31
Aug 11

Android Moment – Mass Market Androids Phones for India

A week back when I wrote this post, I described what I though would be a real mass market Android phone in India.

What would it take for a successful mass selling Android phone in India –

Price should be sub-5K INR, a capacitive screen, a processor adequate to make the UI responsive without lag and at least 5 day standby without mobile data. All fancy features can be cut, as long as the phone is not crippled by a underpowered CPU and badly customised OS. Think like GPS, 3G , even wifi can be skipped to keep the cost down. At this time 3G services in India is a sham, too expensive and cant do much with the crippled metered plans.

via Android Moment | Luhit – Reviews, Analysis.

It was inevitable that someone would come out with such a device. This morning I came across this news in Times of India. On the face value these pair of sub-5K INR phones is what I thought is required for Android to go mass market.

Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd ( SSTL), which operates under the brand name MTS, has launched two Android-based smartphones priced below Rs 5,000.
via MTS launches sub-Rs 5K Android-based smartphones.

Will this be the beginning of things to come ?

I could not locate any information on these phones or the contract required on MTS website. Their website does show another Android MTS Pulse3 ( looked pretty much like a rebadged HTC device).

MTS MTAG 3.1 – Rebadged Huawei, Capacitive Screen with 240×320 resolution, runs on Froyo. Could not find much else on the web. Recently, Huawei got a lot of press on the stellar success of the USD 100 device called IDEOS in Kenya. It could be the same phone coming to India.

MTS Livewire – Rebadged ZTE. I am still to mind out anything informational  about this device. Will update the post when I got more information.

While this could be a beginning of Android going mainstream and mass in India, but I pretty much doubt these devices from MTS will make any significant difference ? People will continue to buy feature phones, unless one of the big big guns like Samsung or LG would come up with a affordable smartphones without carrier contracts.


27
Dec 10

Benchmarked WD Green 1TB 64MB vs Seagate 7200.12 1TB 32MB on Ubuntu Linux

Results of read-only comparison between between Western Digital WD10EARS-00Y5B1 and Seagate ST31000358AS hard disk drives (HDD).

Test System

Phenom II X6 1055, 8 GB DDR3 1600, 890 GX board SATA3 6 Gbps

Linux Mint (Ubuntu 10.10) – Kernel  2.6.35-23-generic #41-Ubuntu SMP Wed Nov 24 11:55:36 UTC 2010 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Gnome Disk Utility Read Benchmark

WD Green 1 TB WD10EARS-00Y5B1 Seagate 7200.12 1 TB ST31000358AS
Disk Capacity1 TB1 TB
Disk Cache64 MB32 MB
Rotation Speed less than 7200 rpm (variable)7200 rpm
Advanced FormatYesNo
Minimum Read48.7 MB/s67.6 MB/s
Maximum Read117.6 MB/s133.5 MB/s
Average Read86.9 MB/s107.8 MB/s
Average Access Time14.7 ms13.7
wd-green-1tb

Western Digital Green 1 TB

st-7200-12-1tb

Seagate ST7200-12 1 TB

hdparm Read Benchmark

Western Digital WD10EARS-00Y5B1 hdd
$ sudo hdparm -tT /dev/sda
/dev/sda:
Timing cached reads: 6714 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3358.17 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 326 MB in 3.01 seconds = 108.40 MB/sec

 

Seagate ST31000358AS hdd
$ sudo hdparm -tT /dev/sdb
/dev/sdb:
Timing cached reads: 6786 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3394.21 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 374 MB in 3.01 seconds = 124.25 MB/sec

Temperature

The Seagate ST31000358AS  hdd is cooler on my test set-up with temperature going up to +10 C above ambient, while the Western Digital Green WD10EARS-00Y5B1 hdd going up top +13 C over the ambient temperature.

Conclusion

The Seagate drive is significantly faster than the WD Green drive of the same capacity. The Seagate drive though is faster, but is  noisy –  when the spindle spins the noise can be annoying at time. WD Green is whisper  quiet and consumes less power. The WD Green hdd is slightly warmer in operation compared to the Seagate 7200.12.

My recommendation is the WD Green HDD WD10EARS-00Y5B1, the speed is adequate for a average desktop, low power and silent. If you are looking for performance use this WD Green WD10EARS-00Y5B1 with a SSD as a boot disk.


