Thursday, 30 May 2013

Though it's the Korean firm's flagship devices that tend to grab the headlines, Samsung also makes a fairly compelling line of mid-low end devices. The latest of these was revealed today in the form of the Galaxy S4 Mini. Like the S3 Mini before it, the mid-range handset presents a scaled-down version of its big brother, in both size and performance.
The handset shares its aesthetics with the full-size Galaxy S4, available in the same White Frost and Black Mist colors, while under the hood it packs an unspecified 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, 1.5 GB RAM and 8 GB of expandable internal storage. The handset runs on Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, complete with a suite of Samsung apps such as S Voice and S Translator.
The Mini is fitted with a 4.3-inch qHD Super AMOLED display with a 960 x 540 resolution. Though the display won't rival higher-end devices, it's a step up from the S3 Mini's WVGA 800 x 480 screen.
The cameras on the device are fairly impressive, coming in at 8 MP on the front and 1.9 MP on the back, which is a significant improvement over its predecessor’s 5 MP and VGA offerings. The S4 Mini weighs 107 g (0.24 lb) and measures 8.94 mm thick.
In terms of connectivity, the S4 Mini will ship in both LTE and 3G HSPA+ variants, presumably determined by location. The device comes with a/b/g/n WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as light, proximity, gyro and magnetic sensors and an accelerometer. There's also an IR remote feature that lets users control TVs, set-top boxes and DVD/Blu Ray players through the device.
The Galaxy S4 Mini is a reasonable bump-up from last year's S3 Mini, with more RAM, a faster chipset, better cameras, LTE connectivity and a slimmer frame. It's obvious that the S4 Mini isn't designed to compete with flagship devices like the full Galaxy S4 or HTC's compelling One handset, but its price point is certain to be much lower than those devices, making it a solid option, on the spec sheet at least.
There's no news yet on pricing or a release date for the device, though UK retailer Phones4U claims that it will be stocking the device in July. More information on the S4 Mini will be available following the company's Galaxy and Ativ event in London on June 20th.
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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Africa. It's not the place it used be. While poverty, human rights violations, civil war, AIDS/HIV, famine and drought still temper corporate enthusiasm about the continent's long-term potential, there's a buzz across the continent that is catching the world's attention – especially for mobile technology.
Regional and international investors, non-governmental organizations, mobile operators, device makers and infrastructure developers are all active across sub-Saharan Africa driven in large part by the region's young population that is connecting, interacting and conducting business digitally.
Executives at last month's Mobile World Congress (MWC), the mobile industry's main annual event, referred to Africa as mobile's last frontier, one of the world's last remaining high-population centers where last-mile mobile connections to rural, inland areas come with big promises, as well as costly challenges.
What's happening in Africa is a convergence of several factors, said Manoj Kohli, managing director and international chief executive officer of Bharti Airtel, an Indian-based telecommunications services company that has invested $13.5 billion in Africa to date. First, there's a large population of people under 30. Second, this segment of the popular is connected. Seven African nations are on Airtel's top 10 list of countries with the highest Facebook mobile penetration. Third, there is a "great trajectory" in the number of subscribers signing up for mobile services and the number of users going from voice-only connections to a mix of voice and data. 
"Few markets have all of these things happening at the same time," Kohli said, noting the positive potential of these market forces in the same breath as the continent's inherent challenges in expanding further.
Mobile operators, for instance, often have to generate their own electricity, have limited allocation for wider 3G network coverage and confront issues with securing right-of-way permission to lay fiber optic cables. Because of these and other challenges, mobile penetration is probably below 50 percent, according to some executives.
"Africa has tough infrastructure, and the existing infrastructure has to be maintained at very high cost," Kohli said. "How many operators in Africa are making money? I would say only a small number. Most are losing money. The time has come to turn Africa into a profitable and sustainable business environment."
Mobile First
To forge more sustainable and profitable business opportunities, companies need to understand more about Africa and how it's different than other emerging markets or developed countries, said Ian Fogg, director of mobile at IHS.
