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The Gadgets Blog for Cool Gadgets



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Last-minute holiday shopping bringing you down? The good news is that there’s plenty of gadgets out there to suit every personality type, from the health nut to the foodie and the outdoor enthusiast. If you want something new, something cool, and something techie, then look no further.

1. Health nut

Tempo

Price: $70

This simple home-monitoring device connects to your iPhone or iPad over the short-range Apple iBeacon signal that uses Bluetooth 4.0. You use it to monitor temperature, barometric pressure, and humidity in an immediate area. It?s a smart gift idea for anyone who is interested in better health, because variables like high or low humidity in the home can contribute to poor health (especially the flu). You can see historical data for up to 30 days.

2. Fitness guru

SMS Audio BioSport

Price: $150

Heart rate monitors are great for the first few weeks of using them. Then, you might get tired of having to fasten it around your chest or keep it synced with a phone. Intel, working with SMS Audio, figured out how to embed a heart rate monitor into this earbud set. You wear it normally, sync with an app like RunKeeper, and off you go. It?s one less gadget to (ahem) monitor.

3. Movie maven

VIZIO 50-inch P-Series Ultra HD Full-Array LED Smart TV

Price: $999

2015 will be the year when 4K finally becomes widely available. There are rumors the Super Bowl will use this high-resolution format that shows 4,000 pixels on the screen. And Amazon recently announced a slew of shows are available in 4K. It?s just a matter of time before Dish Network and DirecTV jump on the bandwagon. At $999, this high-end model from Vizio is a good future-proof investment. Apps like Netflix and Hulu are built-in as well.

4. Audiophile

Polk Hampden Computer Speakers

Price: $399

Most of us don?t hear the subtle differences between one set of speakers and another. With this trendy-looking brown and tan Polk Audio Hampden set, audiophiles will notice the superior quality right away. There?s more bass and more distinct playback when you listen to bands like Radiohead or Alt-J. A bonus is that you can play music from a laptop using a 3.5mm cable or connect over Bluetooth from your smartphone or tablet.

5. Outdoor enthusiast

Kodak Pixpro SP360

Price: $399

The wide-angle lens on the GoPro action camera is cool, but Kodak has gone even further. The 360-degree lens can shoot 1080p video in a dome view, panorama, front-and-back 180-degree views, or just about anything you can think of to add a wider perspective. The camera also shoots 16-megapixel photos at regular intervals and comes with several mounts. A bonus is that the camera syncs to a smartphone using Wi-Fi and NFC (or near-field communication, a way to create a secure link) so you can control the camera remotely.

6. Office dweller

HP Pavilion X2

Price: $330

HP is on a roll with several new Windows 8 laptops and tablets, but this is the best one of the bunch. First, the Pavilion X2, at just $330, is priced well below the expensive Microsoft Surface Pro 3, at $800. Yet both tablets work fine as laptop replacements and run normal desktop apps like Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop. The X2 also comes with a keyboard that folds over the tablet for protection, lasts about 11 hours, and has a bright and sharp 10-inch screen.

7. Foodie

Keurig 2.0

Price: $150

This high-tech coffeemaker, redesigned this year, makes coffee with the push of a button. The good news: the larger K-Carafe flavor packs can now brew four cups in an included carafe. There?s a larger 80-ounce water reservoir, a new color touchscreen display, and even a night light. The best reason to use the Keurig these days, other than the immediate brewing, is the wide selection of flavors like Mocha Nut Fudge and rich Green Mountain Kona blend.

8. Gamer

Sony PlayStation TV

Price: $99

Sony has made whole-house video gaming a little less expensive. Instead of buying an extra console for the family room, this low-cost device, about the size of one card deck, connects to an HDTV and lets you play classic and casual games like Limbo or PlayStation Vita games like Murasaki Baby. You can also stream any game you own from your PlayStation 3 or 4. (For that, make sure you use a wired Ethernet connection through a route; it?s a bit slow on Wi-Fi).


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Some of the high profile launches since our last roundup included the three Android One phones and the fingerprint sensor equipped Xolo Q2100, not to mention the Jolla Smartphone running the Sailfish OS and the entry-level Firefox OS phone, the Intex Cloud FX. If you’re looking to buy a phone right now, then here are our top picks for smartphones under Rs. 15,000:

Best overall: Motorola Moto G (Gen 2)
The Moto G was one of the handsets responsible for creating the current interest in the under-Rs. 15,000 market, and the second generation of the device remains an excellent buy. The new Moto G (Review | Pictures) is a bit boring to look at, but does well in terms of its display, software, performance, battery life and camera, making it a really good pick.

