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A tablet for less than Rs 20,000? Try these five!

The sub-Rs 10,000 tablet market might be booming in India, but we must confess to being a trifle circumspect about it as many of the devices in it do not really do justice to the tablet concept in terms of performance and specs. Stretch your budget to Rs 20,000, however, and you can get tablets that really perform (prices are approximate ones)

Motorola Xoom
Rs 19,900 onwards


It might not have become the iPad killer that most of the Android crowd had hoped it would be, but the Motorola Xoom remains a very good tablet for those wanting the Android experience on a 10.1-inch display. A dual core processor, 32 G B storage, and very good sound quality make this a very good proposition to this date – and it is had been updated to Android 4.0, and should get 4.1 in the coming days as well.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2
Rs 19,500

We really believe that if the original Galaxy Tab had been launched at the same price as its successor, then the iPad would have had a very tough time in tab territory. For the Galaxy Tab 2 packs in a dual core display, a brilliant 1024 x 600 resolution seven-inch display, dual cameras and 1GB RAM into a compact package that is a mere 345 grammes in weight. And you can make calls from it too.
BlackBerry PlayBook
Rs 13,990 onwards


A classic case of a product that made it big when its price was cut, the PlayBook however remains one of the best seven inch display tablets we have seen. The apps are not too many but the interface is buttery smooth, the build quality excellent, and the ability to sync smoothly with a BlackBerry phone is an added bonus. The 5.0-megapixel camera takes the best pictures we have seen this side of an iPhone. And yes, you do have a dual core processor under that hood.
Reliance 3G Tab
Rs 14,990


The original Reliance 3G Tab was one of the best value for money propositions we have seen on the tablet market and its successor which comes with a higher resolution 1024 x 600, seven inch display follows its tradition. Yes, we wish it was not running on the now-ancient Android 2.3 operating system, but for those looking for a decent tablet experience, this is not bad at all, especially when you factor in the super 3G plans Reliance bundles with it.

Apple iPad (original)
Rs 15,000 onwards

No, do not laugh at us. The tablet that started off the entire tablet revolution remains a very formidable proposition. There are no cameras but the screen resolution is the same as the iPad 2 and most apps runs quite well on it. Web browsing, social networks and mail work a charm as do most casual games. It will stutter on heavy duty gaming, though. Awesome for watching videos and reading. Even now. The challenge? Finding one.


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Five reasons to buy – or ignore – the iPhone 5

It is the most hyped device in the world right now, but do you really need to buy it? Well, as in all things human, it really boils down to what you want. So here is our rationale for grabbing an iPhone 5 – and for just plain ignoring it as well.

Go for an iPhone 5 If

You want one of the best phones in the world
No, we have not been bowled over by Cupertino’s formidable PR machine. The stark fact is that, whether you love it or hate it, the iPhone 5, is going to be the benchmark against which most phones are going to be measured for an year at least.

You want a great performing smartphone (budget no issue)
We are going to be blunt about this – the iPhone 5 is not likely to come with a super affordable price tag. But on the flip side, what you are likely to get for your money is a very smooth performer, and one of the easiest and most intuitive devices to use, which, with the right apps, can do almost everything your computer can.

You are an appy person
Love downloading and trying out new apps? The this IS the phone for you, as it is likely to attract the most innovative app content around. And no, contrary to the myths you hear, there are a lot of free apps available too.

You want a head turning phone
Love to flaunt your phone? Well, take it from us – there is not likely to be a more flauntable device around for a while. It is super slim, made of premium material and designed to stop tech – and sometimes, even normal – traffic.

You want a phone that lasts for a while
If you are the sort of person that hates switching phones, then the iPhone 5 is a very decent option, as it is unlikely to be outdated in technological terms for a while. Apple tends to keep updating software for its devices for a period of 2-3 years, so your iPhone 5 is likely to keep ticking over smoothly till about 2015. We can’t say the same for too many other handsets.

 

Do NOT go for an iPhone 5 If:

You have an iPhone 4S and are content
In terms of specs and performance, the iPhone 4S remains a very formidable device. And app support for it is likely to continue for a while. So you are not missing out on much.