"Innovation is happening on every continent, and Africa is no exception," Fogg said. "It's not a laggard. It is different. And there are areas where it is ahead."
Case in point: Kenya is the poster child today for its mobile money initiatives, which are now being replicated not only in neighboring countries but in other regions as well, Fogg said.
Africa has a distinct advantage of being a "mobile first" continent, Fogg added. Unlike in mature markets where companies are only beginning to talk about designing products and services for the mobile environment first, Africa is jumping ahead to mobile.
"Mobile first is not an ideal in Africa. It's a fact of life because mobile is the main communications structure throughout most of the continent. The fixed communications infrastructure has very limited coverage," Fogg said.
Another interesting dynamic playing out across Africa is the arrival of smartphones, and where they are coming from, Fogg said. Blackberry, for instance, which is having trouble regaining its market position in the developed world, is a market leader in South Africa. And Chinese players, ZTE and Huawei, which have low penetration in the U.S. and European markets, are popular brands in Africa. Low-cost Android-based phones will gain traction, too, he said.
The price points for smartphones, though, are still out of reach from most Africans, government officials and mobile executives said during MWC panel sessions. Several called on device makers to bring the price of smartphones down to as low as $30 to $50; the “sweet spot” that would make them affordable.
"If Africa is indeed the last frontier for the telecommunications industry, then device makers and operators need to think about how to bring the prices down, said Omobola Johnson, Nigeria's minister of communication technology. "Who can afford a $400, $500, $600 smartphone? Not many of us."
In response, George Ferreira, vice president and chief operating officer at Samsung Electronics Africa, said Samsung made a decision in 2010 to look more closely at the products it was bringing to the African market. It brought its engineers to Africa and examined all areas of product development in order to better meet the needs of the local market. The Galaxy Pocket is the result of that effort, and, as is more frequently happening, has become a global product serving other markets.
"The Galaxy Pocket was initially built for Africa," Ferreira said. "But now it's been launched around the globe and serves consumers worldwide.

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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Historically the PC has been a huge driver for DRAM demand — but no longer. This year, the growth rate for DRAM usage in PCs will slow to its lowest point since peaking six years ago, down for the second consecutive year to 17.4 percent in 2012 and way down from the high of 56.1 percent in 2007.
So what are the long-term implications for DRAM supply and demand, assuming that the trend continues?
According to Mike Howard, senior principal analyst for DRAM and memory at IHS, the “doom-and-gloom factor” isn’t as dark as one might expect given that the mobile sector, led by smartphones and media tablets, is more than compensating for the lost PC usage, allowing demand to catch up to supply.
As a result, prices have climbed a bit these last three months, especially in the PC space where 4-gigabyte modules jumped from a low of $15 in November to $23 today. After some expected softening midyear, Howard is forecasting prices to rise even further during an undersupplied second half of the year. He points to three factors for the uptick in prices:
Industry consolidation from six to eight major players six years ago to essentially three suppliers: Samsung with 40 percent market share, SK Hynix with 25 percent and Micron Technology, which is expected to be in the 25-28 percent range after finalizing its purchase of Elpida Memory.
No one has built new DRAM fabs for several years now since the 2003-2005 overbuilding spurt.
The rate of organic DRAM growth on a wafer is slowing.
But if mobile demand continues to increase at the current rate, it’s very likely that, in the next 24 months, there could be a DRAM shortage because DRAM has dropped considerably on the priority lists of chip makers, Howard said.
At Samsung, for example, DRAM is now the third priority behind system Large-Scale Integration (LSI) and NAND, two areas where the company has new capacity coming online and for which DRAM fab production could be potentially converted in order to run more system LSI or NAND.
And at SK Hynix, there are current capacity expansions in NAND where the overall wafer demand is positive — but none in DRAM.
“These last six years have been so painful in DRAM at times, there’s a reluctance to forgo capital expenditures in those other two areas so as to benefit DRAM,” said Howard.
