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Once upon a time touch screen phones were considered luxury. If they had 2MP cameras, they were worshipped, and if they possessed Wi-Fi, it was not meant for the middle class. All that is now passe. With the entry of the BIG 3 super hit phones, the Indian market just heated up to get exciting. So who are these three and what’s on offer? Find out more below.
Image source: www.gsmarena.com
The last one month has seen some hot launches in the smartphone market from none other than Research in Motion (RIM – Blackberry), Motorola, and Apple. Each has unleashed a turf war with their best selling products – the Storm 2 Blackberry touch, the Milestone, and the 3GS iPhone. A brief comparison of the specs are as below:
If we compare the Moto Milestone, and apple iPhone 3gs briefly with Blackberry Storm 2 9520, these are the features available:
|Features||Milestone||Storm 2||iPhone 3GS|
|Sensors||Yes||No proximity sensor||Yes|
|Internal memory||256MB||2GB !!||256 MB|
|3g Speed||Upto 10.2 Mbps !!||7.2 Mbps||7.2 Mbps|
|Camera||5 MP !!||3.2 MP||3.2 MP|
|Video||24 fps||24 fps||30 fps !!|
|Flash||Dual LED !!||LED||None|
|Processor||600 Mhz, lesser graphics||528 Mhz||600 Mhz, better graphics !!|
|GPS with maps||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Battery||1400 mAh||1400 mAh||1200 mAh|
From this comparison you can see that for the price point under question the best value for money phone would most naturally be the Moto Milestone. However, more of everything does not mean a better phone.
So which one must you consider? Well frankly, for me, these are my opinions considering I have or will be using atleast two among the three titans of smartphones, the storm and the 3GS.
For any comparison there have to be negatives, so here they are:
In SUMMARY, if you love core technology, want huge features for low price, with Google’s famed Android 2.1 OS, look no further than the Motorola Milestone. If you are the business conscious user who have been a fan of RIM and their products and appreciate their push email technology and still need other commonly found features, then the Storm 2 is a refreshing change from RIM with their touch based screen and surepress typing technology. The large memory, and slick business features will appeal the business community for sure. If you want ease of use, large amount of apps to chose from, and don’t mind the extra cost, for what you get in return – the famed apple popularity, at the cost of some missing features, then the iPhone 3GS is for you.
Take your pick, for now mine is the iPhone 3GS since I feel Google has some catching up to do with Apple. As for blackberry, I enjoyed it as long as I had it, and would recommend it even though I don’t own it now.
I was trying to use Gmail video chat and knowing google, i expected it to be really easy to configure and use. But i was in for a rude shock as my browser did not support the active-X control that I need for using video over gmail. For those of you who are curious, my browser is K-Meleon – the worlds fastest literally beating opera to it.
So I decided to give it a shot until it worked and so went back to Illegal Explorer (oops! IE). I hated IE all my life, and it was a browser only designed for MS and its own sites to load properly from day one. However within minutes I got the gtalk video activeX installed on my system for IE. Great I thought now video would work, since it showed a nice little video icon against my name. But when I contacted prakash, my friend, video would not work for him! I got him to install the same activeX control on his system, and even after that it would not work! Both of us were using Illegal Explorer, both of us had the activeX installed, and yet gtalk video would not work.
But on one fine day, I clicked against his name, when both our icons showed video mode, and viola, I could see him instantly. Since that day, my webcam stopped functioning, and if its due to google, then I hate you folks for screwing up my webcam. While i am still struggling to get my webcam going, what the other friend of mine and me saw were just my photo to one side of the screen at the bottom for me and on the video screen for him.
So there you go, as of now its a thumbs down for Gtalk video for the setup ease, but for quality, nothing beats it!
DO YOU HAVE ANY SIMILAR EXPERIENCE TO SHARE? GIVE ME YOUR COMMENTS!
Today I had the chance to install the new Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 beta, which claims to be better than (of course!) version 7. While I was installing it, I could not help noticing this dialog box
Under the express settings, I noticed that they are suggesting you to set the search provider to Google. Now MS being the company they are, wont do this inadvertently. So have they now officially agreed to the growing reality that there is no one to beat Google with their searching techniques? Your guess is as good as mine!