You love Android or WP
No, we are not going to get into a “which one is better” debate here, but yes, if you prefer Android’s more open interface and apps or love Windows Phone’s tiled interface, the iPhone 5 is not for you.

You are a tech spec priest
If the words SUPER AMOLED, Quad Core processor, HD display, RAM and the like make you go weak at the knees, then steer clear of the iPhone 5. It is a powerful device, yes, but it is more about experience than tech specs.

You are not too high on apps
If you are the types that prefer using a phone for basic tasks and not mucking around with new apps, then believe us, you would be better off with another device. Apps are the real charm of the iPhone 5, even though it handles “normal stuff” like calls, text and mail superbly too.

You are on a tight budget
Yes, we know the iPhone 5 is likely to be a very good performer and among the best smartphones in the world, but it would be naive to deny that it is likely to be an expensive proposition, and is likely to cost around as much as a notebook.


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Portable media player? Grab the Nokia Lumia 610!

Yes, we know that it has been marketed as a smartphone, but we really think that anyone looking for a very good portable media player should consider the Nokia Lumia 610, rather than a “specialised” media player from some well-known brands.

Free music – for a year!
It does not really get better for audio-freaks. Not too many know that the Lumia range comes with an offer that lets you download music for a full year from Nokia’s Music Store – unlimited downloads. And the store has some awesome music in there, with millions of songs across genres and languages. So buy the phone, and don’t buy any music for a year – not so bad, eh?

Ease of use
We are going to go out on a limb here – the Windows Phone interface is one of the best we have seen on a portable device in terms of speed and ease of use. The tiled interface works with buttery smoothness and does not take too long to get used to.

Sound and picture quality
All right, it is not quite in Apple and Sony territory but slap on a good pair of headsets and the Lumia 610 delivers some very good sound indeed. And the 3.7 inch display is pretty good for video and image viewing.

Social network connectivity
Want to share what you are hearing or pictures over your social networks? Well, like all Windows Phone devices, the 610 comes with social connectivity inbuilt – so you can access Twitter and Facebook seamlessly on it and even get updates on your homescreen.

The camera
The 610 does not sport the greatest shooter we have seen on a mobile device but it does more than we have seen in any of the so-called portable media players, including the very respectable iPod touch. You won’t retire your point and shooter but it will work just fine for those impulse and Facebook shots.

Preinstalled software
Right, we are not going to get into the iOS vs Android vs Windows Phone rivalry here, but of all three OSes, it is pertinent to remember that Windows Phone is the only one which comes with a preinstalled office suite (yes, MS Office’s mobile avatar) and in the case of the Lumia, with free maps and lifetime free voice navigation in multiple languages. No, you won’t get as many new apps to download. No, you won’t need to download too many if all that you want is a readymade all-in-one package.

All the add ons
Yes, yes, we know that you are looking mainly for a media player, but you would not REALLY mind it if it made phone calls? AND accessed the Internet? AND acted as a GPS navigator.

The price
At Rs 12,999 (you can get it for Rs 12,000 at some places), the Lumia 610  is pretty solid value for money for its spec-set. Big screen, good sound, good build, 8GB storage, great connectivity…and a year’s free music. Not bad at all


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Ordering a Kindle Fire from India? Do NOT!

They might have grabbed all the headlines and might be seen by many as rivals to the iPad, but if you are India, investing in one of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets is NOT one of the wisest things you could do. Why? Well, consider these four reasons:

App Store will not work
Imagine an Android device in which you cannot download and install new applications. Well, that’s what the Kindle Fire will be in India, because India is not supported by Amazon. And before you ask, no, the Kindle Fire does not come with Google Play, the official Android app store that comes with almost all Android devices – and you cannot install it either. You can work around this but for that you will need a credit card from a country that supports the App Store.

Will not be able to purchase music or videos
It is not just apps that you will not be able to get on your Kindle Fire, if you use it in India. You will also not be able to purchase any music or videos to play on the device from the Amazon store, and transferring them from other sources is not going to be easy either. Even if you get it registered abroad, it will sense that you are in India and will not let you download music or videos.