Micron Technology’s Brian Shirley, vice president of DRAM Solutions, concurred. “Moving forward, NAND will be taking on a much larger role here. We’re seeing an insatiable demand for NAND because of the rise of solid state storage in smartphones, tablets, notebook computers and servers.”
Meanwhile, despite smartphones and media tablets consuming less memory per unit than the average PC, Shirley observed that the number of mobile devices being sold makes the demand for mobile DRAM “pretty meaningful.”
“Couple that with the DRAM demand on the server side,” he added, “and what you see is that the overall DRAM market is balancing out a bit better than previously thought. We think that’s something that will last for a while.”
But whether the PC market’s demand for DRAM takes a turn upward or continues its long, slow decline depends on two factors, said Dale Ford, vice president of electronics supply chain research at IHS.
Primarily it depends on the public’s interest in the new PC platforms, especially in the ultrathin category with the Ultrabook and the MacBook Air, although the mobile PC market uses relatively less DRAM than does the desktop PC.
Also, it depends on the challenge that PC makers face in convincing IT managers they need to upgrade their platforms, Ford added.
“There’s a large installed base of PCs out there that are four years and older and are working just fine,” he said. “The players in the PC supply chain – from Intel to the PC OEMs – need to show IT managers they are missing out on some important benefits by not transitioning to a new platform. It’s not enough to say that processor runs X percent faster or that you can boot up faster. They have to demonstrate valuable new capabilities. That isn’t easy and, frankly, I haven’t seen much evidence of them being able to do that recently.”
Unless that happens, Ford predicts that desktop PCs, mobile PCs, servers and upgrade modules for PCs will account for just under 40 percent of DRAM revenue in 2014, down from 53 percent this year. On a revenue basis, DRAMs utilized by the PC space will drop to $11.5 billion from $13.9 billion in those same years.
“Of course, if the PC markets get notably weaker, things will become even more problematic,” Ford said. “You’ll have a supply-demand imbalance that will bring economic forces into play with softer pricing placing pressure on the profitability of the product.” As a result, manufacturers will need to ramp down production to keep inventories in line.
At the same time, he said, handsets and tablets will grow by 8 percent to $2.2 billion this year and by 28 percent to $8 billion in 2014.
Ford’s best advice to OEMs is to take advantage of the opportunity for managing the profitability of the platform. In the past, he said, softer pricing has prompted OEMs to install more memory to keep prices up. But, in this case, “since there doesn’t appear to be any application screaming for more memory,” OEMs that are out to try and take advantage of the softer pricing environment could negotiate to save on memory costs.
Meanwhile, Howard has this advice for DRAM procurement professionals: build the best relationships you can with your sources, and negotiate prices for the long term.
“You used to be able to play one supplier against the other,” he said, “but now we’re down to just three major players. DRAM used to be a really dirty business, especially in PCs, because it didn’t matter where you got the product. It was easy to switch out suppliers at the last second. But things can get tight now and prices can creep up. You need to treat those vendors the way you’d like to be treated yourself.”
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On just about any given day, you can pick up an Indian newspaper and read about a new solar project being commissioned in the country or a new policy announcement by the government. This steady stream of press coverage is the direct result of the government’s ambitious 2010 National Solar Mission that aims to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, including photovoltaics (PV), within the decade.
A recent IHS report on solar PV developments in emerging markets took a close look at developments in over a dozen countries and concluded that India was at the top of the list of emerging nations in terms of market potential. The report attributed India’s strong showing in large part to the National Solar Mission program, which it estimates has resulted in the installation of over 1 gigawatt (GW) of cumulative PV capacity as of the end of 2012, the lion’s share consisting of large commercial and utility-scale plants.
Other high-growth emerging markets to watch include Brazil, South Africa and Turkey, according to the IHS report.
Of course, it’s still the early days in India’s evolution as a viable global competitor. The country’s PV industry is young and there are financial and business hurdles to clear for it to meet the government’s target of installing 20 GW of solar power by 2022, or of reaching the interim target of 10 GW by 2017.