The advertisement in question that caught my eye is this: (source: TOI)
I immediately jumped at the thought of having a SUN DTH at home by disposing the earlier hathway connection, considering I am getting this offer at just Rs.499/-. One look at the asterisk (*) next to it prompted me to go right down to the ad again, where I was expecting a Conditions Apply, which indeed was there too!
I was further expecting they would ask me to sign up for atleast a year, but what I actually found was quite contrary to my expectations! Installation charges Rs. 1000 extra, + taxes (@ 12% of 499 bucks, which is almost another 50 bucks!
So there you go Sun Direct DTH is yours now for “just” 499 + 1000 + 50 = Rs.1550/-. Sun, who do you think you are hoodwinking? We are smart for all this guys. Try something else more genuine. Like adding Worldspace might sound like a better bet now that Airtel is giving us that!
I have been predominantly using three different types of remote desktop sharing programs, to either send files, or to help people with their pc problems or for just video/voice chat with some remote desktop usage (like shared whiteboards etc). I would like to point out those software here for reference so that others may benefit from it.
NetMeeting from Microsoft
This software by far has been the most common one I ve used until date for voice/video and remote desktop tech support. While I do like this software, I find that the remote option is extremely lethargic, slow and sometimes quite unintiutive. For more details you can visit here
CrossLoop is the name of a startup software company who are also into enabling remote desktop sharing and collaborating. Their software however is NOT a video/voice chat application. Their application is quite simple with either an ACCESS option or a SHARE option. While the former grants you right to access other’s machines, the latter grants you rights to enable others to access your machine. However it is to be noted that this application uses codes of some sort (typically a 12 digit unique code for that session), which has to be pre shared via other means to the second user to enable collaboration. I find this pretty unintiutive by nature. Take a look for yourself:
Once the codes are accepted both sides, then the software behaves pretty much like netmeeting itself. I must say here that it is slow however and has some fixed IP issues.
These days the routers that are used at home, have fixed local IP addresses. This means your IP address for the router is 192.168.1.1 and your PC/Laptop, etc could have addresses like 192.168.1.2/ 192.168.1.3, etc and so on and so forth. What this means is that there is a network created within the home, which is totally local. This also means all the devices on this network need a gateway address to access the internet outside. This is nothing but the address of your router (192.168.1.1). Your actual IP address could be something different such as 184.108.40.206. When a friend residing elsewhere tries to connect to your computer using the address 192.168.1.2, etc the connection is NOT established for obvious reasons that this address is local to you and cannot be reached from outside. So then if we try the address 220.127.116.11 to connect to (which is the real address of your system) even then remote desktop sharing software fail. In earlier days, we only had a USB modem which was assigned the actual IP address and hence people could remotely connect to you. But with routers the game is more difficult. So how then do we do remote desktop management ?
This is where services such as LogMeIn surface to help you out.
LogMeIn is a browser based program that links two computers anywhere in the world. How you use it is very simple. Just go to their website (www.LogMeIn.com) sign up for a user id, and then get into your account details. Here you can see a list of computers known to you. To add your friend’s computer, simply click on Add computer and you can add any computer you wish with logmein support. Also you can search for other people’s computer provided they have logmein installed. Click on the image below to see more:
Once you add a computer, and can see that computer on your list, connecting to it is very simple. Just click on it, enter a computer access code that you already know, choose connect and Viola!! You can see your friend’s desktop right within your browser and you also get to control it! I tried this website (under trial version) to urgently solve some critical connectivity issues on my aunt’s PC (thanks to the great aunt who let me experiment with her pc! ) and I could successfully access her PC with least effort and at the same time could solve installtion issues on her PC which was 350 miles away. It was a reassuring experience for my aunt no doubt. I did find the browser interface slow for refreshing, but I believe thats the bane of remote desktop management applications. There is too much of graphics to load each time a mouse movement even is made!
