Microsoft has just released Windows 8, and while the user interface is a dramatic departure from what people have been used to, one cannot help drooling at the new Modern UI. Heck, as a Mac user even I have wanted to taste the forbidden fruit. Boot camp is always a good option, but as it is created inside Apple’s walled garden, even a rocket of MacBook Pro Retina Display is not able to perform at full throttle. What’s the solution? Virtualization always works on the Mac and frankly there are only two realistic options in this space – Parallels and VMware Fusion. Parallels is considered to be the superior option and the latest version of the Parallels 8 also happens to be completely Windows 8 and MacBook Pro Retina Display compliant. Can there be a better test bed for Parallels Desktop 8? I think not. Read on to find out more.
Tech reviewers, yours truly included, don’t always get things right. At times (though a rarity) we fail to understand what the consumers desire and dismiss products that eventually become immensely successful. Samsung launched such a product last year, which was panned for its humongous size by reviewers but it sold by the millions globally (over 10 million units, to be precise). I could never even think of anyone using a “phone” with a 5.3-inch display, a device that does not fit comfortably in the hand, as their primary phone. Remember, that was a time when smartphones with 4.3-inch displays ruled the roost and the iPhone was still sitting pretty at 3.5-inches. Yet, it sold really well, even in India.
The Galaxy Note was a first-of-its-kind device, a phablet if I may, to be widely accepted and appreciated. Yes, there was the Dell Streak but it was barely anything more than a press release. I still have my reservations about the first-generation Galaxy Note as I find the pen input functionality to be limited and the device feels a little thick and massive when held in the hand. However, Samsung has refined the concept in the last one year and claims it has worked upon both the hardware and software, and incorporated those changes in the Galaxy Note II. Can the Galaxy Note II change how I feel about phablets? Let’s find out!
Last year, Samsung redefined the smartphone market with the original Galaxy Note, which was a 5.3-inch tablet/smartphone hybrid. Its claim to fame was not only the relatively odd screen size but also the S-Pen, which used Wacom’s digitizer technology to provide a note taking experience akin to using pen and paper. Admittedly, it was not perfect, but by far it was the best one out there. Now with the Galaxy Note 800, Samsung is trying something similar, but this time around on a device that has a larger canvas. Samsung has learnt the hard way that when it comes down to traditional 10-inch tablets, the iPad is very hard to beat, especially with the apps situation on Android. The only way it can compete with the iPad is by not competing with it but rather offer consumers something different. And the Galaxy Note 800 has been born out of this thought process. Originally unveiled at MWC, the final product has gone through many spec-sheet changes that arm it with the latest and greatest Samsung has to offer. But is it enough? Can Samsung really compete in the 10-inch tablet space against the iPad by providing something powerful yet different? Let’s find out.
Of late Sony has been on a roll. It has released Android smartphones thick and fast and to its credit it is one of the few OEMs to have released Android 4.0 updates for its devices. That said, all of the newly launched Sony devices, including the Xperia P, had been released on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, though it now has received a update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Xperia P is a rather unique offering and, on paper, it is well equipped to handle anything competing brands are offering at the price point. Let’s see if it has what it takes to garner a recommendation from us. Read on to find out all the juicy details.
Last year, LG was the first company to enter the dual-core game but things are different this year as its flagship the Optimus 4X HD comes after stalwarts like the Galaxy S III and the HTC One X. The challenge for the Optimus 4X HD is not only to become a successful device, but also to make sure the company’s products are more well respected in this highly competitive market. While, it sure seems like the Optimus 4X HD has all the ingredients of a superphone, its success is definitely not guaranteed. Let’s see if the Optimus 4X HD can live up to the billing.
Buying an iDevice is just the beginning. What really begins is a cycle of buying new accessories, mostly to protect the iGadget and at times to improve its functionality. With me it is usually about iPad cases and covers. In the past two-and-a-half years of owning all the three generations of the iPad, I have spent a fortune on iPad cases, which could have easily got me another iPad. The obsession continues to this day. My current favorite is the Capdase Canvas Folio case that fits the iPad 2 as well as the new iPad perfectly. Read on for my review.
As far as security suits go, Symantec’s Norton 360 suite sits at the top the ladder. Historically, Norton has always had a very-very large user base thanks to a legion of OEM pre-installations, but often it was criticized for slowing down Windows hardware, yet in the last few years, the company reinvented its core underlying architecture, to make its security software lighter, nimbler and more powerful than ever. Norton 360 version 6.0 for the year 2012 is the culmination of the best Symantec consumer software in one package. It is perhaps the most comprehensive security suite on the market, but let us see if it is the best one.
As the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X churn out mind boggling form factors and spec sheet pyrotechnics like a quad-core processors for the high-end of the market, the dual-core powered devices now seem to be relegated to the mid-range to the lower end of the market.