Best value for money: Asus ZenFone 5 (8GB)
Available at under Rs. 10,000, the 
Asus ZenFone 5 (Review | Pictures) 8GB model remains our value-for-money pick, since you get a phone with a great camera, decent performance and looks, at a price where the competing phones come with serious compromises.

Best camera: Panasonic P81
The 
Panasonic P81 (Review | Pictures) launched at a fairly high price of Rs. 19,990, and at that price it wasn’t a great option at all. However, the phone has just received a huge price cut and although that doesn’t help with the boring design and average display, it certainly makes the P81 a reasonable buy today. We liked the camera on this phone even at its original price, and at approximately Rs. 11,000, it is probably the best option around with great low-light performance. In case you don’t want to go with a phablet that has a 5.5-inch screen, you could instead pick up the Moto G. That phone has a pretty good camera too, but the P81 wins in terms of low-light performance.

Best battery life: Micromax Canvas Nitro
Launched in September for Rs. 12,900, the 
Micromax Canvas Nitro (Review | Pictures) did not thrill us - its scores in design and software were middling, and the camera is downright bad. The phone comes loaded with bloatware, and the performance is only middling. But the battery life on the phone is unmatched in the category, and if you’re someone who’s always on the move and needs a big battery that won’t let you down, then there’s no better option than the Canvas Nitro.

Best phablet: Panasonic P81
While there are other phablets in this category, the price cut of the Panasonic P81 makes it a worthy option. You won’t get the best looking phone for your money, and the Android skin from Panasonic is crude, but the phone has good performance, a great camera, and delivers incredible value for the money it costs.


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The OnePlus One has been launched in India, priced at Rs. 21,999 for the 64GB version (Sandstone Black). Notably, no 16GB (Silk White) version will be made available in India. The smartphone is available via invites from Tuesday, exclusively on Amazon.in.

The OnePlus One smartphone will be available for purchase only for users with invites, and India-specific invites for the Tuesday launch have already been through distributed through OnePlus and Amazon. A 10-day return policy on Amazon was also announced.

The company says the OnePlus and Amazon platforms have been integrated so that invites claimed by a OnePlus account can be used to purchase the ‘2014 Flagship Killer’ on the Amazon OnePlus One page. Users can log onto oneplus.net/in to register their interest for a OnePlus One invite. (Read:How to Get a OnePlus One India-Specific Invite).

OnePlus said the India launch is the “next chapter” for the company, with an “entirely new team and model.” The firm says the move will herald several firsts for the company, with the local chapter the first outside the company’s headquarters to have a physical presence.

The firm added India will be the first region since the OnePlus One’s launch in April in 17 countries where a localised service infrastructure will be in place, offering both walk-in and phone support to users. OnePlus reiterated the team in the country will be led by Vikas Agarwal, General Manager of OnePlus India.

The company said the exclusive online retail partnership with Amazon also extends to the accessories of the OnePlus One, which thus far include the Flip Cover, Bamboo StyleSwap Cover, and Silver Bullet Earphones. Other accessories announced as ‘coming soon’ include the Screen Protector, Protective Case, Clear Case, and JBL E1+ Earphones.

Amit Agarwal, Vice President and Country Manager, Amazon India, added, “We are very excited to bring this much awaited phone for our customers in India. And we are having real fun with the unique marketing initiatives for the launch. It fits right into our philosophy of bringing wide and unique selections and experiences for our customers.”


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Xiaomi on Monday?launched the Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G phablets?in India. The?Xiaomi Redmi Note?is priced at Rs. 8,999 and will be sold through the company’s online retail partner Flipkart in India. Flash sale registrations will start from November 25 at 6pm IST, and the first sale will happen on December 2, similar to way the Xiaomi Mi 3 and Redmi 1S have been sold so far.

On the other hand, the?Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G?will be sold by?Filpkart?as well as at 100Airtel?exclusive stores in six cities - Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai - but its launch is slated for the second half of December. Even though it will be available at physical stores, consumers will need to register on Airtel’s website in advance and only those who win invitations from the company will be able to pick one up in person.

Xiaomi?says that the 4G variant is specifically made for India, and it supports FDD LTE band 3 and TDD LTE band 40.

