever did under its previous two owners.

More 4K: 110” Monster from Westinghouse, Astounding 30” Monitor from LG, and Handycam from Sony

Ultra HD displays are clearly the next big thing as far as display manufacturers are considered, with 3D being suddenly relegated to the status of a secondary feature. During the first two days, we saw Samsung and LG announce gorgeous 55-inch 4K OLED TVs, Panasonic showcase its massive 20-inch Windows 8 table with a 4K display targeted at designers, and LG and Sony announce affordable (comparatively) smaller 4K displays. Ultra high definition displays represent the next radical improvement in display technology, and the good news is that 2013 looking to be the year where it will finally spread its wings.

Yesterday, LG announced a 30-inch monitor with an astounding resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels. Although, we don’t know the price of this little beauty, it will surely put a dent in your pocket. LG is billing the 153 ppi display as a professional monitor aimed at designers and artists. Viewsonic also displayed a 32-inch monitor with a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 that will be shipping towards the end of this year.

LG-4K-Monitor

Sony on the other hand is displaying a curious prototype that is labelled as a 4K handycam for consumer use. It’s not even known if the prototype works since its currently securely locked in a glass cage, but as per The Verge, it records 4K videos using the XAVC open-source format. To be honest, the 4K video recorder sems to be too big and bulky for most consumers.

Sony-4K-Handycam

Last, but not least, Westinghouse stayed true to its word, and unveiled the biggest 4K TV in the world. Westinghouse’s 110-inch 4K TV is a good 25 inches bigger than its nearest competition. However, it comes at a price. The world’s biggest 4K TV will only be manufactured to order, and will cost $300,000, which is more than ten times the price of 85-inch and 84-inch 4K televisions from Sony and LG respectively.

Westinghouse-Largest-4K-TV

[ via The Verge and Engadget ]

Samsung and LG Announce World’s First Curved OLED TVs

We have been seeing lots of new and exciting televisions in this year’s CES, and the competition is extremely stiff. On Tuesday, Sony’s reveal of the world’s largest OLED 4K TV was matched by Panasonic within hours. Yesterday, we saw the same scenario playing out with Samsung and LG.

Curved-OLED-TV-Samsung

Samsung was the first off the block, with its “world’s first curved OLED TV” announcement. The massive display measures in at 55-inches, and has a curved texture that Samsung reps termed as “IMAX feel”. Being a OLED, the display is expected to offer fantastic color reproduction and crisp and vivid images.The curved OLED is scheduled to be released during the second half of the year. However, other than that, we know precious little about Samsung’s gorgeous new display.

LG-Curved-OLED-TV

Soon after Samsung’s announcement, LG announced its own 55” curved OLED TV. The LG EA9800 promises the same panoramic, immersive viewing experience as Samsung; however, it will also be capable of displaying 3D content. Once again, LG didn’t reveal any specifications or release information. However, given the epic rivalry between the two Korean giants, it’s reasonable to guess that LG’s display will hit the markets round about the same time as Samsung’s curved OLED.

More 4K TVs and a 4K Windows 8 Tablet

After dominating discussions on day 0 of CES, 4K continued to be a buzzword on day 1. Panasonic stole the show with its 56-inch 4K OLED TV, which promised rich vibrant colors that we have come to expect from OLED displays on a large form factor with an insanely high resolution. The 56-inch beauty is also stunning to look at, measuring in at less than 0.5 inch thick. Unfortunately, much like its competitor Sony’s offering, Panasonic’s 4K OLED is still in prototype stages. Panasonic refused to divulge either price or release date. However, Panasonic did reveal that, somewhat curiously, it is using 3D printing technology in the manufacture of the displays.

