Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

>Airtel joins tata sky and gives alacarte option for DTH TV services

January 20, 2011

>

Bharti Airtel’s DTH service, airtel digital TV on Tuesday said it will offer its subscribers the option to pick and choose channels they wish to watch.
“The initiative will empower the Airtel digital TV customers to create their own channel packages, with cost of individual channels starting from Rs. 3 onwards,” the company said in a statement.
It, however, added if a customer opts for the a la carte option, there would be a minimum charge of Rs. 150 plus service tax or actuals whichever is higher.
“The early introduction of our a la carte offerings enhances choice and convenience for our customers who can now either go in for a la carte or choose from our wide range of monthly base packs, or have a mix of other channel packs on a base pack,” Bharti Airtel Director and CEO (DTH Services) Ajai Puri said.
The company said it has announced the a la carte pricing of all the 198 linear channels available on its platform, effective January 1, 2011.
Currently, rival TataSky offers the a la carte option.
Airtel digital TV has over 4.9 million customers and is one of the leading national level DTH service in the country.
It launched its services in October 2008.

>Verizon iPad On The Way Though no date or price yet specified

January 12, 2011

>AT&T officially lost their exclusive rights to the iPhone earlier today, and it looks like the same fate awaits their exclusive HSDPA-embedded iPad arrangement. According to Bloomberg News, Verizon will soon sell a version of the iPad with an embedded chip allowing the device to connect directly to the Verizon network. Previously, Verizon only sold the iPad with a bundled MiFi hotspot for between $629.99 and $829.99. Speaking to Bloomberg, Verizon CFO Francis Shammo confirmed the device was coming to Verizon, but didn’t specify a price or date. Bloomberg also doesn’t specify whether the device will be CDMA/EVDO only, EVDO/LTE dual mode, or LTE only. Verizon’s upcoming version of the iPhone will be CDMA only, something Apple says is because an LTE version would “force some design compromises that we wouldn’t make.”

>LCD TV vs LED TV

December 31, 2010

>TV buy guide

LED TV is a bit of a misnomer but as manufacturers and retailers continue to use the term, it makes it's way into the public conscience and is worth deliberating on the differences. LED televisions are really just LCD televisions that use LED lights for back lighting instead of the flourescent CFL lighting traditionally used for LCDs. Both employ the liquid crystal diode (LCD) technology front panel containing the “twisting crystals” which define LCD technology.

LED TVs feature two main forms of back lighting, edge lighting and local dimming. Edge lighting has LEDs around the edge of the panel and this allows for extremely thin construction. Lately, through advancements in LED (light emitting diode) technology these lights can be manufactured in very small sizes so even local dimming back lighting LED TVs can have a very thin depth. Local dimming backlighting features banks of LED lights behind the panel and these banks can be controlled to lower the amount of back lighting in dark areas of the screen and raise it in bright areas for higher contrast and better blacks. This is accomplished through varying features options in the TV. One recent example had an option to turn the local dimming option on or off. We did notice an improvement in black levels with the feature on.

PICTURE CONSIDERATIONS

CONTRAST / BLACK LEVELS

LCD panels create dark tones by blocking the backlight passing through the panel, this method of displaying black has been a problem inherent in the technology. Local dimming LED back lighting presents a solution to this problem by dimming the back light in areas where the screen should be dark. Edge lit LED will have brighter whites than most flourescent back lit LCDs but do not have the control over the backlighting like local dimming TVs do.

This comparison has become muddied lately with some LCD TVs showing very concentrated black levels. Local dimming LED TVs have been the best in the past.

ADVANTAGE: 1st Local dimming LED TV technology has an advantage in both contrast and black levels. 2nd Some recent LCD TVs. 3rd Edge Lit LED TVs

COLOR ACCURACY

With white LED backlights the difference between the two technologies isn't very significant, but with RGB colored lights or a color wheel to affect the backlight color the LED TVs have an advantage in displaying realistic color.

ADVANTAGE: White backlight LED TVs and LCD TVs with flourescent backlight are nearly equal in color accuracy. Colored backlight LED TVs trump both.

Read Full Post

>Apple iPad facing stiff competion from Android

November 20, 2010

>

Tablet computers using Google Inc’s Android-based system will steal some sales from Apple Inc’s iPad and hold 15.2 per cent of the market in 2011, industry tracker IMS Research said.

The firm said in a report that over 15 suppliers will sell Android-based tablets by mid-2011, including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Acer Inc, Cisco Systems Inc and Dell Inc.

