May 172015
 

I am just a child in this world of master photographers. Though it had been my desire to take up photography as a hobby since I was a boy, I had to make do with point an click cameras back then due to bad finances. But around this time last year I bought the Canon EOS 1200D and have been clicking away ever since.

Further research on this matter of photography informed me that prime lenses are much better at taking pictures compared to the kit lenses. To keep matters economical, I zeroed in on canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens and was thinking about buying it just when canon went out an announced the 50mm f/1.8 STM prime lens, the successor and an upgrade.

This new lens is priced just around the old lens so basically canon is aiming to discontinue the old noisy, plastic mount lens. The old lens may be available for lesser price in coming days under clearance sales.

Meanwhile, people in India who wish to get their hands on the new stepper motor driven, metal mount lens can buy it at Amazon.

Salient features an upgraded of the new lens as below:

  • Stepper motor in lieu of micro motor used in old lens, less noisy during autofocus(Non-consequential during still photography unless you do not want the subject of the photo to realise. Still a welcome change
  • Full time Manual focusing capabilities (FTM) without flicking the autofocus switch.
  • Metal mount gives the lens more sturdiness.
  • Focus distance reduced from 0.45 m to 0.35 m. That’s 10 cm closer to the subject. Imagine what this will do to your macros.
  • Diaphragm blades increased from 5 to 7
  • 160g as compared to 130g in the old lens. But then it has the metal mount.

The lens elements have been kept the same but the lens coatings have been optimised to reduce light flare. A promising entry level prime lens for canon cameras. Sadly, image stabilisation may be missed when clicking without tripod.

Buy this at Amazon

Buy the older lens at Amazon

Other Lenses at Amazon

Mar 092015
 

An extended warranty on any products, is one of the most desired add on while buying a product. But many a times, poor marketing keeps us all in dark regarding any such offers running off season. Most of us tend to defer our purchases for special occasions like dussera, diwali, christmas and such other festivals considered to be auspicious time for purchase and gifts. So we don’t even bother to check out for such offers during other times.

We are actually displeasing goddess Lakshmi which is giving us an opportunity to save dhan. 

Anyway, to inform you, if you are planning to buy laptops this season, Lenovo is running an extended warranty program which they call as peace of mind program, which gives you two years additional warranty extension for either free on some models or for heavy discounts on other models. The offer if open for laptops bought till 31st march 2015 and registered before 15th April 2015. Following are the details

Lenovo Peace of Mind offer for B series Laptops

This offer gives you the peace of mind for a total of 3 years from the date of purchase by extending your warranty by additional 2 years for FREE.

The offer is valid on following laptops:

  • B4030
  • B4070
  • B5070
  • B490
  • B590

Note that the purchase has to be made from selected retailers listed below:

Offer valid for Laptops listed above purchased from 27th December 2014 to 31st March 2015.

All you need to do is that once you purchase the laptop, go on to lenovowarranty.in, fill up the form, upload *.jpg, *.jpeg or *,gif format scanned copy of the invoice and the serial number label on the outside of the box and wait for their confirmation email. This process will usually take 21 days.

Lenovo Peace of Mind offer for Other Laptops

Surprisingly listed on other webpages, this was communicated to me by Lenovo staff by mistake. The offer stands such:

2 (1)

As indicated, The offers are classified in Premium Range(which gets free additional warranty), Mainstream Range(Which gets heavily discounted additional warranty) and Budget Range(With lesser discount on additional, albeit significant).

Following products are eligible for the above offers:

  • Y Series

a. Y5070

b. Y510 P

  • G series

a. G5070

b. G400 S Touch

c. G4030

d. G405

e. G500 / G500 S

f. G5030

g. G5045

h. G505 / G505 S

  • Yoga series

a. Yoga 2 13

  • Flex series

a. Flex 14

b. Flex 2 14

c. Flex 2 14D

d. Flex 10

  • S series

a. S 510 P

b. S 210 Touch

c. S20

Laptops purchased from following sources are eligible for the offer:

  • Purchases made from online website www.thedostore.com are eligible to avail the Lenovo Peace of Mind offer.
  • Purchase from E-Bay (Only for NDSL)
  • Amazon Purchase – If a customer purchases a machine from Rocky Marketing, DBM Marketing (Deal Kya Hai), Cloud Tail and Staples – Office Shop “only” then he will be eligible for Lenovo Peace of Mind Offer.
  • Purchases made from the Online Retail Website “Croma” are eligible to avail the Peace of Mind offer.
  • This purchases from websites Snapdeal as eligible – DBM Marketing – Deal Kya Hai & Staples – Office Shop will be eligible Lenovo Peace of Mind offer.