Here is the final proof of the pudding: (click for a bigger image)
To conclude, remote desktop sharing applications have come of age since the older NetMeeting, but nevertheless they have their own new age pros and cons that one has to be fully aware of. Its on a matter of time that these applications are hacked into by the new age crooks!
Help a friend, solve their problems using a tool such as LogMeIn. Teaching hands on will never be the same experience again.
I had been observing the DishTV service ever since my father in law installed it at his house a year back. However I did not have a chance to check on Tata-Sky service until now – that is until I myself was a victim of the satellite broadcasting hooliganism if I may use that word freely here. I am putting together my experiences on both of these services, before Airtel (Bharti) and Reliance IPTV launch their services in Bengaluru.
I kind of like writing informally, but I ll try to be as formal as possible with the comparions of course with pictures to aid you understand better.
I made a call to DishTV and I received the required answers almost immediately. They had both IVR options as well as direct customer rep talking to me, which made me feel good. At that time I did not intend to go for their connection, but nevertheless, someone from either Bangalore or Delhi always called me regularly to see if I was still interested in opting for their service. Finally I got it installed for my father in law under the freedom offer where for a given set of channels, other than box cost, he need not have paid anything anytime. With respect to retaining customers, Dish TV is making all efforts and I would give them 8/10 for their dedication in this respect.
Coming to Tata Sky, I totally made two calls for installation. While the first call was answered in about 3-5 minutes time, the second one had me waiting for almost 15 minutes before someone on the other end decided to pick up the call. Having said that, naturally as a customer I got really annoyed and made clear my feelings to them as well. My box arrived on May 30, and an installation was scheduled for June 3. Then I get a call on June 1 and the voice on the other side tells me (not asks me) – “We are reaching your house in 30 minutes, and you have to be there for installation of the box!” I mean what the hell ? I am not at home, and you just say you are coming by? Is this how you schedule installations? – I didn’t want to buy that argument and asked them to come on June 3 itself. Now this is when I casually made the second call on June 3 to find out if they are coming by. I have no answers until 15 minutes. To add to this misery a recorded voice on the other end goes on saying how I can SMS some code to them to order an ACTVE package, for my box that is not at all installed! The conversation went thus:
CustomerServiceRep(CSR): May I help you sir?
Me: Sure you can help me, how about changing that stupid SMS message details to some song or something more soothing so that I can wait in peace while you decide a right time to answer my call according to your astrological calculations.
CSR: Its a nice feedback sir, we will definitely consider it for your sake!
Me: And perhaps you can also have someone call me back if the estimated time for answering calls is going to be more than 2 minutes
CSR: Yes sir, good feedback again.
Me: Nowhere have I had a wait of more than two minutes for a rep to talk to me. Is this how you define customer service?
CSR: Sir, you are lucky, that I could get to you in fifteen minutes atleast. Earlier it used to take half an hour for such calls you see!
Me: I work with Tata and Sky, so are you trying to tell another insider like yourself the real story? Then why will people like DishTV not overtake us in competition?
CSR: Sir we dont consider Dish to be a competition at all. We are afraid only of Reliance, not even Airtel sir.
Finally the CSR hangs up thanking me for my feedback and promising installation on June 3 itself. At about installation time, 6pm, I get another call saying since its rainy and since the guy’s vehicle is not ok, he cant do the installation. I shout at him and ask him to finish it the next day and the next day they promptly complete the installation. I give Tata Sky 5/10 for their customer service. In one word, its pathetic and they have a lot of catching up to do.
Installation nitty gritties
The installation personnel wear proper uniform, and come with the complete set of necessary tools required to complete installation. Both providers bring the dish antenna, along with LNB and the wires required. They also carry power drills and enough clamps to secure wiring properly. While the DishTV antenna is oval and large in size, the Tata sky antenna is smaller and more circular in shape. The LNB however is similar.