Then there are systemic issues such as the Indian government’s notoriously cumbersome bureaucracy that could limit the pace of development. Indeed, some observers argue the government’s efforts to date leave a lot to be desired.
“The solar initiative in India has not really boomed but neither has it busted,” said Ashok Das, CEO of Sun Moksha, a boutique clean technologies solutions company. “The National Solar Mission has just been marginally successful and has not gained the momentum that it should have,” he said.
Still, a number of major engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies are betting on the Indian government’s plan and have either entered the market or are drawing up plans to do so in the near future. These include Indian companies such as Mahindra Group, Larsen & Toubro, GMR Group, Sterling & Wilson and Welspun Energy. Also, foreign firms such as the Juwi Group and Conergy Solar Energy Systems and Services from Germany plus Portugal’s Martifer Solar are entering the fray.
Some foreign companies have taken the joint-venture route. These include a few notable 2011 partnerships such as Enfinity, a Belgium-based renewable energy developer, that formed a JV with Titan Energy Systems, an Indian manufacturer of photovoltaic modules; Swiss-based meeco AG that partnered with both PV Energy Private Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of PV Energy Limited, UK and Soma Enterprise Ltd; and Electrotherm India, which signed an agreement with Immodo Solar S.A. of Spain to produce a complete EPC solar project.
Other recent JVs include India’s Harsha Solar that has partnered with German-based Abakus Solar A.G., India’s Greenforce Enviro with German-based Gehrlicher Solar AG; India’s XL Telecom with Spain’s SDEM TEGA and U.S.-based SunEdison with India’s Azure Power. Kolkata, India-based Vikram Solar, a crystalline photovoltaic module manufacturing company, has entered into a 51:49 joint venture with Proener Renovables of Spain to supply plant and machinery for solar power projects. 
Reinforcing this activity is the IHS report’s accelerated growth scenario which forecasts that six emerging PV markets, including Australia, India, South Korea, Israel, Ukraine and Bulgaria, will add 367 GW to the grid from 2012 to 2035 at an average rate of 15 GW per year. “Of this, India represents the bulk of growth, enabled by rapid cost declines of systems, improved incentive schemes, and accelerated tender procedures,” said Ash Sharma, director of syndicated research for solar research at IHS.
Pick up the pace
Although the signs point to a burgeoning opportunity in India, some industry experts believe that much faster momentum could be gained if the government was more aggressive and pro-active.
“Prices of solar modules as well as that of solar power generation have fallen drastically, but the government is delaying the bidding for new projects,” said one leading solar systems integrator who requested anonymity. “In the last two years, only 1,000 megawatts have been achieved. We are disappointed with the way the government is working. We are losing out in the long term because of the delay in tender announcements,” he said.
T.J. Joseph, CEO of Anu Solar, a renewable energy company based in Bangalore, echoes this sentiment. “If you ask me policy-wise, ‘is enough being done?’ the answer is ‘yes.’ But when it comes to administration and execution of these projects, then the answer is ‘no.’ The pace is too slow.”
Joseph believes the industry should not always rely on the government. It should be more independent and pro-active. One opportunity he points to is solar systems for single-family homes. “We are bullish on solar and are strongly pitching for generating solar power at individual house level,” he said. “They should be encouraged to generate their own power.”
Earlier, Anu Solar was manufacturing and selling solar water heaters, but has recently begun manufacturing power generation equipment. The company is able to convince customers that if they shell out $2,500, they can generate 1 KW at home. The company has partnered with a finance company to enable financing options for buyers.
Flight of venture funding
Another factor affecting the pace of development is the lack of money. Venture capital investments touched a five year low last year in the global solar sector with a dramatic drop of nearly 50 percent to around $992 million in 103 deals. It was the lowest level since 2007, according to clean energy communications and consulting firm Mercom Capital Group. This was in stark contrast to the $1.9 billion raised from 108 deals in 2011. 