All you need to do is that once you purchase the laptop, go on to lenovopromo.net, fill up the form, upload *.jpg, *.jpeg or *,gif format scanned copy of the invoice and the serial number label on the outside of the box and wait for their confirmation email. To avail the offer the customer with valid registrations will have to make a payment of INR 1999/- OR INR 1499/-. Payment should make through a DD draw in favor of “Kestone Integrated Marketing Services Pvt Ltd”.

This offer is valid for laptops purchased from 1st Jan 2015 to 31st March 2015 with registration done before 15th April 2015.

So if you have planned to purchase a laptop, no time is as auspicious as now. Go ahead, buy it from Flipkart or Amazon. Prices at Amazon and flipkart tend to be the lowest.

Lenovo Laptops on Amazon 

Search for Lenovo Laptops on Flipkart

(Disclaimer : The author does not guarantee the availability of offer for all customer. The information above is merely fetched from the above mentioned websites and should act as guide. Buyers ere advised to read the terms and conditions carefully before making final purchase.

The author does not guarantee that the prices are lowest at Flipkart or Amazon but highlights the general trend. Buyers are advised to compare prices at other places before purchase.

Read offer terms and conditions for clarity)

Nov 132014
 

Floods of phones released every month, with India being attacked from all sides in this regards, it sometimes get difficult for Indians who are by now, spoilt for choice. Hundreds of screen sizes and as many hardware configurations has driven the online retail competition in recent times and more is set to come. Though Samsung, Nokia(now Windows), HTC and Sony were the safest bets in past, bravery is being demonstrated by Indians in accepting local brands like Micromax, XOLO, Spice etc.(most of them selling rebranded Chinese Phones) or even accepting chinese entrants like OPPO, Huawei, Xiaomi etc(very Popular in China). The smartphone killer, Oneplus One, is said to have generated so much interest in India that Oneplus has planned a full scale Indian base and the necessary staff for this is being manned. One important aspect which may be lagging is the after sales service in India.

Another company which is quietly making inroads into Indian market is Lenovo which has acquired Motorola just recently. It had launched quite a few impressively configured models in past but it has started gaining traction only in recent times. One such model very recently launched is the Lenovo Vibe X2 with the “Multilayered design for Multilayered life” as proclaimed by its punchline.

lenovo-smartphone-ideaphone-vibe-x2-main

The design and color combinations shout different layers without the need of handling the phone. The layers are actually fancy strips on the edge, but Lenovo also has some thing call Xtensions to transform the mobile boombox or a power reservoir. These Xtensions clip on the back plate of the phone, and though they increase the thickness by as much as 5.1mm, they are designed to serve their purpose. AS of now, the two extension layers announced are the Vibe X2 Speaker(JBL powered) which doubles up as a stand and Vibe X2 Battery which gives your phone the much need refueling stop on the go. A first of its kind by any manufacturer since all previous such addons were aftermarket 3rd party manufactured. Its not yet clear whether both the Xtensions can be attached together, which would make more sense since speakers will consume more power. Also no news on any other Xtensions under developement. Is this due to lack of ideas? Here are a few:

  • Electronic ink Screen Xtension( similar to one on Yota Phone)
  • 3D camera module Xtension
  • NFC Xtension
  • QWERTY Keyboard Module with Single line screen Xtension
  • Simple phone keypad Xtension if you need to call more often and don’t want to wakeup the screen
  • External Memory Card Xtension
  • Various Combinations of above Xtensions to reduce thickness

What the heck. Am being creative.

Anyway, the phone packs some punch, albeit via MediaTek Chipset. Here are a few important hardware aspects.

