08/04/2014

How To Choose The Right Digital Camera?

How To Choose The Right Digital Camera?
PENTAX Efina Camera

The idea of buying electronic items is mostly tedious as there are so many models and variants available under a particular category. Out of all the electronic items, buying a digital camera is extremely difficult as there are thousands of models to choose from. Firstly you have to decide the type of camera as there are different types of cameras ranging from simple point and shoot cameras to those mind-blowing digital SLR cameras better known as DSLR cameras. So how do you decide the type of your camera? It’s very simple; you just need to ask yourself a few questions. What’s your purpose behind buying a digital camera? How much are you willing to spend on your camera? Your purpose will ultimately determine the budget. For e.g. if you need a camera for professional use, you wouldn't mind paying a bit extra for a high-resolution camera whereas if you need a camera just for clicking casual photographs, you can get a really good deal within your budget. People who seek cameras for professional use will always prioritise features over price tag. There is a wide range of branded digital cameras available online. If you are confused about choosing the type of camera, the following information will help you pick the right one.

Choose The Right Digital Camera
Sony Digital Camera

Point and Shoot Cameras

If you are a casual clicker or a beginner, you should buy a simple point and shoot camera. Point and shoot cameras come loaded with smart features such as autofocus, various scene modes and optical zoom lens. You can click great snaps with a point and shoot camera. Someone who is buying a point and shoot camera should not focus on manual settings as the automatic mode lets you click great pictures effortlessly. Point and shoot cameras are ideal for clicking pictures on a holiday or at a party. Along with a list of impressive features, these cameras are light weight and fall in the affordable range.

Super Zoom Cameras

Super zoom cameras are one step ahead of the point and shoot range as they are loaded with advanced features such as image stabilisation, superior quality zoom lens and manual modes. This type allows the photographer to experiment with a variety of modes and get the perfect shot. Super zoom cameras are an ideal choice for those who seek detail. You can carry the super zoom camera on your trips but do not expect a DSLR like output. This camera is ideal for clicking wildlife, sporting events etc.

DSLR Cameras

When it comes to serious photography, a DSLR camera will be your best pick. With a DSLR camera, you have total control over the settings. You can manually adjust the aperture size and shutter speed. The best part about a DSLR camera is that you choose your own lens as per your requirement. A DSLR camera allows you to click great pictures even in low light without compromising on the resolution. A DSLR is meant for professional photography and is an ideal choice for wildlife photography, wedding photography and more.
Choose The Right Digital Camera
Nikon D3100


No matter which camera you buy, it will be incomplete without the right accessories. You can find the best quality camera accessories at rock bottom prices. Before you start clicking great pictures, do not forget to buy camera accessories like camera bag, tripod, memory cards, extra lens, batteries, chargers, cords, screen protectors and more. 

30/03/2014

Nokia Lumia 720 Review


Nokia Lumia 720 Review
Nokia Lumia 720

With a shared launch of Lumia 720 and Lumia 520, +Nokia  has added two new members to its lineup of WP8 models. So far we've seen Lumia 520,620, 720, 820 and 920. If we categorize them then all these models simply come under two categories based on shared core specifications. A high-end category and a low-end category. This thing raises the question that what is the need of two new models when both of them share same SoCs, same amount of RAM and same screen resolution?

Yep, both these models have relatively same core features. However, there are differences in designing, camera technology and display technology. But do these changes make 720 way better than other smartphones of same category? Do these changes justify the relatively bulky (it’s bulky as compared to that of 620) price tag of 720? Let’s find out what it exactly has to offer.

Hardware

Nokia Lumia 720 Review
Nokia Lumia 720

Design philosophy of Nokia has remained good once again. The phone looks like a clean rectangle of 127.9 x 67.5 x 9mm. It has sharp angles just like HTC 8X and Huawei’s Ascend W1, but Nokia hasn't forgotten to add the playful Lumia flair to the device. It has got round edges, but as you can see in the images, they aren't as round as they were in Lumia 620.