Panasonic-4K-OLED-TV

The other 4K entry from Panasonic was a tablet. At 20-inches, Panasonic’s tablet doesn’t quite fit within Steve Jobs post-PC vision; however, Panasonic has shown before that it is comfortable operating in niche markets that other manufacturers often ignore. The gigantic tablet is meant for artists and designers, for whom the big display with extra-high resolution will really make a difference. Once again, we don’t have a release date or price tag for the product. However, we do know that the Panasonic tablet will be powered by an Intel Core i5, run Windows 8, and ship with a stylus and some sort of a cloud based collaboration tool. The battery is expected to last about a couple of hours.

Panasonic-4K-Tablet

LG, which was among the first to introduce 4K displays, is demoing the previously announced 55-inch and 65-inch 4K televisions for the first time. Again, we don’t have any information on availability and cost. However, I would be really surprised if LG takes more than a few weeks to launch its new TVs.

[ Images via CNET ]

Samsung and Sony Announce New 4K TVs

CES 2013 officially kicks off today; however, some folks couldn’t just wait. Samsung, Nvidia, Sony, and many of the big names got the ball rolling yesterday itself. Judging from the day zero, if last year was the year of ultrabooks, this year can turn out to be the year of 4K television.

LG and Sony already have strong offerings in the Ultra-HD or 4K segment. Yesterday, Samsung announced its entry with a 85-inch monster. The Samsung UN85S9 takes away the crown of the world’s largest 4K television from LG and Sony by being an inch bigger. However, its reign at the top is bound to be short-lived as Westinghouse is expected to announce a 110-inch monster later on during the CES.

Samsung-4K-TV

The Samsung UN85S9 features a stunning “floating” design, which allows the display to be easily adjusted vertically. Samsung’s new UHD television is powered by a 1.35 GHz quad-core A15 processor, but unlike LG’s dual-core counterpart, it doesn’t support 3D.

The other 4K TV displayed yesterday came in a smaller package, but was equally wow-worthy. Sony showed off its 56-inch 4K OLED display. However, the display is currently in prototype stages, and no price or launch date information is available.

Sony did, however, have some good news for consumers looking to purchase 4K television. The Japanese giant will be leveraging its media portfolio to alleviate the lack of content issue. Sony will be bundling ten UHD movies sourced from Sony Pictures or its subsidiary Columbia Pictures with its 84-inch 4K TV. The selection includes the likes of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ and ‘The Karate Kid’. It is also planning to launch a download service, from where buyers of smaller 4K televisions, including the 55-inch and 65-inch 4K TVs that were announced yesterday, will be able to download 4K movies.

Videocon Launches Dual-Core Jelly Bean Tablet for Rs. 11000

Google and Amazon rained on the parade of budget Android tablet manufacturers with the Nexus and Kindle Fire series respectively. However, both of those devices aren’t officially available in India, which has left the field open for Indian brands as well as Chinese manufacturers. Videocon is hoping to grab a slice of this market with its new VT10 tablet.

Videocon-VT10-Tablet

As you might have guessed from the naming scheme, the Videocon VT10 is a 10” tablet. It sports a capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1280×800, which is pretty good for a budget tablet. It’s powered by a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon processor, which is again better than what is found in most budget tablets in India, but not as powerful as the Nvidia Tegra 3. The VT10 is equipped with 1 gigabyte of RAM, and 8 gigabytes of storage. You will almost certainly fill up the limited internal storage quickly. Thankfully, the VT10 includes support for external memory up to 32 GB. Both front and rear-cams are 2 megapixels, and the battery is rated at a hefty 6800mAh. The VT10 is Wi-Fi only, but supports 3G dongles. The default packaging includes an adapter, headset, battery, HDMI cable, OTG cable, and manual.

On paper, the VT10 appears to be a competitive tablet, which makes just the right compromises. However, its biggest draw isn’t really the hardware specifications. It’s the software and the price. The Videocon VT10 ships with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), and is available for purchase from Snapdeal and HomeShop18 for Rs. 11200 (about $204) with free shipping.

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.

Panasonic-Convertible-Notebook-Toughbook-Windows-8

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.

Panasonic-Water-Resistant-Toughbook-Tablet-Laptop-Windows-8

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.