Both the Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G look the same, and there is no difference whatsoever from the outside. Upfront, both smartphones feature 5.5-inch HD (720×1280-pixel) IPS LCD displays with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. Notably, Xiaomi offers the Redmi Note in some regions without protective glass.

The screens appear vibrant and offer good sunlight legibility at full brightness. The rear panels have a glossy finish, which makes them prone to fingerprints. The devices feel very slippery, though their rounded edges still let you get a good grip, and they sit well in your palm.

The two phablet smartphones - Redmi Note and Redmi Note 4G - performed well in our limited time with the device. We didn’t encounter any lags or crashes during that time. Overall the smartphones appeared very well optimised with 2GB of RAM on both, though the Redmi Note packs a 1.7 GHz octa-core?MediaTek?processor, while the Redmi Note 4G runs on a quad-core 1.6GHz?Qualcomm?Snapdragon 400 CPU.

Spice Mi-549 With iPhone 6 Plus


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Following the launch of the Lenovo Sisley S90 mid-range iPhone 6-lookalike, it appears Spice is also set to unveil an Apple-inspired design that looks a lot like theiPhone 6 Plus. Priced at Rs. 7,999, the smartphone is listed on an e-commerce but is not yet available for purchase. Spice is yet to official announce the smartphone.
The yet-to-be-launched Spice Mi-549 smartphone features dual-SIM support and runs Android 4.4 KitKat out-of-the-box. Sporting a 5.5-inch full HD (1080×1920 pixels) display, it is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core processor (unknown chipset) that’s coupled with 1GB of RAM.
The Spice Mi-549, according to the listing, sports an 8-megapixel rear camera with flash and a front 2-megapixel camera. The 8GB internal storage on the Mi-549 can be expanded via microSD card (up to 32GB).
Connectivity options on the Spice Mi-549 include 3G, GPRS/ EDGE, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and Micro-USB. It measures 149.4×74.9×9.3mm and weighs 175 grams. The battery on the Mi-549 is listed on HomeShop18 as 2200mAh.
Last month, Spice had launched the Stellar 524 at Rs. 10,799. The dual-SIM (GSM+GSM) Spice Stellar 524 runs Android 4.4 KitKat out-of-the-box and features a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) IPS LCD display. It is powered by a 1.3GHz quad core processor (unknown chipset) coupled with 1GB of RAM.
The Spice Stellar 524 features a 13-megapixel rear autofocus camera with LED flash, while there is a 3.2-megapixel front facing camera also onboard. The handset packs 8GB of inbuilt storage which is further expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB). Connectivity options on the smartphone include 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS/ A-GPS and USB 2.0. The battery on the smartphone is 2000mAh.

Google Nexus 6 32GB


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Google?flagship phablet, the Nexus 6, has been listed in India by Flipkart?without any price or availability. Also, the Google Play?India page for the Nexus 6 doesn’t have any information regarding the release so far, though Nexus 9?page had recently listed the tablet?with a ‘Coming Soon’ tag and price of Rs. 28,900.

The Flipkart listing of the 32GB variant of the Google Nexus 6 ?notes that the device is ‘Coming Soon’, and it is still uncertain whether the Nexus 6 will be listed by other e-commerce sites in the future or if it will only be available via Google Play and Flipkart in India.

In tge US, a factory unlocked Google Nexus 6 with 32GB storage on Google Play costs $649 (approximately Rs. 40,000) and the 64GB variant costs $699 (approximately Rs. 43,000). The device will also be available separately via carriers in the US like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon, each of which will announce their own pricing.

In the meanwhile, over in Europe, the Nexus 6 was reportedly set to go for pre-orders?starting Monday, November 3, but a Dutch website reports pre-orders will be delayed to November 18. The report also notes that the 32GB Nexus 6 is expected to be priced at EUR 569 (approximately Rs. 44,000), and 64GB at EUR 649 (approximately Rs. 50,000).

 

On the specifications front, the Google Nexus 6 comes with a 5.96-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) display with a 493ppi pixel density; a 2.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor; 3GB of RAM; 32GB and 64GB internal storage options; a 13-megapixel rear camera; a 2-megapixel front camera; a 3220mAh battery, and Android 5.0 Lolipop.


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Have you ever been in a situation where you have no W-Fi router, just one network cable and five people who need to use the Internet? Or maybe you have a 3G dongle that works with your laptop, but leaves your Wi-Fi-only tablet offline. Sounds familiar? It would certainly be handy to share the Internet connection amongst all users and devices without a router, right?