Tata Sky antenna and LNB
DishTV antenna and LNB
While the DishTV antenna is able to be clamped only on top of walls, the TataSky antenna can virtually be clamped anywhere due to flexible moving clamps. Irrespective of terrain this antenna thus can be fit in most places which is a breeze. Also the entire wiring for DishTv is NEVER clamped anywhere, and it looks very clumsy, whereas the TataSky wiring is fully clamped securely to the wall making it more neater in terms of installation.
Tata Sky wiring (first) and DishTV wiring (second)
For installation, I would give DishTV 6/10 where as Tata scores higher at 8/10.
Set Top Box and Remote Control
I also did a comparison of both set top boxes (DTV and TS – TataSky). While the DTV box is called Zenega and is from a taiwanese company called Handan BroadInfocom Co., Ltd, the TS set top box is from Thomson Electronics, a french company which is the world leader in set top boxes at the moment. The Zenega box has RF in/out, a serial port (intended for interactive communication later on?) and also aux in and tv out along with CVBS out to output to TV. The Thomson box on the other hand misses out on Aux IN and serial port and only has basic RF in/out with CVBS. These are at the rear of the box. On the front side though I liked the TS box better since it has a concealed smart card slot which makes it more durable and out of reach of people who dont know whats in it. Also the LEDs for on/off and alerts are neatly arranged along with front side switches for other operations. The Zenega box on the other hand, has no smart card (atleast as far as what I could make it out to be) and has the front side buttons on the side stacked up vertically. Personally since I dont use these buttons much, its of less relevance to me where they are placed honestly! On box design, DishTV and Tata both score in their own ways, but total about 6.5 to 7 /10 if not more!
Tata Sky box:
Coming to the remote controls – this area is of extreme interest to me for a few reasons. I firmly believe that a remote must be user friendly, intuitive and most of all extremely simple and accurate to use. So I would naturally expect large keys to fit my fingers and a nice holding position for the remote itself. While the DishTV remote is too puny and rather obscure with most options too small to read for people with glasses, the Tata remote on the other hand is nice to hold, chunky, fleshy and intuitive. There are blue colored keys for important things and the others are black making it easy to use. However, Tata has chosen to name the buttons in a funny way such as having Organizer, Home, buttons as opposed to EPG or Menu buttons found on normal remotes. One thing I think a company must never do is to try and introduce new formats for something accepted and being used in the industry. One such gadget is the remote. Tata, please dont mess around with the names on the remote, they really irritate users at times. I am a set top box veteran and it pains to see such remote control labels which none can understand!
Tata Sky remote:
For design, I would give the Tata remote 8/10 and the DishTV remote only 6/10.
EPG (Electronic programme guide), menu and other screens and their usage
Having fairly large amount of expertise in this area, I found the Tata menu system a much better overall menu system to work with rather than the skimpy DishTV menu system. The EPG for instance on the Tata boxes is quite comprehensive and is in matrix format showing me multiple channels and multiple time lines. The EPG on the DishTV box however, shows me only one channel’s information at a time. Also the navigation button design is really horrible with respect to looks on this system. Tata on the other hand uses a highlight system which is more pleasant to use. This clearly shows DishTV has not been investing time and money to make that user experience well worth it yet. Tata with NDS’ software have ensured that nothing is left unturned to satisfy the user to the fullest level possible.
You can see some of the screens yourself and decide. While DishTV have a small PiP in place in the menu, Tata have chosen to cautiously ignore using it as we internally know that such features are prone to problems for the developers causing boxes to crash every now and then. The layout of the menu is much more organized in Tata Sky with useful information that we can always refer back to. There are help screens, with a dedicated help button on the remote and also account status screens, alerts, favourites and the list goes on and on. Look for yourself to see which is best! I would give 9/10 to Tata on their User experience and 6/10 to DishTV in this aspect.
Tata Sky screens:
Extras (Games, Quizzes, Stories and everything else under the sun)
So getting TV programs is no big deal. The set top box companies have to think that extra bit to make TV more interactive for children and adults alike. So what do they do? DishTV has an array of quiz programs and games which people can play. They are not exactly the most intuitive ones, but nevertheless you can kill some time with them. Tata on the other hand has ACTVE brand of games, story telling, news channels, religious darshans all bundled into the boquet of channels. While I personally did not like any of these much as they were pretty kiddish, I feel that they would still be of some use to children.