Configuration:

Screen : 5″ IPS LCD, 1920×1080 full HD 5 point touch. No mention of a gorilla glass so be ready with a quality screen guard

SIM: Dual SIM(Micro/Nano)

Memory: 2 GB RAM, 32 GB ROM, No external memory card adapter.

Chipset: MediatTek MT6595m True8Core

CPU: Octa-core 2.0 GHz

GPU: PowerVR G600

Camera: Primary 13 MP, Secondary 5 MP(Are they significant or just numbers? real world tests will tell)

Connectivity: The usual Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, USB along with 2G, 3G and 4G

Pros:

Price: Rs. 19,999 in India which makes it quite competitive

Size: Just the right size that sells in India at this moment

Display: Full HD display

Connectivity: 4G connectivity will enable people to access 4G network which is to be launched soon

Horsepower: Latest MediaTek chipset which boasts of battery saving features.

Cons:

Display: No Gorilla Glass

Memory: No provision for external SD

Xtension: Only two Xtensions without any information when they will be out for sale

Layer: The screen layer is bit smaller then the border and person using the phone one handed will feel it on his thumb base.

Battery: Built in

OS: Android Kitkat 4.4

All in all the phone seems to be good for the price point. That’s being demonstrated by the high demand on flipkart. But then flipkart seem to have struck the sweet spot in advertising and creating a hype, so much so that Xiaomi, which was not well known before flipkart flash sell, is now a wishlist for many who are unable to lay their hands on it, sale after sale. A lot needs to be seen about its performance and of course the timely upgrades.

Nov 122014
 

Technology had advanced at a mind boggling pace, more so since the introduction of mobiles, and it’s inclusion into our lifestyle has invariably opened up our homes to the world. Top tech firms are known to “mine” user data in as simple form as a cookie. This data is later used for financial gains to ultimately please their shareholders. This, though anticipated, is not excusable. There is an ongoing war against privacy invasion via digital media.

Mindless to all the protests, tech firms keep on introducing such privacy invading features in their applications/websites. One such latest update is the double blue tick in whatsapp chat.

image

Some might argue what’s the big fuss about. So lets see how it functions.

When you send a message to your contact on whatsapp, once it is delivered to the whatsapp server a small tick appear on the bottom right corner of the chat message. Once your contact receives it on his/her phone, another tick is added and now you have a double tick, signifying that the message has been delivered to your contact. In past, you had no way of telling whether your friend has read the message. This was ok since the transmission of message was more important.

But introduce a double tick which signifies that your friend had read the message and the scenario changes. You expect a reply. Your friend has chosen not to reply at that moment. You start the seemingly never ending wait for the reply, while your friend is busy with something important and chooses to finish this conversation later. Meanwhile, you come up with all the possible reasons, including neglect on the part of your friend, while the time starts weighing on your mind. Meanwhile your friend is busy in an important business meeting and doesn’t realise all this. But does he need to realise?

Repeat this scenario and one day you start feeling that your friend is not longer your friend.

Whats the need of this feature. Why should anyone know whether I have read his message or not. I can take my own sweet time to reply. But, Whatsapp, through this tiny feature, is forcing me to either reply to all the messages that I read, or quit whatsapp alltogether. I checked the settings but couldn’t find any that could disable this feature.

Now don’t say that I should get lost from whatsapp. The company itself wouldn’t say that publically fearing drastic reduction in its valuation.

Wakeup whatsapp. Give us our privacy.

Oct 262014
 

No, there is not mistake. Yes, the title says Dual Screen phone. Not the dual SIM phone which you are very much used to reading.

Flipkart , a couple of days back, has exclusively launched the Yota Dual Screen Phone in India.But then there were few other phones in past which had two screens(big or small). So whats different about this one?

The world has moved on from wired lines(I still use one, but primarily for ADSL connection) to wireless big bricks which could just exchange calls and SMS to java then symbian and now to Android/iOS/Windows at this moment. The phones have first reduced in their form and after reaching the miniature possible, have started increasing in form, more so due to the nature of interaction. Technology has advanced.

What had been lagging all along the evolution is the ability of the battery to satisfy the hunger for power of these mobile phones. The iphone has been able to have an upper hand in this regards, but ultimately it too dies off.