A sculpted Gorilla Glass 2 covers the entire front face, so rest assured from the side of scratches. Corners, sides and back – all are constructed of a single piece of poly-carbonate. In my case it was red, but other colors are available including cyan, yellow, black and white. The rounded edges and flat back collectively provide a stronger grip on the handset and it’s also pretty light at 128 grams only. Of course, it could be filled with metal but still the build quality of this piece is robust. It doesn't feel like a piece of bloated hardware with a small screen and also there’s not a lot of space left on the sides.

On the same Gorilla Glass sheet there are back, home and search keys while above the screen there’s a small grey Nokia logo below the earpiece. Just to the left there’s a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera. On the bottom edge there’s a mic and a micro-USB port while on the left side there’s a microSD card drawer. On the top edge there’s a 3.5 mm headphone jack and another socket for micro SIM while on the right edge there’s a volume rocker, a power button and a two stage camera button.

Nokia Lumia 720 Back, SD Card Drawer and Sim Card DrawerOf course, the back panel is also as clean as the rest of this handset. In the middle there’s a Nokia logo written from the black color on my review device (this color may be different on yours if you choose different hues). Atop there’s a 6.7 megapixel rear facing camera lens with flash. On the bottom right there’s a rounded loudspeaker grille while in the middle of the bottom edge there’s a glossy CE mark with the statement “Model: 720 Made in China”. However, this statement is written in illegibly smaller font. Above the mark there are three rounded metallic pads for providing wireless charging facility to its sizable 2000 mAh battery. The battery is non-removable due to the cleaner construction of this device.

Finally I would like to say that I like the overall construction of this smartphone.

Display Technology

Nokia Lumia 720 Review
Nokia Lumia 720 Display

The 4.3-inch IPS LCD display comes with ClearBlack technology and sensitive touch screen. Screen resolution is 800×480, pixel density is 217 ppi. Now let’s face a fact that most device manufacturers don’t want to tell you – WVGA displays are still pretty common among WP8 devices. These 800×480 resolutions have generally been used in most WP8 devices including Lumia 520, 620, 720, 820, HTC 8S and Huawei Ascend W1. Reasons for this selection may be following:
  • ·    WVGA Screens and the resources required for manufacturing them allow development of more affordable smartphones; or,
  • ·     Live Tiles and WP8 UI render the best on this resolution.

Whatever the reason is, still I must say that the screen itself looked kinda awesome during my testing. You’ll be surprised to hear that there’s not much difference in the display quality as compared to Lumia 620. 620 packs the same screen in a 3.8-inch panel, while this one packs the same in a 4.3-inch panel. So there was room for a notable drop in the quality, but still Nokia has managed to prevent that drop somehow. Pixelation exists to some degree, but it has been disguised from WP8 UI. You won’t be able to see it until you stare hard enough on a certain point. Colors are crispier and vibrant, blacks and whites are far more accurate and screen looks perfect for most tasks. Viewing angles, brightness, outdoor visibility and auto-adjust settings all are great enough. Overall we want to say that the display of this device feels awesome even at a common resolution of 800×480.

Software

Windows Phone 8 UI of Lumia 720

Nokia Lumia 720 Review
Nokia Lumia 720 UI

You’re already aware by now that Lumia 720 runs Windows Phone 8 OS. WP8 is a stripped back, simple and unique OS made by Microsoft. This is the only OS that runs smoothly even on the hardware that Android handsets laugh at. You may already have seen Windows Phone 8 UI several times by now. Along with lock screen there’s a home screen filled with Live Tiles and an adjacent panel for showcasing your apps and core features (i.e. settings, emails, messages and so on). Since it’s a Lumia, it has got support of several exclusive apps which aren’t available on other handsets. Some of those apps include PhotoBeamer, Nokia Music and Pulse Messenger (beta). There are also many image and camera apps pre-installed on this smartphone which allow you to take even more advantage of your camera; for example – Creative Studio, Cinemagraph, Smartshoot, Panorama and Glam Me. Many Nokia Here navigation aids also come preinstalled with this smartphone and you can download even more from WP8 store.