One has to remember that loading of these games or quizzes takes horrible amount of time, sometimes more than 2 minutes which is extremely annoying to any user even if he is a child. I personally feel set top box software development guys must stop including such time consuming applications on their boxes and stick to technology in terms of connectivity or video/audio format support etc. You cant please all at the cost of making the box slow. And thats not the only thing – non technical people like my mother and wife were easily able to hang the software on the Tata box without even pressing too many buttons. The software buckled just on entering and trying to play a game. Shame on you guys. Why did you throw caution during testing to the wind? Is it because we are Indians and would tolerate anything and everything? Wrong! Take notice before time runs out. Give us quality software at the least! If I were the testing coordinator releasing this box to customers, I would have failed the tests even before the box reached the store shelves.
Tata Sky ACTVE menu option screen (ACTVE stories)
Thankfully the DishTV software is more stable and does not crash often. I would give 6/10 to Tata for their ACTVE nonsense and about 7/10 for DishTV for their extras.
Packages, costs, boquets and brickbats
While DishTV is almost making their box cost zero (meaning offering the box to readers like you FREE of cost), Tata prefers to keep the cost at about 2,400 including installation charges of Rs.1000. Even servicing my Maruti Swift Car does not cost Rs.1000 and I wonder what is the great deal and brouhaha about charging users Rs.1000 under the guise of installation charge. Instead why not make DIY (Do it yourself) kits for users? So they may also learn and save money at the same time?
However one point to note is that the DishTV free box scheme still means you pay atleast 2,499 which is compensated by 3 months free subscription (which otherwise amounts to 300 * 3 = 900) + free movies worth 2,490. Now if I am neither a movie buff nor the movies available to view are not the latest it still means I am paying 1,599 towards the box alone which essentially means the box is not free.
For me a free box is something where I start paying monthly subscription alone with no installation charges, box charges or free movies or any other freebies. Consumers open your eyes and understand this simple fact. The profit margins are eroding for set top box companies, but still they come up with ingenious means of recovering the box costs! So remember – THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE LUNCH ANYWHERE IN INDIA!
Tata on the other hand has more reasonable schemes such as discounts for you if you refer friends and family members, like giving you monthly offs on the charges. Also upon bulk purchase for 12 months you get 2 more months free. The showcase movies package which promises movies worth Rs.4500 free is a raw deal just because the movies in showcase are not the ones you would love to watch always!
Tata Sky old pricing:
Tata-Sky new pricing:
Dish TV pricing for south and non south categories:
Additional boxes in one home for each extra TV and their costs
The Bane of today’s technology is that one box can work only with one TV even in 2008 ! Welcome to India! This country has still a long way to go by the time affordable multi tuner based server-client architectured set top boxes make it into homes (home gateway solutions). So lets review each providers scheme of things then for additional connections.
Tata Sky’s policies are simple here. Each additional box would cost Rs.1,499 with an installation charge of Rs.500 as opposed to Rs.1000, and the same package would cost Rs.125 more on each of the boxes at home. So this means the box cost remains the same irrespective of how many boxes you buy. So if I own 2-3 TVs realistically speaking, then I end up paying Rs.4,500 for the boxes alone which is a horrendous cost on me for a gadget that will depreciate in future sooner than later.
DishTV has a pricing of Rs.2,499 for each room with 3 months subscription discount. As stated earlier even if we subtract this amount of Rs.900 the remaining comes to Rs.1,599 for each extra box. Add a recommended installation fee of Rs.200 and what do you have? Rs.1,800 for each extra box. As compared to Tata, this is about Rs.200 lesser. But at what cost? You dont get the free movies for Rs.2,499 that you spend, and your subscription amount for second and subsequent connections remains as much as your first one: this means if I am paying Rs.300 for say Dish Maxi, for one connection, I end up paying Rs.900 for three connections.