Sure, a best seller like the Galaxy S II might still command over Rs 25,000, but that does not mean consumers cannot have a slice of dual-core Android goodness at a lower price point. The market is flooding with such devices. There is the Motorola Atrix 2, LG Optimus 2X, Samsung Galaxy S Advance, Galaxy R, Galaxy Ace Plus, Sony Xperia U, and Sony Xperia Sola.
The Xperia Sola notably is perhaps the most unique device in the whole segment as it boasts of a dual-core engine and also has a rather mysterious floating touch display, where the company claims that one can actually use the device without actually touching the display. Price wise also, it is set right at mid-point of the whole segment and size wise, it adheres to a rather reasonable form factor, eschewing the absurdity of 4.5-inch plus displays. Let’s see if the Xperia Sola has the chops to win our hearts. Read on for more.
It is the most high-profile and talked-about Android smartphone of 2012. Samsung did a great job of creating pre-launch hype and even pushing forward its global announcement to time it closer to the launch date. Yes, Samsung did try to execute Apple’s playbook and succeeded in doing so to a great extent. But does the Galaxy S III live up to all the hype surrounding it? Will it be able to justify a higher price tag than the similarly equipped and better looking HTC One X? Let’s find out.
Android smartphones are the rage these days and smartphone OEMs from all around the world are selling them like hot cakes. At least, that would hold true for Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone vendor. However, things have not been so rosy for its South Korean compatriot LG, especially in the smartphone space. Last year, LG started off the dual-core arms race with the Optimus 2X, but in terms of sales and reviews their product was slightly behind the curve.
The LG Optimus Sol is yet another Android smartphone with the Optimus branding, but it enters a market which is already flooded with a number of Samsung, HTC and Sony smartphones and we are discounting the number of Indian handset brands that are entering this space with competitive pricing. Let’s see if the Optimus Sol has what it takes to crack this highly lucrative low end of the market.
Once a must-have device if one wanted email on one’s cellphone, Research In Motion (RIM) has witnessed its fortunes dwindle in the past couple of years. Just like Nokia, which failed to notice the tectonic shift in smartphone usage trends, RIM failed to evolve its BlackBerry smartphones to keep up with changing times and needs of the users. Today BlackBerry’s market share is all but wiped off in most mature countries. However, in emerging markets, especially India, RIM is growing its market share primarily due to its free IM service called BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and cheap Internet service plans with most carriers.
Even as RIM goes through a period of transition – it is developing a new OS called BlackBerry 10, which is based on QNX – it acknowledges the need to keep refreshing its products for markets like India, where it still has a chance to grow. With no high-end products planned for release before the first BB10 smartphone towards the end of the year, RIM hopes its entry-level Curve 9220 and in the near future its 3G variant, the 9320, will be enough to satiate the needs of its demanding user base. RIM hopes to sell these relatively cheaper smartphones by the millions to keep up is shipment numbers. But is the Curve 9220 cut out to fulfil RIM’s needs? Let’s find out.
Back in the day, tablets meant something a doctor would prescribe one to take when sick. In tech-world, it meant super-expensive laptops that had a swiveling display on which users could scribble using a stylus. I know of at least one C-level executive who had bought one such machine costing upwards of Rs 100,000 only to sign documents! Then came the iPad in the beginning of Summer 2010 and turned the tablet space on its head. With almost 60 million iPads already sold globally, the iPad has not only defined a brand-new gadget category but has also dominated it like no one’s business. In fact, many executives of rival companies have admitted to me in private that it is really an iPad market and not a tablet market even in India, where we have numerous usable tablets selling for under Rs 20,000. So much for India being a price sensitive country.
Now in its third generation, the iPad hasn’t changed drastically in its looks and feel. Unlike the iPhone, which has now settled into a design refresh every two years, the iPad refreshes have all been about adding more hardware capabilities. I own all the three generations and I feel almost at home irrespective whether I’m using the first-gen iPad or the latest third generation. That’s not saying that the new iPad is only an incremental update over the older ones but instead how iPads age graciously unlike Android tabs that suffocate to death within a year, lacking timely updates. Mind you, most of the first-gen Android tabs of 2010-2011 were much more powerful machines if one were to strictly talk about hardware.
Without getting into discussing the merits of Apple’s new naming scheme for the iPad, now just called the iPad or the new iPad rather than the iPad 3, the third-gen iPad is probably the most controversial of all. Many think it is just an incremental update with no ground-breaking hardware shift from Apple. Their usual gripe is the absence of a truly new processor (the Apple A6 with four cores – the new iPad has the A5X, the same dual-core processor as the iPad 2 but with a quad-core GPU) and probably the same design as the iPad 2. However, the question still remains – is the new iPad still THE must-have tablet or the iPad 2 continues to rule the roost. Let’s find out.