“The same thing is happening in India too,” said Venkat Rajaraman, CEO, Solarsis, a leading EPC and solar systems integrator based in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. “VCs are not too keen to invest in solar projects because they are seen as glorified fixed deposit schemes. You know beforehand what the feed-in-tariff will be so the revenue coming in and the return on investment is pretty much fixed. Hence it doesn’t attract significant investment. Nevertheless, there are bigger players coming in for the current level of returns.”
On a positive note, India’s recently announced Open Access system, which allows any large power consumer to buy power from private suppliers, seems to be taking off. Open Access is seen as an alternative business model to chasing FiT revenue or relying on projects through the government’s National Solar Mission.
“This is certainly helping companies that generate solar power and wish to sell it,” said Narender Surana, Managing Director, Surana Ventures, “We are now able to sell the power we generate to companies that consume a large amount of power and it certainly is working out well.”

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

If you’ve been holding your breath waiting for the long-rumored Windows 8 “Blue” update, you might be able to exhale soon. Microsoft still hasn’t officially broken down the new features in the update, but it does now have a name and a price: "Windows 8.1," and "free."
This update has been a hot topic of the rumor mill as customers rail against some of the changes Microsoft tried to force with Windows 8. A Windows Phone-esque Start Screen is great for a tablet or hybrid touch PC. But on a traditional desktop or laptop PC, operated with a mouse and keyboard? You know, the kind that still dominates Microsoft’s userbase? Not so much.
That’s why previous rumors have pointed to the update scaling back on the push towards touch. If you believe those whispers, then we’re looking at a Windows 8.1 that will give you back a start menu of some sort, and will let you boot straight into the desktop. In other words, a breath of fresh air for long-time Windows users.
An apology ... and a blame?
So today we have Microsoft’s Tami Reller telling us about the update that extends Microsoft’s vision, but also “addresses customer feedback.” Primo Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott might have phrased it best, when he half-jokingly branded Blue as “an apology.”
In the same breath, though, Microsoft is still pushing for PC makers to make more devices with touchscreens. Do you get the sense that Redmond isn't completely owning up to the ho-hum reception to Windows 8?
Maybe it's a chicken-or-egg scenario, but – apart from the Surface Pro – customers haven't shown much interest in Windows-based tablets, touch laptops, and convertibles. If customers aren't asking for something, I'm not sure if making more of them is going to change that.
More details
The update – which will be for both Windows 8 and RT – is also expected to open the door to smaller tablets. Will Windows-running Nexus 7 and iPad mini competitors be enough to lift Microsoft's mobile fortunes? This should be interesting.
Reller didn’t narrow down a release window for Blue, but a public preview will be dropping on June 26. And the free part, of course, only applies to owners of Windows 8. We’ll be hearing more from Microsoft on 8.1 in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are great when you're sitting on the couch or running around the city, but they aren't as great in the wilderness where cellular service disappears and bright sunlight renders LCD screens near-illegible. The Earl is a tablet designed to skirt around those shortcomings and keep you connected in the deepest of backcountry terrain. The "backcountry survival tablet" navigates you across the land, keeps you in communication with your crew and lets you know what weather lies ahead.
The Earl is an Android 4.1-based tablet that uses a 6-inch LG e-ink display. While the black-and-white display won't be so great for watching videos or picking out paint colors for your next car, it is designed to provide superior visibility in the outdoors. With its "lunar mode," the Earl maintains visibility at night and works as a lantern.
The e-ink display also uses energy frugally, allowing for up to 20 hours of battery life. The designers thought of the weekend backpacker with that battery life, but the built-in solar panel on the backside can keep it running on longer trips.
The Earl is much more than just a black-and-white tablet designed to be used outdoors. It uses a 50-channel GPS/GLONASS/WAAS chipset that tracks up to 20 satellites at once and delivers accuracy of up to about 10 feet (3 meters). It comes pre-loaded with topographic base maps, and its creators advertise as a means for accessing mapping information for more than 300,000 trails. Using its internal magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope, the Earl can keep track of your position and route even in dense jungle and urban environments that lack a clear line of sight to the satellites above.