25
Dec 10

OlivePad VT-1000 – 7 inch Android 2.2 Tablet Hands-on Review

P1020052 (Modified)

OlivePad VT1000

OlivePad VT1000 is a seven inch Android 2.2 Tablet computer from India based Olive Telecom.

OlivePad has been selling for a  few months now, but it has not been able to create the interest Notion Ink has been able to generate  on its yet to be released Adam tablet.   I had been on a hunt for a decent Android Tablet for many weeks and never came across the OlivePad until one day saw one on eBay India.   This led me to Olive Telecom’s website where I found out that OlivePad is available on retail at Croma stores across India.  I picked up my OlivePad from the new Croma Store on the Outer Ring Road in Bangalore for INR 23999 (cheaper than the online prices at eBay.in).

This review is based on my hands on experience of using the OlivePad in the last three weeks.  My familiarity with Android devices which includes a Samsung Galaxy S phone running Android 2.2, a Samsung Galaxy 3 that my wife owns.  In between I also used a ten inch Chinese Apad ZT180 tablet running  Android 2.1.

Lets begin the review  with the Quick Specs of the Olive Pad VT1000.

OSAndroid 2.2 Froyo
Processor ARM11 600MHz
Chipset Qualcomm MSM7227
Battery Li Polymer 3240 mAh
Screen 7 inch 800x400 LCD with Capacitive Touch screen
Connectivity 802.11bg wifi, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, GPS, GSM, 3G
Memory 512 MB RAM
Storage 512 MB built in Flash, and my unit came bundled with a 16 GB micro-SD card
Camera Rear 3 mega pixel, front VGA
Audio microphone, stereo speakers, 3.5 mm stereo audio out
Others G-sensor, e-compass, ambient light sensor.

Hardware and Build

Design

The Olive Tab is rectangular with glass in front with a shiny black plastic in the rear. The sides are aluminum. The sides are not tapered like the Galaxy Tab which makes it look thicker. Nevertheless it’s comfortable to hold. The key here is the 7 inch form factor that is small enough to hold with hone hand. At 380 gm it’s not comfortable holding it for  long duration. However, its much comfortable using the OlivePad tablet  with the leather diary  styled jacket.

Processor Speed and Responsiveness

OlivePad comes with a 600 MHz ARM11 processor. The Tablet is  very responsive and I do not find any perceptible real world difference between the Galaxy S and the OlivePad in terms of responsiveness. However, ARM11 on paper appears slower compared to Cortex A8 chips being used in most recent Android Tablet, and not to mention the upcoming dual core Cortex A9 chips like the Nvidia Tegra2. Bottom line, the ARM11 chip in the OlivePd is adequate to give a very good user experience.

Storage and Memory

The SIM card and the SD card slots can be accessed from the side.OlivePad came bundles with a 16 GB microSD card. The internal flash is just 512 MB, which just leaves 173 MB for user applications. I wish OlivePad had at least  1 or 2 GH internal flash storage. With Froyo apps can be moved to the SD card, but still a lot of junk accumulates in the internal flash storage. The RAM is 512 MB is  adequate and at par with most of the high end Android tablets or phones.

Screen

The screen at best can be called average.   It looks nice  and vibrant when looking straight, but at the slightest angle the colours start getting weird. It indicates a cheap TN panel. I am not saying that it is not usable, but this no iPAD IPS panel or the Galaxy S Super AMOLED display.  Fonts look good and crisp providing a good web browsing experience and reading eBooks is a good experience. I would suggest giving the bundled Aldiko reader the skip and installing FBReader or Cool Reader from the market.

Audio

Two speakers have been places on the top and the bottom side of OlivePad. The speaks are excellent for the form factor.  These are clear and loader than the average tablet speaker and better than some Netbook speaker. a +1 to Olive Telecom fro this.  This is a great when playing games and  I can even dare to watch YouTube videos without a headphone.