Camera

Nokia Lumia 720 Review
Nokia Lumia 720 Camera

Rear-facing camera is the main feature that sets it apart from other handsets of Lumia lineup. 520, 620, 8S and Ascend W1 all have 5 megapixels on the name of camera, but this one comes with a BSI sensor of 6.7 megapixels. The camera uses Carl Zeiss lens and f/1.9 aperture. But before we go into the details of this one, let’s take a look on the front facing 1.3 megapixel camera. This wide-angle lens shooter with f/2.4 aperture can shoot some really crispy photos in the daylight. But if you’re taking photos in low light or even in the room light then results may be noisy. And in some cases, extremely noisy. In the artificial light, you can see the exposure compensation stuttering in viewfinder as it struggles to adjust the settings under artificial light.

Lumia 720 Camera App

Nokia Lumia 720 Review
Nokia Lumia 720 Camera Filters

Shooting 720p videos on the front-facing camera also gives the same experience if bad lighting has caught you. You’ll end up with grainy videos. Under favorable lighting conditions you may get acceptable quality. To be honest, front-facing cameras do not act as main selling points in most smart devices. You’re not going to overcome from the disappointment while using the shooter for video calling or self portraits. Glam Me app of Nokia which is basically an airbrush or filtering app, is mainly for front-facing cameras. You can play with it for better quality.

Just like most touch screen handsets, you can tap on the screen for focusing and capturing but there is also a physical two-stage camera button on the right side for focusing the camera before taking shots. The toggle worked perfectly during my testing. But there’s a lot to be desired in the shutter response. It takes good 2 seconds to focus on the object and a lot more time in capturing and saving the image. You need to have a very stable hand otherwise you will be ending up with blurry low quality images. It takes more than enough time before you’ll be able to capture the next shot. Painful.

If you’re not familiar with the core Camera app of WP8 then I would like to tell you that it’s pretty basic actually. It has only a few options like scene type, white balance, ISO, exposure and aspect ratio. In subsections too there are limited options and I just used the automatic settings for capturing images in low light. On viewfinder you can switch between multiple cameras and still / video modes. You can also access other photography apps from the viewfinder itself. There aren’t any advance features in the core Camera app. If you want to enjoy the features like HDR, burst shoot, panorama and slow motion video recording then you’ll need some other apps like Cinemagraph, Panorama, Glam me, Smart Shoot and Photosynth. All these apps are pre-installed on Lumia 720. You just need to play with them.

Lumia 720 Rear Facing Camera

Now coming to 6.7 megapixel rear facing shooter. It provides mixed feelings. With my first few shots I didn’t play much with settings and only chose the right mode (i.e. night, close-up and so on). Results were not too great in those circumstances. But when I gave it the choice of auto adjustment, I got the best results. However, if you’re an expert photographer then you would not like to stay on the mercy of your handset by choosing auto (and I know that). But if you do not have an expertise in photography, then choosing the auto option will be right for you.

Macro shots captured from the handset were consistent, large and had fine quality but things started getting crapping up with artificial light. Flash itself works fine and releases enough light rays for keeping overexposure to the minimum. But you’ll not need flash in many circumstances because the BSI sensor and f/1.9 aperture suck up every single light ray for providing better snaps under low lighting. And sometimes it works perfectly! Since it comes at a low price point, it won’t be providing the low light performance like that of Lumia 920, but still you’ll be glad to hear that the quality is comparable.

Video recording with the handset is not as good as stills, but you’ll eventually feel the advantage of f/1.9 aperture and BSI sensor in the recording. Since there’s nothing good on the name of image stabilization, you’ll need to stabilize your hands firmly. The autofocus eventually stuttered and brightness also didn’t remain consistent during my testing. Noticeably the startup time for video recording is 1 second, half of the time required for capturing stills.