In addition to keeping you on track, the Earl is designed to keep you in communication with others in your group. Since cell phones can turn into useless backpack weights out in the wilderness, the Earl incorporates an FRS/GPRS/MUR two-way radio that lets you communicate with other radios up to 20 miles (32 km) away. The tablet can send text and voice messages and information like weather, location and route. Its designers advertise that it can be used to call for help in an emergency, but that will really depend on where you are and who else is around. Because it lacks satellite communications capabilities, it shouldn't be relied upon as an emergency rescue beacon.
To keep you tuned into the world beyond your two-way range, the Earl includes an AM/FM radio along with shortwave and longwave band radios. The latter gives you access to NOAA weather information and alerts. The tablet includes a built-in speaker for playing audio.
Outdoor-device standards like the NOAA weather radio, barometer and thermometer are joined by an anemometer and hygrometer. The Earl is able to provide current temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and wind speed and direction. It can also give you the location of where the sun, moon and stars will be the brightest.
As an Android tablet, the Earl works with all kinds of available apps, and app designers will be able to build apps specifically for Earl and its unique sensor set. The tablet includes ANT+, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing it to connect to the internet and work with wireless devices such as heart rate monitors.
Since it was created to be used outside, the Earl is a bit more rugged and grizzled than the average tablet. It uses a waterproof case that can hold its breath in 3 feet (900 cm) of water for 30 minutes. It is also dust-, shock- and mud-proof and works in temperatures between 0 and 50ºC (32 to 122ºF) and altitudes as high as land rises (40,000 feet/12,192 m – more than 10,000 feet/3,000 m higher than Everest). It recharges via USB or the aforementioned integrated solar panel.
Does the market really need a tablet built specifically for backcountry use? We're not really sure, but it gets its chance to decide: the Earl is hosting its own Kickstarter-style crowd-sourcing campaign. Early birds can pre-order the tablet with 100K topographic base maps for US$249. Add $50 for 24K resolution maps on microSD. Retail price will be around $360 for the base model.
The Earl can be used all over the world, but features such as the base maps and radio frequencies are designed for North America. Plans call for the launch of European and Australian versions toward the end of the year.
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Friday, 10 May 2013

During the past year, the phablet has gone from object of ridicule to legit new product category. You can give all the credit to Samsung, and its surprisingly successful marketing of the Galaxy Note. Like any successful product, the Note has rivals – eager to take a piece of its pie. Let’s see how the most significant non-Samsung phablet, the LG Optimus G Pro, compares to the Galaxy Note 2.
Height is about the same, and thickness is identical. The biggest difference is the Optimus G Pro’s width. It’s about six percent narrower than the Galaxy Note II. This could make the Optimus a bit easier to grip with one paw.
If you’re buying a phablet, you probably aren’t expecting a light phone. But if you want to minimize the heft, the Optimus G Pro is 6 g (0.21 oz) lighter than the Note 2.
Also note that this weight is for the U.S. (AT&T) version of the Optimus G Pro. The global version weighs 172 g (6.6 oz).
The original Optimus G was made of glass. But for this phablet sequel, LG went with a plastic build. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the Note 2.
Big win for the Optimus G Pro here. The newer phablet has a next-gen 1080p display. The Note 2 is stuck in 2012’s high end, with a 720p screen. It’s not that the Note’s screen is bad (it’s actually quite solid, even today), but we’ve been extremely impressed with the recent 1080p phones we’ve reviewed.
It's hard to complain about the Note II's performance, but the Optimus G Pro does have an extra gear or two. Its Snapdragon 600 chip is one of the fastest mobile processors you can get in 2013.
Like most recent high-end phones, these two each pack 2 GB of RAM.