Or maybe this scenario will ring a bell. Many hotels offer wired Internet access for free, but charge you for Wi-Fi and/ or for using the Internet on more than one device. So should you just pay the crazy amount they ask for? Not necessarily.

You can share your laptop or desktop Internet connection via Wi-Fi to other devices, and for the most part, it’s quite simple. Mac users face no trouble at all, as setting up Internet sharing in OS X is just a couple of click away, but for Windows users the process can be a little bit more laboured. The built-in options don’t always cut it due to the complicated setup and reliability problems.

Internet sharing on Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1
Thankfully, there are quite a few apps that let you use your machine as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Before you use any of these apps, you may want to check the steps on Microsoft’s site?to see Windows’ built-in Internet sharing and see if you have better luck than we did. We do recommend that you skip that and use a third-party app instead, since the experience is usually much better.

We tested some popular apps that let you do this - Connectify and Virtual Router Plus. The latter didn’t work very well for us. Our anti-virus flagged it as a threat and during installation it tried to make us install unwanted software.

We didn’t have the same issues with Connectify. It is a reliable app for turning your computer into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Before you proceed, know that you will need a Windows PC with a Wi-Fi adapter (or built-in Wi-Fi) to make this work. If your computer does not have Wi-Fi, then you can buy one that connects via USB, such as?this one.

Here are the steps to setup your Windows machine as a Wi-Fi hotspot:

1. Download?Connectify?and install it. The installation is pretty straightforward and when installation is complete, restart your computer.

2. After restarting the computer, check whether it is connected to the Internet. If it is, run the?Connectify Hotspot?app.

3. You’ll see two tabs in the app -?Settings?and?Clients. In the?Settings?tab, under “Create a…” click Wi-Fi Hotspot.

4. Under?Internet to Share, you’ll see a drop-down menu. Expand it and select the connection you want to share. We tested this app with a wired and a wireless connection and found that it worked perfectly with both.

5. Under that, you’ll see some more options. Add a Wi-Fi password. Click?Start Hotspot.

That’s all you need to do. Now other devices will detect a Wi-Fi network labelled Connectify-me. Key in the password and you’re good to go.


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If I’ve seen you taking photos with a tablet computer, I’ve probably made fun of you (though maybe not to your face, depending on how big you are). I’m old school: I much prefer looking through the viewfinder of my full-bodied, single-lens reflex camera, even though it has a large LCD screen.?But as I tested out Apple’s new iPad Air2,, I see why people like to shoot pictures with a tablet. Images look great on the large screen, and there’s less guesswork about whether or not small details, such as lettering on a sign, will be in focus.

And what you see - and get - with the iPad Air 2 is a better camera. The rear one now matches the iPhone’s 8 megapixels, up from 5 megapixels, and incorporates features such as slow-motion video. Packed with a faster processor, the 9.7-inch tablet is also 18 percent thinner and 7 percent lighter than the previous model, at about a quarter of an inch and just under a pound.?Apple is also updating its 7.9-inch iPad mini,, though the cameras, processor and dimensions haven’t changed.

The tablets go on sale this week, starting at $499 for the iPad Air 2 and $399 for the iPad mini 3. Both now have fingerprint ID technology to expedite online purchases through Apple Pay. Gold joins silver and grey as color choices, and pricier models have twice as much storage as before.

Improved camera

The iPad Air 2 takes sharper images. I can tell even before snapping the shot because I see all that detail on the screen. I’m able to read the small name tag on a baby bottle. Lettering on a van across the street looks clearer.?Last month’s iOS8?software update brought panorama and time-lapse features to the iPad. With the iPad Air 2, you can snap 10 shots per second in a burst mode - great for restless kids, as you can choose the best shots later. You also get slow-motion video, though only at 120 frames per second. The new iPone6 and iPhone 6 Plus?and iPhone 6 Plus?offer 240 frames per second as well, so motion looks even slower.

The new Air’s front camera gets a burst mode, too, and the front sensor is better than before at capturing light for indoor and night selfies.?Unfortunately, the iPad?still doesn’t have a flash. Although I prefer taking shots with natural light anyway, a lot of people like the flash. My advice is to light subjects with the iPhone’s flashlight.


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 OnePlus, the company known for its ‘flagship killer’ smartphone the One, will launch its new pre-order system on October 27.