Continue reading →


10
Feb 07

Inquisitor 3 : Neat Enhancement to Web Search in Apple’s Safari Web Browser

The built in web search in Apple Mac Safari 2 & 3 web browsers leaves much to be desired in comparison to Firefox 2.0 ( or the new Firefox 3 Betas). This is where a nice little addon called Inquisitor brings in the much needed parity for Apple’s Safari web browser. When compared to Firefox’s (v2.0) built in search Apple Safari 2.0 and the Safari 3.1 lacks 2 very important features :

  1. Safari does not allow search engine customization. Only Google search can be used.
  2. Safari cannot provide live search suggestions like Firefox 2.0/3.0

Get Inquisitor 3 from the developer’s site located here [external link]. The developer has made Inquisitor freely available. The developer’s web page has link to PayPal for donation.

Installing/Uninstalling Inquisitor 3

Installation is pretty straight forward. The downloaded dmg file contains a installation app. Just execute the app and restart Safari. Inquisitor 3 now also works on OSX 10.5 (Leopard).Inquisitor, does not install in the Application folder, so in case you want to uninstall Inquisitor, you can use the same Install app – which gives an option for uninstalling Inquisitor 3.

Getting Started with Inquisitor 3

Once Inquisitor is installed and Safari is restarted, just try a web search on the Apple Safari’s search box on the top right hand corner. I just typed “Gone With the Wind”. Pronto, a beautiful pop up appears below the Safari search box with 3 site suggestions and some keyword suggestions. Inquisitor can use both Google or Yahoo to provide search suggestions. Check out the screenshot below. The way the search suggestion are displayed give Safari one up on Firefox 2.0. This looks so beautiful, so very Apple like.

Inquisitor default provides only Google search. New search engines can be easily added from the Inquisitor preference pane located inside the Safari preference pane. I quickly added Yahoo, IMDb and Wikipedia search for the predefined filters already provide by Inquisitor. For each search engine, I was required to provide a keyboard shortcut. All these were done in less than a minute. Inquisitor also allows adding on custom search engine. In my case I added Ask.com by adding the search url- http://www.ask.com/web?q=%@ .

Inquisitor 3 provides some basic configuring options. It also allows previous search history to be used to refine suggestions. With Inquisitor switching the search engine is not easy as in Firefox. The way it works i that the user is required to assign a unique keyboard short cut for each search engine selected. After the user types the search term in the search box, the appropriate shortcut keys needs to be pressed. By default, pressing enter/return results in Google search being used. In the screenshots above, I have assigned Cmd+Y for Yahoo search, Cmd+W for Wikipedia. If someone uses many different search engines, it will be a pain to remember keyboard shortcuts assigned to each search engine.

A work around for it is that as soon as the search key work is typed, wait for the pop-up to appear below the web search box (see screenshot on the left). Here there will be a list of search engines configured, use the mouse to click on the search engine you want to use for this search.

Conclusion & Recommendation

Overall, Inquisitor 3 is an excellent and high quality addon for Apple Safari web browser. It enhances the user experience on Safari web browser in a very neat way. Users should at least give Inquisitor 3 a try.

The reader should also check out the review of Acid Search addon for Apple Safari browser. Like Inquisitor, Acid Search allows customization of search engine in Safari, but cannot do search suggestion.

Test Setup Used for this review:

  • Safari 2.0.4 (419.3) Mac OSX Version 10.4.8 (Tiger), iMac 20′ with Intel Core Duo (Early 2006)
  • Safari 3.1 (5525.13) Mac OSX Version10.5.2 (Leopard), iMac 20′ with Intel Core Duo (Early 2006)

28
Sep 06

Universal AC3 codec for QuickTime

Finally we have a working AC3 codec that works on the Intel Macs. Get it from A52Codec 1.7.2 – VersionTracker. This one really works 🙂

Usually you will find AC3 audio on those common DivX movies, DVDs etc. Until now ac3 audio would not play on the Intel Macs- both on Front Row or Quick Time. Sometime back, somewhere on the web, I came across another universal ac3 code for QT, but this one just kept crashing the QA player or Front Row.

With this new A52Codec v 1.7.2 universal binary available at Version Tracker, ac3 audio playes great on QT or Front row. The code appears pretty stable and the audio clear.

The download comes in a dmg format. After clicking on the DMG from the Finder, it’s almost drag and drop install.

  1. Drag & drop the A52Codec.component into /Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components
  2. Drag & drop the AC3MovieImport.compontent into /Library/QuickTime
  3. Drag & drop A52Preferences.app to your Applications folder.

Big thanks to the creators of of this codec.