The biggest culprit of this power consumption is the mobile screen. The need to keep the screen illuminated in case of TFT screens results in short battery life. The compromise is to reduce battery brightness, thus affecting the visual experience or, less use of phone, thus conflicting with its purpose.

Yota Devices has come up with an innovative idea to help solve some part of the problem. They have introduced a dual screen phone, called the YotaPhone. You would say that the problem has doubled!

Well, that’s not so. The Yotaphone is an android based smartphone in a bar form factor with screens on both sides. The primary screen is a normal 4.3″, 1280 X 720 pixel, IPS LCD display capable of displaying 16 million colors. Nothing out of the world there.

The second screen is the USP of this phone, along with the things it can do. The second screen is a 4.3″, electronic paper display with 640 x 360 resolution and 16-grayscale color reproduction ability.  It is the always on type of display which cannot be blacked out like your normal screen. The important feature of this e-paper display is that once anything is displayed on the screen, it does not require any power to sustain it on the screen. The power consumption takes place only when the screen is changed with new contents. This technology is being currently used successfully by e-book readers(Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook) which boast a battery life of somewhere around 3-4 weeks.

Now, who would want a grayscale screen on a high end mobile? Well, Answer few questions.

  • Do you need to read your SMSes on color screen?
  • Do you need to get alarm notifications on color screens?
  • Do you need to check your stock prices on color screen?
  • What about weather. Do you want to view weather updates/news on color screen(unless the news contain graphics which need to be seen in color)?
  • Do you read your ebooks color screens?

I guessed not. You spend lots of time on your mobile screen doing all the above activities. But do these activities really justify the use of power hogging color screen? If not, the YotaPhone is for you.

Make no mistake of undermining the abilities of this phone with its main screen on. The phone packs punch in the following manner:

Processor :Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 1.7GHz dual core

RAM : 2 GB

Memory : 32 GB

Connectivity : 2G, 3G, 4G, USB, BT, Wifi(all latest standards)

Camera 13 MP with Autofocus and flash capable of 1080p video at 30 fps and a secondary 1 MP camera

GPS : A-GPS, GLONASS

Primary Screen : Full touch screen

Second Screen : Touch zone under the display for control gestures

OS : Android 4.2.2(Jelly Bean)

Battery : 1800 mAH (The manufacturers are confident that you will love the electronic paper display)

As you can see the phone is at par with many mid-range phones. The cost, at Rs. 23500, may seem prohibitive but the battery boast, if used in the fashion that this phone is meant to be used, may help you overlook the cost.It may feel odd at first but compare it with nokia N-gage and you will feel at home with YotaPhone.

So if you are in a process of buying your next phone, take a look at this one. It may be the one you want.

Pros:

Promise of good battery life

Good specifications

Makes a tech statement

Flipkart support

Cons:

No real world feedback as yet

No word on updated to the OS

Cost bit high for these specifications(But then, money is not everything)

Buy YotaPhone at Flipkart

Oct 112014
 

I handle my phone in a ruthless fashion. Right from the day I bought my Galaxy SII till today, the “settings” icon of my android phone has been the most accessed icon. I try to extract every ounce of computing power available in the phone and in doing so, I’ve become a fan of flashing and installing customised ROM. My phone is about 2 years old and provided I get proper updates, I feel it will be good for one/one and a half year more. The next phone I buy may not be the flagship at that time but will surely be a top end one, probably something like the Oneplus One.

Not so with my wife. She uses it for all the basic needs like calls, messaging and light entertainment and such stuff. So pouring a good amount of money into mobile purchase is not an idea she likes. But whatever you do, your mobile is a hardware which after some time, and constant mishandling(read throwing on the ground in an attempt to break it in to pieces) by our two year old kids, stops working the way it should. That’s what happened with my wife’s phone about a week back. Luckily the big billion day was around the corner and this auspicious day(an auspicious day for e-buyers) I bought a Motorola Moto E for my wife. On a regular selling price of 6999 rs I got a discount of 1500 rs so the final price on that way came out to be 5499 rs. Received the delivery of the phone two days back even with the huge amount of orders that flipkart had with them, so this was a commendable job. Keep it up.

Anyway the point is, I have the Moto E in my hand and here’s the review.

Unboxing

The Moto E comes in minimalistic packing.