On the strength of those devices, IMS projected that Android will command 15.2 per cent of the tablet market in 2011. And that will grow to 28.4 per cent in 2015, IMS said.

Samsung has said it plans to sell 1 million of its Galaxy Tab tablets this year, according to Nikkei business daily.

“The availability of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet via mobile carriers such as AT&T in the US will quickly boost Google Android’s presence in the tablet market,” Anna Hunt, the IMS report author and principal analyst, said in a statement.

Research firm iSuppli expects 15.6 million tablets to ship this year, with 13.8 million of those being iPads, which got a head start on the competition with a launch in April.

Next year, 57.3 million tablets are expected to ship with the iPad making up 43.7 million of those units, iSuppli said. Companies competing against the iPad by bringing out a new tablet must contend with the fact many application developers are gearing their products to the iPad’s specifications, said Rhoda Alexander, an analyst with iSuppli.

The IMS Research report also notes that technology companies Research in Motion Ltd and Hewlett Packard Co have invested in operating system technology for tablets. As a result, IMS forecasts that, in 2011, 7.8 per cent of tablets shipped will run on operating systems other than Apple OS, Android or Microsoft Corp’s Windows.

>IT news:Promoters may exit Patni

November 20, 2010

>

The promoters of Patni Computer Systems and a private equity investor have revived attempts to sell their over-60 % stake in the country's sixth-largest software exporter after scaling down expectation of a price per share far above the current one, two people with independent knowledge of this deal said.

A mix of private equity firms and so-called strategic buyers have evinced interest in buying the holdings of the owners of Patni, three brothers—Ashok, Gajendra and Narendra Patni—and General Atlantic, the private equity investor. Three PE funds, Apax Partners, Carlyle Group and Advent Advisors are in the fray while Japanese firm, Hitachi, and two European firms are the strategic bidders, a term often used to distinguish companies from private equity or other financial investors.

Read Full Post

>Google coming up with Instant previews feature soon

November 11, 2010

>

People searching on Google will soon be able to see previews of websites before clicking on them.

The “Instant Previews” feature is meant to help people bypass websites that are either irrelevant or simply too visually cluttered for their tastes. It works for Google Web searches, as well as searches for news, video and local businesses.

After clicking on an icon of a magnifying glass, people will see a picture of the website in the white space to the right of the search results within a tenth of a second. Although the preview photo will vary in size, just as Google Inc’s image results do, Google designed the previews so that they’ll never eclipse the search results and clutter the page.

Google will also show a box above the picture zooming in on the section of the website where the search terms appear. The search terms will be highlighted in that box.

While someone looks at a picture of a website, Google will load visual previews for other search results in the background so that people can quickly compare websites by rolling the cursor over the results on the page.

The feature is a follow-up to Instant Search, a feature Google unveiled in September that updates search results as people continue typing. Last week, Google said that people who own an iPhone or a smartphone running Google’s Android software can use Instant Search too.

Google said it is introducing visual previews because word-based search results can only tell someone so much about what a website holds in store. People who use Google can already read short snippets from a site before they click on it, as well as, say, the date a news story or article was published.

All told, Google claims that people who use Instant Previews are 5 per cent more likely to feel satisfied with the website they chose.

Google will roll out Instant Previews in 40 languages over the coming days.

>Apple adds 12,600 new jobs in one year

November 8, 2010

>

iPhone maker Apple increased its headcount by 12,600 employees for the year-ended September, as the technology giant strengthened its research and development activities, the company said in a recent regulatory filing.

Well known for its innovative product lines — iPhones, iPods, Mac computers and iPad — Apple saw its headcount rise 34 per cent to 49,400 in the year ended September 25. In the comparable period, the same was at 36,800.

“As of September 25, 2010, the company had approximately 46,600 full-time equivalent employees and an additional 2,800 full-time equivalent temporary employees and contractors,” the filing said.

The substantial increase in the employee strength came at a time when the Steve Jobs-led entity saw its annual revenues soar to USD 65.23 billion.

In the year-ended September 26, 2009, Apple had 34,000 full-time employees and an additional 2,500 temporary employees and contractors.

Apple’s recruited thousands of employees at a time when many companies worldwide were either trimming their staff strength or going slow on hiring activities.

According to the filing, the rise in headcount also pushed its Research & Development (R&D) expenses in the year ended September 25.