The pre-order window, which will be live for just an hour, will commence exactly at 3pm GMT (8am PST or 11am EST or 8.30pm IST) on Monday. To order the handset, users can visit the dedicated pre-order website. Notably, users would need to create a OnePlus account before pre-ordering the One smartphone.

As per Monday’s blog post announcing the pre-order system, users would have a limited window to order the OnePlus One smartphone from the website. However, the firm would not limit the number of units ordered. While the already made units will ship out to customers, the rest will be taken as pre-orders and will ship later, unlike the system used in flash sales. Also, if a customer pre-orders the handset and then gets a special invite, the user’s handset will then be shipped immediately.

The OnePlus One is priced at $299 (unlocked and without contract) for the 16GB model (roughly Rs. 18,300), and $349 (roughly Rs. 21,350) for the 64GB variant. The firm will also be offering the new JBL E1+ Earphones along with the OnePlus One at a discounted price of $24.99 (roughly Rs. 1,530) (original being $39.99).

OnePlus last week announced its collaboration with JBL, the popular audio company, to introduce JBL E1+ Earphones that have been made exclusively for the OnePlus One smartphone.

The JBL E1+ Earphones feature PureBass technology and high frequency response. The red-coloured earphones with a flat wire design includes a frequency range from 10Hz-22000Hz. It also features an in-line three-button remote with microphone, which lets users answer calls, skip audio tracks and also take images. The JBL E1+ Earphones come with three additional pairs of rubber earplugs of different sizes.


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Many, many articles have been written about BlackBerry’s fall from grace; about how it completely failed to read and respond to a changing market, and the sequence of poor judgment calls that transformed its product line from a dominant cultural force into a vaguely unpleasant memory. This is a company that managed to alienate its core user base, eliminate the feature they loved most, and not understand for years what it had been doing wrong. The post-decline BlackBerry product line has had more misses than hits and the appeal of the platform has all but evaporated. And still, the company isn’t dead. Still, there are people who cling to their old phones or cry that the ones they’ve had to move to just don’t feel right. Still, there are people who desperately want the company to release a phone that feels and functions just like a classic QWERTY BlackBerry and will race to buy it as soon as that happens. The Passport is not that phone. It’s something entirely new; it might make some of those loyal customers very happy while disappointing others, but it also might appeal to those who never thought they’d consider a BlackBerry again. It’s a brave, imaginative device that rethinks what a smartphone should be and how it should work. Coming from a company that has spent many years in a mad blind dash to keep up with its competition, this product represents a massive change of direction. This is BlackBerry in attack mode; finding things that its competitors cannot or will not do, leveraging its strengths in hardware and software, and exploiting the shortcomings of the homogenous rectangles that all smartphones have come to be. This is the company deliberately upsetting the status quo and giving buyers something different and potentially better to consider. There’s a lot that the Passport needs to do in order to break through, and we’re going to give it a fair chance to do so. 


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n the past two years, Asus has released at least four different versions of the Fonepad 7. We saw a Fonepad 7 (3G) release last year, followed by the Fonepad 7 Dual SIM and the Fonepad 7 (FE375CG) in the first quarter of this year. On top of that, the Fonepad 7 (FE170CG) launched just recently, and we have it with us for review. This Fonepad 7 is Asus’s attempt at creating a low-cost tablet for the masses. While the spec sheet may not be impressive, Asus’s intended target audience might approve of the Dual-SIM functionality and voice calling features. The refreshed Fonepad 7 doesn’t look too different from the Fonepad 7 we reviewed last year but it looks like Asus has tweaked the design slightly to make it better. Gone is the plain slippery back, which is now replaced by a nice textured finish. This aids in gripping the device. The entire body is made of good quality plastic and feels sturdy in everyday use. Moreover, Asus has shaved 28g from the previous iteration and the weight of the new Fonepad 7 is 290g. This reduction is immediately noticeable since the device is easier to use with one hand. We received the black version for review but the tablet is also available in red, blue and white. The Asus Fonepad 7 SoC is an Intel Atom Z2520 dual-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz with an integrated PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU. The device also has 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage space, which can be further expanded by 64GB using a microSD card. Asus also bundles 5GB of space on Web Storage, its very own cloud platform, which is valid for life. You also get an additional 11GB of space for the first year. There is a 2-megapixel primary camera and a 0.3-megapixel front camera.