Samsung offers more storage options, but the Optimus’ lone 32 GB model should be plenty for most of us. When you factor in its microSD slot (up to 64 GB), there’s little to worry about here.
No surprise here. Both phones max out at LTE speeds (where available).
The Note 2 gets great uptime from its 3,100 mAh battery. The Optimus G Pro has a bit higher capacity, but it’s also powering a much denser display.

When all is said and done, though, both phablets should easily last a full day with typical use.
One of the drawbacks of phablets is that they make for pretty cumbersome cameras. But that didn’t stop LG and Samsung from pumping some nice components and features into their shooters.
The Optimus G Pro’s camera has higher resolution. We haven’t yet put its camera through the paces, but we were happy with the shots from the Note 2. Unless you’re a professional photographer, both phablets should suit your needs.
One nice camera feature in the Optimus G Pro is Time Machine. Basically it shoots a few frames before and after you hit the shutter to help you to find that perfect shot.
Both phones run an older version of Android (4.1.2), with their respective manufacturer skins pasted on top.
On the Note 2, we’re looking at the TouchWiz UI, which should be familiar to anyone who’s used any recent Galaxy phone. LG’s Optimus UI is pretty smooth in its own right, and has a similar look and feel to TouchWiz.
You can’t look at the Galaxy Note II without mentioning its stylus. Unless you leave it docked in the Note’s behind, it will inform everything you do with the phablet. Samsung added some cool software features that take advantage of the S Pen (like scratching memos anywhere, or scrolling by hovering the stylus over the screen).
Likewise, you can’t talk about the Optimus G Pro without mentioning that it doesn’t have a stylus. The S Pen played a big part in our positive impressionof the Note. It helps to cancel out the obvious drawbacks of carrying around such a gigantic device. Stylus-free phablets like the Optimus are basically huge phones, without any extra perks other than a big screen.
Well, the Optimus Pro does have one nice extra perk: an IR (infrared) blaster. Several recent phones – like the Galaxy S4 and HTC One – also pack IR blasters, but the Note 2 missed that bandwagon. The bottom line: you can change channels on your TV with the Optimus G Pro. If you’re into that sort of thing.
If the Optimus G Pro had a stylus, it would probably be the clear winner here. But since it doesn’t, this is a tougher call. LG’s phablet has more updated specs (particularly that dazzling 1080p display), but it’s a different experience using a fingers-only phablet.
If you want 2013 specs and a stylus, then you might want to hold out for the Galaxy Note 3. It’s still unannounced, but we wouldn’t be surprised to hear something from Samsung on that front around August or September.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Key Features of Micromax Funbook Talk P362 Tablet (Wi-Fi, 1.65 GB)
2 MP Primary Camera
Android v4.1 (Jelly Bean) OS
7-inch TFT Capacitive Touchscreen
1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 Processor
0.3 MP Secondary Camera
Wi-Fi Enabled
Expandable Storage Capacity of 32 GB
Specifications of Micromax Funbook Talk P362 Tablet (Wi-Fi, 1.65 GB)
Processor 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9
Graphics Dual Mali
Voice Call Yes
Supported Networks 2G: GSM 900, 1800
In The Box Tablet, USB Cable, Battery, Charger, User Guide, Warranty Card
Operating System Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
Sensors Accelerometer
Internal Storage 1.65 GB
Expandable Storage Capacity 32 GB
Memory Card Slot type microSD
Display Type 7 inch TFT Capacitive Touchscreen with 480 x 800 pixels ,16 M Colors
Other Display Features 5 Point Multi-touchscreen
Primary Camera 2 megapixels
Secondary Camera 0.3 megapixels
Video Recording Yes at 640 x 480
Other Camera Features Zoom Level - 4x
Mail Features Email
Document Support Document Viewer, Document Editor
Other Business features Adobe Reader
Battery Type 3000 mAh
Standby Time 180 hrs
Internet Browsing Time 3 hrs
Wi-Fi Yes
Other Internet Connectivity Options Gprs
Pre-Installed Browser Android
Video Playback Yes , Full HD Playback
Video Formats Supported MP4, WMV, 3GP, AVI, FLV, MKV, MPEG
Audio Formats Supported WAV, MP3, AAC, WMA
Map Support Google Maps
USB Yes, Micro USB
Audio Jack 3.5 mm Headphone Jack
Bluetooth v2.1
Multi-tasking, Games, Intuitive Text Input, Google Play Store, Live TV, Preloaded Apps, YouTube, Mi Store, Mi Zone+, Edutainment, Video Chat
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Players of the Forza and Gran Turismo race series understand that every little advantage counts when working to trim lap times. In game, details like tires, camber angles, damper settings, plus engine mods are just a few of the tuning tricks to enhance a racer's performance. But deep down, budding racers know that such sops to realism are nothing compared to a full-scale F1 simulator. Luckily for them Cosco UK and FMCG International have a solution – a US$116,650 full-scale F1 simulator.