IMG_20141011_104436

Upon opening up the box, the Moto E glares at you right away.

IMG_20141011_104511

The box contains a Moto E handset with battery built in(no user replaceable battery), a charging kit, a hands free kit and the necessary startup leaflets. Gone are the days of the software cd and bulky booklets. An unsurprising omission is that of a data cable since at this price point, it would be hard to squeeze in.

IMG_20141011_104703

The backside

For inserting the Micro SIM cards and Micro SD card, you need to pull off the back plate by prying in your fingernail at the charging port. Motorola warns against using tools as it might damage internal components. Motorola also instructs to use more force without hesitation. The trick is to use index finger nail for opening up the cover while using the thumb to press the Motorola logo on the cover.

IMG_20141011_112721

Upon removing the cover, you will find the two SIM slots and a micro sd slot one below the other on the right side. Also notice that the battery is enclosed inside the casing.

Around the Phone

On the top the phone has a standard 3.5 mm hands free pin port and a pin hole for secondary mic. On the right it has the power/lock button and the volume rocker. At the bottom it has a micro usb port for charging and data transfer. The front face has two metallic strips, one on top and another on bottom which are for the speaker and the mic.  No other physical buttons all around. The camera is housed on the back, centered, without a flash.

Specifications

The important specifications are as below:

CPU : Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 on Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 with Adreno 302(decent enough)

RAM : 1 GB

Internal Memory : 4 GB(2 GB available for user, supports 32 GB expandable memory)

SIM : Dual SIM dual standby

Camera : 5MP primary(no secondary)

OS : Android 4.4.2 upgradable to 4.4.4(upgrade already seeding)

Screen : Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 4.3”, 540 X 960 pixels

Detailed specifications at gsmarena

Usability

This phone is targeted towards beginners to the android world. Hence the price has to be kept below a certain value. The result will never be a feather light phone. But the weight gives a feel of sturdiness to the phone. My current phone is almost similar to Moto E in terms of processing hardware so I am happy that such is available for 1/5th of the price of my phone.

The phone once started, guides you through a setup wizard to get you ready. The user interface is minimalistic, hinting at a pure android experience apart from the standard motorola addons like the Moto migrate which is a boon if you want to transfer your old phone to any moto phone.

The device interface feels smoother. All the necessary google apps are inbuilt.Login with your google ID and you are good to go.

Competitors

Karbonn Sparkle V, Micromax Canvas A1, Spice UNO. These phones are google initiative to promote android to the Indian masses while helping local brands create a brand image. Though these manufacturers are well known in India, Micromax is the only company to have made a breakthrough in gaining confidence of the Indian massed.

Final Say

At this price point the phone is a good starting point for android beginners.

Buy Moto E here

Sep 212014
 

EDIT : NOW AVAILABLE!!

 

So how many of you Tech Buffs have been waiting for this. The motorola Moto 360, since its announcement couple of months back and the subsequent launch few days back, has made quite some waves, rather tsunami of waves in tech world. It has become an object of desire due to its superiorly crafted design and of course, the huge marketing.

But we all in India, as usual may not have been that excited, since Tech Giants are known to skip us for quite a huge period even after launch. So expecting Moto G to be available in India this early is unexpected.

Well, times have changed. Flipkart, once again, seems close to launching Moto 360 on its website. Currently showing “Not Availabe”, knowing Flipkart, you might even wake up tomorrow to check that its “Available”.

untitled

So if you want to be the first to gets your hands on to, or rather, get on your hands this smart piece of accessory, keep a sharp lookout on Flipkart. On my part, I will try to inform as soon as I get some hint.

Best of Luck!!

Sep 052014
 

At the beginning of this year, flipkart had been instrumental in launching the Moto G smartphone by Motorola. Those abreast with updates in the tech world, know how they sold those hot cakes. It was one of the best smartphones for that price point and it seemed to have throttled the necks of the budding newbies of the smartphone industry in India. I say seemed to have throttled because they are back to clean off the remains.

Moto G(Original), though customised for the Indian market with its dual SIM, still had few shortfalls. The screen at 4.5” was not competitive enough(as if), the camera lacked the luster and the lack of expandable memory support left the users wanting at times. But it was, and still is, a good phone with its latest hardware and updates.