With respect to cellular connectivity, this voice-calling tablet can connect to the 850/900/1800/1900/2100MHz frequency bands. There is Bluetooth v4.0 and Wi-Fi b/g/n connectivity as well. The battery specification is not mentioned anywhere but Asus claims that it can play videos for 10hrs. We shall test this claim in our performance section. The Asus Fonepad 7 is available for as little as Rs. 7,299 on e-commerce platforms, which is a really good price for a tablet that performs so well. Yes, the software was slightly iffy in the beginning, but that could have been a problem with our review unit. The screen is not too great and the camera is a joke, but the cost had to be managed somehow.


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A recent report claims that the anticipated Samsung Galaxy A5, part of the rumoured upcoming Galaxy A series of smartphones, is expected to release ‘as soon as November’ with a rumoured price tag of around $400-$450 (approximately Rs. 24,000-27,000). The same report also claims that the anticipated Galaxy A7 will feature a full-HD display instead of the HD display reported earlier.
According to Sammobile, which has been actively reporting about the rumoured A series, on Tuesday reported that the Galaxy A5 will release in November.

The smartphone’s design has already been tipped in multiple leaks. Earlier this week, the yet-to-be-announced Galaxy A5 was showcased in purported render images. The images once again showcased the device sporting metal chamfered edges (and not full metal bezels and side panels like the Galaxy Alpha), and were in-line with previous leaks and rumours.

Previously, the alleged Galaxy A5 was seen in two purported images - one had the Galaxy A5 seen in a side by side comparison with Galaxy A3 and Galaxy Alpha. The second showcased the right panel of the Galaxy A5, with the power button and SIM card slot visible.

An alleged Galaxy A5 handset was additionally seen benchmarked on GFX Bench, which listed a 4.8-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display; Android 4.4.4 KitKat; quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 processor (64-Bit); 2GB of RAM; Adreno 306 GPU; 13-megaixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front-facing camera; up to 16GB internal storage, and a 2300mAh battery.

The Galaxy A7 on the other hand was previously rumoured to feature a 5.5-inch HD display and dual-SIM support.


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In most parts of India, power cuts are a common occurrence. As technology has spread, the demand for power at all hours has grown. Keeping that in mind, Kunhar Peripherals has designed a UPS that can be charged by the sun. With abundant sunlight but not enough electricity in India, a solar-powered portable UPS seems like a product that many would want. But does the Porta-Solar provide enough power to justify an investment of Rs. 5,000? We used it for a couple of weeks to find out.
Design
At first glance, the Powersafe Porta-Solar might appear a little intimidating. It looks like it belongs in an engineer’s workshop rather than a home. It’s not the kind of product you should start using without reading the manual. For example, we couldn’t figure out at first what the three LEDs on the front of the UPS were supposed to indicate as their icons are not self-explanatory.
The Porta-Solar has a solar charging port on the front along with three USB ports, a button to turn on the UPS, and another which controls the three two-pin plug points on its back. There’s also three-pin inlet on the back which lets you charge the UPS via domestic AC power.
The Porta-Solar is quite compact for a UPS, but looks can be deceptive and it weighs a surprising 3kg. Its portability is further diminished by the solar panel, which takes up quite a bit of space. The solar panel isn’t included in the package, so you will have to buy it separately.
Performance
Powersafe says the UPS is rated at 70W and recommends that you buy a solar panel of at least 24W to charge it with. We tested it with a 36W solar panel. This product is clearly meant to be used as a secondary power backup solution. You can’t expect it to replace an inverter or a generator.
The UPS takes a long time to charge using solar power. Powersafe recommends that you let it charge for at least 8 hours. During our tests, we found that it took more than that to go from zero to full charge on AC power. Charging time increased even further when we tried using the solar panel.
That wouldn’t have been much of an issue if the UPS had been able to provide sufficient power backup. We found that it ran out of power after we charged three smartphones (an iPhone 5s, a Nexus 5 and an HTC 8S). If you use a basic feature phone, then you might have enough power to charge it four or five times. The company says that you will get around 6-7 hours of power, but that might only be the case if you use a low-power CFL.
We tested it with a 15W bulb and found that the UPS could power it for 5 hours 40 minutes on a full charge. While this could be very useful in rural areas where load shedding is frequent, we felt that the battery backup time isn’t sufficient. If you want to power a bulb and charge a phone at the same time, the backup isn’t going to last too long. Note that this UPS wasn’t able to power a 60W bulb. It’s meant to be used with CFLs, but these cost Rs. 200-300 each, which will add to the up-front cost.
All this doesn’t mean the product isn’t useful. We found that its backup time was sufficient for short power cuts. During one of our tests, we had an hour-long outage at night. We managed to keep a Wi-Fi router running during this time and also charged a phone. Similarly, this UPS might be useful to take along with you if you are visiting a place with erratic electricity supply.
Verdict
The Powersafe Porta-Solar is targeted at rural consumers, and its ability to be charged using solar power will be useful in those parts. Its main appeal lies in the fact that it can be used at near-zero operating cost. Thanks to solar power, once you buy the UPS and a solar panel, there are no additional running expenses. At Rs. 5,000 though, we expected better performance. The solar panel costs around Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 2,000 more, further driving the price up. The long charging time and relatively low power capacity restrict its appeal. However, if you are looking for a backup power source that runs at near-zero cost, the Porta-Solar is a decent product.