“R&D expense increased 34 per cent or USD 449 million to USD 1.8 billion in 2010 as compared to 2009. This increase was due primarily to an increase in headcount and related expenses in current year to support expanded R&D activities,” it noted.

Stressing that the company is facing aggressive competition, Apple said that focused investments in R&D is critical to its future growth.

>Another suicide at foxconn

November 8, 2010

>

  The company said A worker has committed suicide at Foxconn Technology Group’s south China manufacturing complex, the latest in a string of young migrant workers who have died at its factories this year.

A key manufacturer of iPhones and iPads for Apple and computer gadgets for other global brands like Hewlett Packard and Dell, the company said the 23-year-old male employee was found dead early on Friday outside a dormitory.

“The police are carrying out an investigation into this matter and Foxconn is cooperating fully with that process,” it said in a statement. “We have expressed our condolences to the family of the deceased employee.”

Labour rights groups say there have been at least 13 suicides at Foxconn’s factories across China this year, not including Friday’s death. China’s official Xinhua news agency had reported earlier that the employee had fallen to his death.

Many of those were young migrant workers, among the millions who leave China’s poor hinterlands for the booming factory towns of coastal areas in search of work and higher wages.

The deaths threw an awkward spotlight on Foxconn’s labor practices, which counts Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd and Foxconn International Holdings as its listed subsidiaries.

Since then, the company, which employs close to a million workers in China, has pledged to improve work conditions, increase pay, reduce overtime hours and build a string of giant new manufacturing complexes in inland provinces such as Henan to allow workers to live closer to home.

>Microsoft Kinect :Revolution in gaming

November 8, 2010

>

 
 
There are a lot of futuristic things we’re still waiting on: jet packs for the entire family, self-driving cars and time-travel, to name a few. But one new, pretty darn amazing bit of technology has finally come to fruition, thanks to the folks at Microsoft.

The Kinect system, on sale beginning Thursday for the Xbox 360 game console, offers controller-free control of living room entertainment and aptly delivers a groundbreaking piece of technology.

It’s part game controller, part fitness guru and part “Minority Report,” the movie where Tom Cruise famously interacts with a multi-touch interface by making rapid motions with his hands. Instead of gripping a physical controller to play games and movies on your Xbox 360, Kinect allows you to simply move your body — hands, feet, hips — to do everything.

Kinect is a hybrid video camera and motion sensor that sits just above or below your television display. It looks like an extra wide webcam and connects to the Xbox 360 — even older models — through the USB port. Kinect sells for $150 and comes with one game; you can buy it bundled with a low-end Xbox 360 for $300, saving $50 on the package.

Activating and configuring Kinect was easy enough, though it does require a system update.

Kinect calibrated itself by testing the ambient light in my room, the background noise and my own voice. Kinect then asked me to get used to performing my moves in a fairly large rectangular space about 8 feet in front of the television.

The 46-inch LCD display from Sceptre I used for my tests delivered the Kinect experience in tack-sharp high-definition. A larger-than-average display is ideal because it’ll help you see the various digital versions of yourself more clearly, as captured by Kinect’s camera and motion-sensing voodoo.

At the Xbox 360 main menu screen, a small dark box appeared at the lower right corner. Inside was a live view of my body, with my hands glowing at my sides. A quick wave of my right hand told Kinect I was ready to interact.

To select items on most menu screens, I simply held up my right hand at about shoulder height and guided an on-screen hand to an icon or word. In games, similar control takes place to select people and objects. Simply hover and grab.

Kinect also brings voice control to the Xbox 360, and you can launch movies and social media apps by saying something like “Xbox. Play.” I had spotty success with that and found the hand guide technique more dependable.

The game that comes with Kinect is “Kinect Adventures,” an outdoorsy jaunt into the world of whitewater rapids and antigravity. As I stood in front of my TV, I looked at my avatar’s back, careening down a rushing river in an inflatable raft. As I instinctively stepped and leaned to the left, my character on-screen did so as well, steering the raft around rocks and obstacles.

In “Space Pop,” I floated in a low-gravity room and waved my arms and legs to pop bubbles for points. These games were fine for a warm-up, but I was quickly ready for a more stern test.

The Kinect games now available all require the system to play them. Your physical Xbox 360 controller won’t suffice. There will be Kinect-enhanced games available later that can be played both ways, but Microsoft Corp. says Kinect will give you a better experience.