But Motorola had other plans. It quietly went in to development of an upgrade, with people anticipating it to be a bit overpriced. Little did they know that Motorola would exceed their expectations.

Tonight, on Flipkart, Motorola launches, exclusively in India, the Moto G 2nd Generation.

 

Yes!! You see it correct. Motorola has priced it at Rs. 13000. That’s for a 16 GB, 5”, 8 MP Camera, 1 GB RAM with expandable memory model. And you are sure to get the OS updates from time to time. What else do you want. Moto G 2nd Gen is a real surprise. And right in time for the festive season.

Here are few key specifications(source flipkart)

    • Android v4.4.4 (KitKat) OS (Upgradable to Android L)
    • 1 GB RAM
    • Expandable upto 32GB (upgrade. previous N/A)
    • 1.2 Ghz Qualcomm Quad Core Processor
    • 8 MP Primary Camera and 2 MP Secondary Camera (upgrade. previous 5 MP)
    • Dual SIM (GSM + GSM)
    • 5-inch HD Screen (upgrade, previous 4.5”)

Knowing Flipkart, checkout the launch tonight, cause they are sure to sweeten the offer like they do with their other exclusive launches. Grab it while stock lasts tonight (flipkart website states launch tonight)

Click banner above or this link to view/buy.

For full comparison of the “old” Moto G and the latest one click here.

Aug 132014
 

We got our first Television in the 80s and were instantly hooked to it. Soaps, epics, news, films, sports and such proved to be thrilling and entertaining. But of all these, advertisements captured our imagination the most. 20 seconds of quick burst of the most vividly colorful, imaginative and sometimes, unknown to us, fake entertainment. At times, a film would be so boring that we would be waiting for the Ads to be played for some relief. All said, after many improvements in their bathing products and teeth cleaning pastes, my body still stays brown, my teeth are going bit yellowish. Yet each year, they come up with more improved products with additional “salts”, “Lemon” etc. All that remains to be added is some Tequila and we are all set. They are moving towards that direction by coming up with a “beer” shampoo.

Anyway…..

As technology changed so did change the methods of advertisement. They have upgraded from television to the web space (it’s the space on the webpage, intentionally kept empty for filling in the Ads) and even downgraded to illegal handbills posted on the insides of the railway cars, buses,……., ……, Public Toilets,…….. etc. All said, they have yet to upgrade their rationality, thoughtfulness, inter divisional coordination for the same company. Knowingly or unknowingly to them, or for some reasons unknown to me, they have come up with a competition of its kind, between two products from their own stables. And now are are going through the period of exclusive launches(launch of a product through one single distributor seller as against launch through multiple distributors, so as to create a hype, control the supply and show a pseudo-shortage due to exhausted stock)

I frequently scan the internet for good deals on various products and I happened to chance upon two “Exclusive” launches, one on Flipkart and another on Amazon India. Both the tablets are form Acer. Branded Iconia. One model A1 and another B1. Both exclusive launches but on different websites. And the advertisement for A1 says “why settle for B1 when you can go for A1”. Funny!!

A1

B1

Whether this campaign is created by Acer or by the individual online stores(in which case such an aggressive advertisement is justified) is unknown. The price difference is just Rs. 500 so I do not understand pitching both the Tablets at the same time.

Check the specifications comparison here.

This reminds me of formula one races where two drivers from the same team are allowed to compete against each other and ultimately it leads to a collision course.

BTW if you are interested to buy any of these two icons, they are available on Flipkart and on Amazon India

Jul 012014
 

If you reside in Mumbai and frequently travel on the newly launched Mumbai Metro, here’s your chance to taste the promotional free wifi service provided by You Broadband at few stations. All you have to do is switch on your device wifi and connect to the open WIFI @MUM METRO network.

Once connected it will follow the usual procedure of registration. Try to access a website through browser and you will land on their signup page wherein you give your phone number. Once the registration SMS is sent, you can start using the Broadband without waiting for any confirmation SMS(you will get none).

This facility is available only at Metro Stations(currently checked at Ghatkopar and Andheri Station and expanding further). It’s a promotional service and you may have to pay up in future to access it.

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