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After a period of relative quiet, Jolla has once again confirmed the upcoming launch of its smartphone in India. The company has started sending official invites for a September 23 event with a tagline that says, “Join the unlikely on September 23, 2014.” The invite clearly confirms that the Jolla smartphones will be exclusively sold via Snapdeal. Jolla, the company formed by a group of former Nokia employees, first made headlines back in July when the company teased the smartphone’s exclusive India launch on Snapdeal. Back in July, the company offered interested consumers a sign-up option to be notified when the Jolla smartphone becomes available in India.

The official Jolla site, however, still notes, “Jolla is coming very soon to India.” As of now, Jolla Smartphone is available in the home country Finland, alongside EU, Norway and Switzerland. The smartphone is available to European users via the firm’s official stores for EUR 399 (approximately Rs. 34,000). For those unaware, the highlight of the Jolla Smartphone is that it runs the Sailfish OS mobile operating system, which has been developed by a few former employees of Nokia, who had worked on the MeeGo operating system that was being developed in partnership with computer chip giant Intel.

In February, Jolla had announced that it would be expanding the availability of its smartphone to Hong Kong, India, and Russia this year. Considering that the Jolla Smartphone comes with specifications best suited for budget to mid-range segment, we can expect the handset to be up against some of the popular smartphones such as Xiaomi’s recently unveiled Redmi 1S and even the Mi 3, second-generation Moto G, and Asus ZenFone 5.

Jolla Launchd its Sailfish OS-powered smartphone in November last year, and it features a 4.5-inch Estrade (540×960 pixels) display, and a 1.4GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. It also has an 8-megapixel autofocus rear camera alongside an LED flash and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera as well. Other specifications of the Jolla smartphone include 16GB of inbuilt storage (expandable via microSD card), and a 2100mAh battery. It is compatible with roughly 85,000 Android apps, and supports fast 4G Internet connections.


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Virtual Reality is getting closer and closer to becoming an actual reality thanks to the development of the Oculus Rift?VR headset. The Rift was launched via Kickstarter in 2012 and the first developer prototypes were shipped in 2013. The Rift Development Kit 2 followed this year and using the device was a largely impressive experience. VR keeps getting closer to becoming available in a consumer product and at the start of September, Samsung, along with Oculus VR, launched the Gear VR headset that allows you to experience VR with the Samsung Galaxy Note4. The Gear VR has gone up for pre-order?with a third part- retailer at GBP150, or approximately Rs. 14,750, but no availability has been defined yet.

On the Oculus, some of our favourite experiences of course involved videogames?- the Rift really makes you feel like you’re living inside those worlds, and it’s amazing for first-person gaming. There’s more to it than just gaming though and many developers have been coming up with experiences that use the Rift to improve education and tourism, among other things.

For many of us though, the most common experience on our computers is simply browsing the Internet. A regular Web page looks weird on the Rift and you’ll find yourself alternating between the headset and your regular monitor when you need to look things up online. This is a problem but there are some very interesting solutions being developed.

One solution is to use Steam to browse the Web. You need to use Steam VR for this - in Steam, go to Tools and install it if you haven’t already. Once that is done, opt in to the Beta, and restart Steam with -vr added to the launch prompt. SteamVR is basically a client to let you use Big Picture Mode while wearing the Oculus Rift, and it’s an easy way to get your Oculus compatible games running. And if you want to browse the Internet, just press Shift+Tab after loading a game to launch the browser.

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