Dish TV extra room equipment pricing:
Obviously its a no brainer that Tata sky is cheaper here. Dont get misled by free movies. You can always watch a paid movie at a theater such as PVR for a better experience! For this section I give Tata Sky an 8/10 and Dish TV 6/10.
Anomalies in transmission
While I have not seen much of DishTV lawsuits, arguments and counter arguments, Tata Sky seems to have gotten into some trouble with the sports channels, inviting their wrath by making customers pay for what has to have been free. After a bit of media bashing Tata seems to have calmed down and gotten back onto track to offer these sports channels once more.
Meanwhile DishTV has taken the opportunity to woo more customers when Tata was busy flouting broadcasting rules!
After all this only means broadcaster is king. No one likes to lose his money. And no one likes double crossing as well! Shame on you Tata Sky for this kind of gimmick. This was absolutely unnecessary. You can always earn this money in other ways – how about manufacturing more versions of indica until 2020 ? and testing it on the guinea pigs ?
Both the providers offer SMS based and internet based payment mechanisms which make life easy for customers. Even more easier is the remote control based payment and subscription which is the defacto standard in the industry today. In this respect both score 9/10.
So then friends, here ends the (hi)story of both the service providers. Now you are better informed to make good decisions! Safeguard your interests, think long term investment and look at what you need more proactively. If you like this article, share it with your friends so that they too benefit from it.
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Yesterday I was a bit annoyed and frustrated with my office work and I was driving back home without any interest in reaching home as such. When I was at the Marathahalli junction, I remembered my discussion earlier in the day about a Canon Pixma All-in-one Printer that I was about to buy. Since Staples was just around the corner, and I had not investigated () the shop yet, I thought let me stop over and check out how I could burn down 10000 bucks as soon as possible.
I did manage to get car parking there and I entered the shop. I must say I was really feeling pleasant to find finally that our city did have a comprehensive stationary shop such as Staples. The items themselves were neatly arranged, with a lot of variety and there were atleast 3-4 salesmen to assist you with what you want, although I found that as being pushy with me.
I can go on and on with the way the items are arranged, the sheer number of items etc, but I prefer to just say here that you will surely not be feeling bad that you went there. In fact you would be pleasantly surprised.
In the given 20 minutes that I stayed there, I wanted to make a decision on the printer and a laptop. This in essence is what I wanted to buy.
Image courtesy : Canon Hong Kong
The street price of this all in one is Rs.7,500/- + taxes, but at Staples, I am getting the same offering at Rs.6,500, which is a cool deal. We did have a discussion at our office on the pros and cons of HP versus Canon for printers, and concluded that HP is putting in its development costs into the printer, while Canon sounded more reasonable for the same set of features. But I however ran into one problem buying this yet : My wifey! She was waiting with a gun at my home to shoot me if I ended up with this printer, mainly because of very less space at home to keep such things. So I gave up on buying it at the moment and will look into buying this next month.
I however could not stop myself from buying this – a fully rubberized, water proof, dust proof, noise proof, bend proof, usb keyboard from Enter Multimedia. I was not exactly convinced about this yet, when I saw it, but I am a person who encourages technologies such as this.
One look at this keyboard made me lap it up for just Rs.450/- ($11). Move over the great Samsungs, Logitechs, here is a new innovative, young company called Enter Multimedia which has done the most needed thing to keyboards. It does take a little time getting used to this keyboard, but once done, you are gonna love this cute thing! Open it to work, close it to go to sleep, pretty neat isn’t it ?
Child proof, spill proof, dust proof, bend proof, water proof, noise proof, need I say more? My child now sleeps in peace, while I work in peace. Both of us are not disturbed by each other.
My sincere request to technology product creators : Think, and Ease out our life with your products dudes!
Technorati Tags: Life in Bengaluru, Technology, Staples, Marathahalli, Enter multimedia, Samsung, Logitech, Keyboard, Rubber, Foldable, Waterproof, Dust proof, Noise proof, Canon pixma mx308, All in one, Printer, Scanner, Copier, Fax, Hong kong, India, Bengaluru, Bangalore, Blog, HP, Officejet, Wonderbox, Products, Technology