No Amazon Prime
One of the charms of the Kindle Fire is that it comes with the Amazon Prime service, which gives you unlimited access to a massive library of video and lets you borrow and lend books from and to other Amazon Prime members. Every Kindle Fire comes with a free month of Amazon Prime services. No, it does not work in India.

No warranty
This is a no-brainer – if you get the Kindle Fire in India, you will not be able to avail of Amazon’s official warranty, as the device has not been officially released in the country. If something goes wrong, do NOT expect Amazon to come and bail you out.


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The iPhone 5 Gets Our High Five!

There is a section of the tech community that seems to firmly believe that the iPhone 5 is a disappointment and nothing revolutionary. Not us. We think it does more than enough to be considered one of the best phones in the world. Check out our five-pronged case

The build and design
It is insanely thin at 7.6 mm and is still made of premium metals, unlike some of its plastic-based rivals. It’s been a long time since we saw a phone that looked and felt so good. This is one flaunt worthy tech devil, this is.

The display
A bigger, 4.0-inch display with a markedly higher resolution than its predecessors, even while being 326 ppi. You know videos and images are going to dazzle on it, and text is going to look crisper than a Chennai Poppadum on it.

Better specs
Yeah, yeah, we know the iPhone is more about experience than about specs, but better specs do not hurt, do they? In this case, the A6 processor is supposed to be twice as fast as its predecessor, which was no slouch either. Throw in support for LTE, more microphones, better headphones (EarPods), a tweaked camera, better battery life and you can be assured of one thing – this device is going to perform faster than its predecessors.

The UI and apps
At the end of the day, the real magic of the iPhone is its incredibly simple and intuitive UI and those amazingly brilliant apps that let you do just about anything on the device. Well, the UI has been improved (iOS 6 is coming) and the better hardware should encourage the development of better apps as well. Heck, even the existing ones will run better!

The price
Yes, you read that right. The unlocked version of the iPhone 5 will start from $649 – the same as the iPhone 4S did.  No, we do not think that makes it a super affordable device that will fit into every budget – it never was that, anyway. Still, when you consider the number of changes that have been made to it, the fact that it comes without a price increase even in these crazily inflationary times, surely counts for something. We just hope it does not get bumped up to crazy levels in India


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Five Awesome Books That Cost Lesser on the Kindle

If you thought that ALL e-books cost more than their paperback editions, think again. As e-books become more popular, their prices are dipping. Witness these five titles, each a cult in its own right, and each costing lesser to read on a Kindle than on buying in paper form: (we are considering the book prices of the Kindle editions, as that is the most popular e-book reader in the world. All paperback prices are approximate ones, and could change.)

Rise and Fall of Third Reich by William L. Shirer
Paperback price: Rs 850
Kindle edition price: Rs 458

William Shirer’s book on Nazi Germany is considered one of the best works on the subject. With good reason. There is a wealth of detail in this massive tome. And it is brilliantly written. A must for all those interested in Hitler, the Nazis and the Second World War.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Paperback edition: Rs 750
Kindle edition price: Rs 602

Suzanne Collins surprised the world when her books on the story of teenager Katnis Everdeen who lives in a futuristic world and gets selected in a tournament in which poor contestants battle it out to the death for the entertainment of the rich. Grittier than Harry Potter, just as riveting.

Fred Trueman: the Authorised Biography by Chris Waters
Paperback price (available mainly in hardback in India): Rs 1500
Kindle edition price: Rs 501.62

The book that has been winning accolades all over the world for its affectionate and yet unbiased view of one the world’s greatest and most colourful cricketers. It has in fact not even made it in hardcover format to most of the stores in India, which makes the e-book edition even more of a deal.

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
Paperback price: Rs 750
Kindle edition price (books have to be bought separately): Rs 660

Stieg Larsson’s trilogy revolving around journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker and maverick Lisbeth Salander has captivated readers all around the world with its mix of action and thrills. And you can get the entire set in e-book format at a much lower price than the paper edition.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazucchelli
Paperback price: Rs 675
Kindle edition price: Rs 465


Imagine Batman as visualised by the man who gave us the brilliant, epic 300? Well, Batman: Year One is just that. And it is unlike any graphic novel or film you have seen about the Dark Knight. Honestly, we think it even makes Chris Nolan’s films look very ordinary. Yes, THAT good.