Available in your color of choice as long as its red, black or silver, the F1 simulator will not only make your basement the coolest on the block, but is also designed to ensure an inflated ego and quicker laps. Delivery from Cosco UK takes between 12 and 18 weeks, because like Shumacher’s F1 vehicle, simulators are made to order.
The in-home model carries over certain traits from the circuit. The floor plan for instance is of a composite nature, finished with carbon fiber detailing, while the main tub area where racers reside is comprised of a woven composite. Side pods, which provide no fuel delivery or aerodynamic advantage in your basement, are also finished with carbon fiber composite details.
That rear deck out back that’s hiding the non-existent formula one engine is again composite but incorporates integral aerodynamic components, an important factor when extra down-force is needed as a result of your mom leaving a window open.
The all important nose cone, supporting the front spoiler and channeling air through to the brakes and the car’s underbelly diffuser is intricately replicated and detailed. Rear spoiler/wing and end plates are again composite with just a hint of carbon fiber.
But inside the cockpit is where would-be racers will be spending extensive amounts of time and effort in trying to achieve shorter lap times. The composite headrest is removable, just like in the big boys, to make ingress and egress easier, as is the quick release steering wheel, modeled very closely after an actual F1 steering wheel.
To provide realistic steering feedback, a high use force feedback unit with industrial rollers and motors is built into the frame work. Pedals, again just like an F1, are electronically adjustable for the inevitable array of friends and neighbors looking to take the car for a spin. Managing fake power to the fake wheels is handled by alloy drive shafts and a gear box machined from a single alloy block
What about stopping performance? Let’s say Bill leans on the car and it starts careening out of control towards the flat screen? FCMG thought of this. Carbon brake disks machined from high grade metal and a choice of AP Racing or Brembo brake calipers are in place to ensure braking performance is not compromised on the hardwood. The tires that look like racing slicks are actually Pirelli F1 show tires on magnesium alloy rims. No speed rating was provided but it's safe to assume they are MC-rated for optimal basement performance.

Visualizing the race is handled by three 23-inch TFT Screens with 8 ms response times mounted on an adjustable frame forward of the cockpit. The racing sim experience is driven by a tricked out PC with Intel Core i7 processor, Intel SSD hard drive, triple head graphics card, 16 GB RAM, 1200 W power supply, and a wireless keyboard with integrated mouse. But with a little tinkering we'd imagine one could configure and integrate an Xbox or PS3 rather easily into the F1’s system.
A 5.1 digital sound system further enhances the experience with screen towers housing the main front speakers. A sub-woofer positioned replaces the engine behind the driver to provide the bass, while other speakers located inside the car help round out the aural experience.
While the FCMG simulator is not on the same level of sophistication asFerrari’s trainer it does offer aspirational Lewis Hamilton types a chance to race a full-scale F1 about their living room without the risk of oil stains messing up the carpet.
Although the F1 is available online, buyers need to contact Cosco directly for their F1 simulator purchase in order to properly part with their £74,999.91 (excluding VAT) (approx. US$116,650).
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