Tech Bling

Siri Rings In iPhone 4S

Apple surprised the world when it unveiled the iPhone 4S instead of the iPhone 5 last month. However, the initial disappointment has abated and the credit for that goes to Siri, its “intelligent personal assistant”. It processes natural language to answer questions, make recommendations and help access your email, calendar, or send a text message. A product of a research project, it was initially funded by Pentagon’s Darpa agency, and then taken on by the Stanford Research Institute; Apple acquired the company, Siri, which had been created by Stanford. However, Siri is not yet fully functional in India, as map directions and traffic data are not available outside USA. The iPhone 4S also scores for its 8 MP camera with improved optics and advanced processing power. The phone is available in black and white – the 16 GB version costs US$199, the 32 GB version costs US$299 and the 64 GB version is priced at US$399.

Kindle Lights Its Fire

The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, to be sold from November 15 onwards, has already notched the top spot for the ‘Most Gifted’ product at the retailer’s electronics division. It offers a full-color 7-inch multi-touch IPS display, dual core CPU, 8GB internal memory, Wi-Fi functionality, and up to eight hours of battery life. The applications of the tablet include the Amazon Silk browser that will track online movements of the users for fast Internet access, email, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Appstore, and Amazon Cloud Drive, and a free month of Amazon Prime membership. The Kindle Fire costs just US$199; however, the tablet up for pre-order at Indiaplaza has been priced at `14,999.

Lenovo Launches ThinkPad

Lenovo has announced three tablets on the Android 3.1 platform with NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core mobile processors for the Indian market. While the 7-inch IdeaPad Tablet A1 is due to launch soon, the 10-inch ThinkPad and 10-inch IdeaPad Tablet K1 are already on the market. Among these, the ThinkPad Tablet is aimed exclusively at the business customer.

It features a pressure sensitive pen to jot down notes, a 2 MP front-facing camera for video calls, facility to project 1080 video to external displays, viewing and editing of Microsoft Office documents with Documents to Go, secure email access and device control and protection, and Social Touch, an app that combines the features into a widget. The prices for the tablet are `29,500 for 16GB,Wi-Fi version, `41,900 for the 32GB, 3G version and `46,900 for the 64GB, 3G version. The tablets come with over 40 preloaded apps customised to Indian users apart from apps in the Lenovo App Shop and the Android Market.

Live TV & Internet On Gulf Air

Gulf Air has taken delivery of its first A330-200 aircraft retrofitted with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) Global Communications Suite. With Skyhub, passengers have onboard full broadband connectivity to access Internet, mobile phone services and a global live television service. “We are bringing to you, for the first time in the world, fully integrated broadband connectivity offering high speed internet with high speed Wi-Fi and data services, VOIP, streaming videos and the world’s first in-flight live TV satellite stream across continents,” said CEO Samer Majali. The service can also offer speeds of up to 50 Mbps but at an extra fee of US$16 per hour. Payments are made through credit cards or Gulf Air travel vouchers.

Galaxy Note Out

The 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, unveiled by Samsung at IFA 2011 in Berlin, is expected to launch in India on the first week of November. The device, which functioned as both a smartphone and tablet, is the first to have an HD Super Amoled screen with native resolution of 800 x 1280 pixels, an S pen advanced stylus and support for multi-touch. Galaxy Note, powered by a dual core 1.4 GHz Exynos with a Mali-400 MP graphics chip, runs on Android 2.3 and Samsung TouchWiz user interface. It also has 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB storage memory, an 8 MP camera with LED flash that can record 1080p full HD video at 30 fps, and a front facing 2 MP camera. The price of Galaxy Note is expected to be more than `30,000.

Aakash Is UbiSlate

India has announced the cheapest tablet, Aakash, at `2,250; the consumer version called UbiSlate will be out by the end of this month and will cost `2,999. Developed by Canadian firm DataWind with IIT Rajasthan, the tablet with a 7-inch resistance screen is part of the HRD ministry’s National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology. The tablet, which weighs 350 grams has an Android 2.2 OS, a 366 MHz processor, an HD video co-processor and graphic accelerator, 256 MB of RAM and 2 GB of built in memory.

It has two USB ports and a 3.5 mm standard stereo headphone jack. It offers support for built in Wi-Fi, data card for 3G and GPRS connectivity and file formats like doc, docx, pptx and pdf. The browser, UBI Surfer, is ten times faster than any mobile browser, claims DataWind. The battery of the tablet will last about 3 hours.

DataWind is also working on a 5-inch Android smartphone and 9 and 10-inch tablets as well.

HTC Titan Due This Month

HTC Titan, the Windows Phone 7.5, will launch in India this month. The phone with its 1.5 GHz processor features a 4.7-inch LCD touchscreen display with 480 x 800 pixel resolution, 8 MP camera with dual LED flash that can record 720p HD videos at 30 fps, front facing 1.3 MP camera, 512 MB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage – 3.4 GB will be used by the Windows Phone 7.5. HTC Titan also supports Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and wired connectivity via a standard microUSB connector. The battery of the smartphone lasts up to 12 hours of talk time on 2G networks and about seven hours on 3G networks.

Microsoft Welcomes Skype (Skype)

Microsoft has closed its acquisition of Skype Global, and announced that both Microsoft and Skype will remain focussed on their shared goal of connecting all people across all devices and accelerating both companies’ efforts to transform real-time communications for consumers and enterprise customers. The completion of the acquisition also marks the official introduction of Skype as a new business division within Microsoft. The goal of Skype is to reach one billion users daily. The acquisition, however, remains under review in a few countries, and will be completed in those countries when such reviews are closed.

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