I met my match with “Dance Central” ($50, MTV Games, rated “T”). This top-shelf title is essential for Kinect users. I mimicked the on-screen character’s dance moves for high scores. I jumped and gyrated to songs from top artists such as Lady Gaga and Audio Push. I learned the moves individually, with a few restarts, then launched into a dance battle to string them together to the music.

A circle beneath my on-screen feet glowed green when I hit the moves correctly. It glowed red when I muffed the moves, indicating I had suddenly sprouted at least two left feet, if not more. The music on this title is fresh, and additional tracks can be purchased through the Xbox Live Marketplace.

One title that was a dud for me was “Kinect Joy Ride,” a cartoonish driving game. Driving is one of those game genres that begs for a physical controller. I had trouble keeping my hands in an imaginary grip on an imaginary steering wheel to control my imaginary car. I crashed because I overcorrected my steering. My hands moved too freely because they weren’t really holding on to anything.

My wife had better luck when I raced against her. She even found time to lean over and answer a real-world cell phone call while “driving,” gently cradling the phone on her shoulder while gripping her nonexistent steering wheel.

There is one title that literally left me breathless, but for all the right reasons. “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved” is a masterpiece. The exercise game talks and walks you through precise movements to improve your cardio and work out your muscles.

I began by standing in front of my TV and letting Kinect measure my body size and structure. I then used a hand-motion menu to enter my age, weight and exercise habits so the game would learn not to overexert me too soon.

Within minutes I was following along with the Tai chi and yoga moves of an on-screen instructor, with my on-screen mat placed just behind and to the right of her. She led me through the movements, and at the end of each routine I was given a score for my performance, based on how well I stayed in rhythm and mimicked her deep knee bends.

I would have never thought that the most impressive game title for Microsoft’s foray into motion-sensor gaming would involve me invoking the phrase “Namaste” instead of “activate plasma rifle.”

Motion-sensor gaming has now hit all three major gaming platforms. Nintendo Co.’s Wii arrived first. Sony Corp.’s Move for PlayStation 3 added more realistic games, graphics and highly acute player control.

Microsoft Kinect may lack the fine character control of the Move, but it adds the promise of an expanded breadth of activities in front of the gaming console. The possibilities for Kinect are rich, and I will forever more feel a touch guilty while sitting in that well-worn corner of my couch to play a video game.


>Indonesia saying no to Porn : Demands ISPs Block All Porn

September 12, 2010

>ISPs say it isn’t possible, though the government doesn’t care…

Techdirt directs our attention to the fact that the Indonesian government has ordered all ISPs in the country to block absolutely all porn on the Internet from Internet surfers. The government is threatening ISPs with closure if they don’t get this done in a month, but isn’t offering any real suggestions on how such a task should be accomplished, or even a list of pornography websites the government would like to see blocked. ISPs tell the New York Times the effort would be expensive, could impair Internet performance and block legitimate websites (in fact a more recent article suggests this has already happened), and likely would only result in only a fraction of porn being blocked anyway.

In Muslim-majority Indonesia, the decision to block illegal pornographic web sites during the holy month of Ramadan could have been expected. But Indonesian Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring hadn’t anticipated was how difficult it would be to shut down no less than 4m sites.

When the country’s 300 Internet service providers followed instructions from the ministry this week to block “vulgar” cyber content, dozens of perfectly respectable web sites, including leading news portals, went down too.

“Yesterday we unintentionally shut down 30 web sites with no relation whatsoever to pornography”, said Gatot Dewa Broto, the minister’s spokesman. “The speed of the operation was so huge, we hit the wrong ones”.
The move coincided with the start on Wednesday of Ramadan, when Indonesia’s 200m Muslims hold their annual month-long fasting. In addition to not eating, drinking, or smoking during daylight hours they are supposed to abstain from immoral behavior, such as viewing pornography.

Although illegal in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, strip clubs and brothels are found in major cities, sex videos are sold at black market DVD stalls at malls and pornographic web sites are among the most visited on the Internet, drawing millions of viewers.

Despite the technical setbacks and angry complaints from the unintentionally cut web sites, Mr Broto says the operation has successfully shut 80 per cent of targeted material. It will continue even after Ramadan ends in the second week of September.

Broto said the decision to act now was partly motivated by “the current hot issue of porno,” a reference to sex videos of television celebrities recently posted on the web. The graphic videos, featuring the poster girl for Lux soap and a famous pop star, consumed the nation’s attention for weeks. Asked if that was the “hot issue” he was referring to, Mr Broto just laughed