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The Best Kindle of Them All?

Kindle Keyboard 3G

Notwithstanding all the chatter about Paperwhite displays and touchscreens, we still think that the veteran Kindle Keyboard 3G is the best Kindle of them all, when it comes to reading e-books. Check our five-point rationale: (more…)


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Dude, Which is My Kindle?

There are five (yes, we counted them) Kindle e-book readers available from Amazon right now. Which one works best for you? Here’s our insanely simple primer:

Kindle


What rocks: The $69 price
What does not: The no keyboard, no touchscreen navigation.
Grab it if: You are on a really tight budget and are likely to just read stuff on it, and not browse for new books or make notes and all (more…)


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Five reasons why we will – and won’t – dump our camera for the Nokia 808 PureView 808


The jury is still out on whether Nokia’s 41.0-megapixel sensor toting 808 PureView is good enough to replace a digital camera (no, we do not think it threatens DSLRs even remotely, so we will not get into that argument). We must confess we find ourselves divided between the ayes and nays in this regard, and are still making up our minds on whether we will dump our digital camera in favour of the cameraphone or we will not.

Why we will go for the 808!

Convenience
Let’s face it, it is pretty handy to have your phone double up as a camera. One lesser gadget to carry, right?

Connectivity
Inbuilt 3G, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth means we can share our pictures with almost anyone in the world within an Internet connection within seconds of taking them. Tempting!

Super large shots, HD video
When was the last time we had a camera that could fit into our pocket and take massive 38.0-megapixel shots. This is a postermaker, this is. And it does full HD video too.

Inbuilt editing and apps
The 808 PureView is a smartphone – so you can install apps on it to browse the Net, edit pictures, share them on Facebook, play games, et al.

Lossless digital zoom
As long as you are shooting in PureView mode and your image size is five or eight megapixels, you can zoom in digitally, without losing any of the image quality. Closest thing we have seen to an optical zoom in a camera phone

Why we won’t abandon our digital camera yet!

The optical zoom
Lossless digital zoom is fine up to an extent, but even it cannot really compensate for having a good optical zoom, if you are a photography purist.

Shoot and zoom is not intuitive
One of the charms of the phone is that you can take one massive picture and zoom into it to find interesting features. Neat. But not intuitive. Most photographers tend to zoom first and then shoot.

Speed of operation
In terms of sheer speed of operation, be it focussing, starting up or zooming, most high-end digital cameras still work much faster than the 808 PureView.

Interface
The idea of using a touchscreen might sound exciting but when it comes to photography, twiddling with onscreen controls is a much more difficult task than dealing with physical buttons, as are seen in most point and shooters.

Price
At Rs 33,000, the 808 PureView costs more than most entry-level DSLRs and even high-end point and shooters. For that much, one could get a good point and shoot device as well as a good smartphone!

As you can see, it is a tough call at the moment of writing. If you have an opinion or would like to help us make up our minds, we would be ever so grateful!


A tablet for less than Rs 20,000? Try these five!

The sub-Rs 10,000 tablet market might be booming in India, but we must confess to being a...
article post

Five reasons to buy – or ignore – the iPhone 5

It is the most hyped device in the world right now, but do you really need to buy it?...
article post

Portable media player? Grab the Nokia Lumia 610!

Yes, we know that it has been marketed as a smartphone, but we really think that anyone...
article post

Ordering a Kindle Fire from India? Do NOT!

They might have grabbed all the headlines and might be seen by many as rivals to the...
article post

The iPhone 5 Gets Our High Five!

There is a section of the tech community that seems to firmly believe that the iPhone 5...
article post

Five Awesome Books That Cost Lesser on the Kindle

If you thought that ALL e-books cost more than their paperback editions, think again. As...
article post

The Best Kindle of Them All?

Notwithstanding all the chatter about Paperwhite displays and touchscreens, we still...
article post

Dude, Which is My Kindle?

There are five (yes, we counted them) Kindle e-book readers available from Amazon right...
article post

Five reasons why we will – and won’t – dump our camera for the Nokia 808 PureView 808

The jury is still out on whether Nokia’s 41.0-megapixel sensor toting 808 PureView is...
article post