Performance

1GHz Snapdragon S4

Nokia Lumia 720 Review
Nokia Lumia 720 Snapdragon Processor

Lumia 720 comes with 512MB RAM, dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon S4 processor and Adreno 305 GPU. Benchmarks have shown that there’s not much difference in the performance as compared to other low-tier WP8 handsets. So basically, there’s nothing much to say about the performance. Booting time is roughly 30 seconds and you can jump into core features like messaging, emails and settings within a matter of seconds.
Since it’s WP8, there is minimum amount of lags. Apps won’t freeze, stutter or lag in this smartphone. Right now most WP8 apps run smoothly on the 512MB RAM but this case isn’t going to last for a long time. Now there are much more feature rich apps coming to the WP8 Store which require at least 1GB of RAM. Two such names are Asphalt 7: Heat and Modern Combat 4. So in future you may find 512MB RAM insufficient for completing your requirements. But that’s not the case right now.

Internet browsing also seems to be fine on the handset. Most sites load quickly whether they’re mobile sites or full desktop sites. Zooming in web pages also works smoothly. For browsing the web you’ll be using either Wi-Fi or HSPA+ at peak speed of 21.1 Mbps. Both work perfectly even on the longer distance. Radios are just fine for GSM (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900) and WCDMA networks and LTE Chip is missing from the device.

Sound Quality, Bluetooth and NFC

Nokia Lumia 720 Review
Nokia Lumia 720 

Sound quality through headphones is fine and well-balanced but don’t expect it to match up with that of iPhone. Don’t make it too loud, otherwise you’ll be ending up with low quality noise. However, call-quality is sharp and you’ll not feel problem in hearing calls. Bluetooth and NFC also work perfectly.
Battery Life
During my testing 720’s 2000 mAh battery lasted for four and half hours. This is the best battery backup for I've ever seen in any low-end WP8 handset. You may get a day of heavy usage out of it, but even on the normal usage it may last for 36 hours without any trouble. Battery backup has always remained a plus point for Nokia and once again they've provided the best power pack to this 1GHz smartphone. And yes, it refuels at a rate of 50% per hour. Fast enough, isn't it?

Wrap-Up

Finally I would like to say that it’s a great handset from the outside, but the lackluster inside leaves us desiring more. Especially at a price point of £300, it could be better with some more features. Except battery life, there’s nothing worth remembering about this smartphone. You can say that in an effort to reveal a mid-range handset Nokia has ended up filling old wine in the new bottle, which is actually not enough for justifying the price hike.

Microsoft Office 2013 Review

Microsoft Office 2013 Review
Microsoft Office 2013
Alright, so now it seems like we have experienced Windows 8 styled Office 2013 in an intuitive manner. Microsoft released the beta preview of software in July and on January 29th company launched it officially. I know this review comes a bit late as compared to launching date, but in these days I was carefully examining the new features of productivity suite for writing a descriptive review and today I’m going to present what I found.

Microsoft has made Office 2013 available in two options. First option is the purchase option in which user will be able to download the suite after paying one-time fees of $139. Purchase option ties the suite with a single PC so you’ll not be able to install it on any other computer. Another option is a subscription of Office 365 Home Premium which costs $100 per year and allows you to use office on up to 5 devices. As an added bonus you also get 60 minutes of Skype credit per month and 20GB of Skydrive storage. Office 2013 has also got an app store now and you can poke around even if you’re not a subscriber. Now when I've given thoughtful insights on the major benefits of Office 2013, it’s time to explore its experience. So let’s go to the review.

GETTING STARTED

First of all a big surprise for you. Although Office 2013 and Office 365 both will be available for purchasing in stores, still you will not find any installation disk in the box. Yup, what you’ll find is your license key which will be used for the installation. So in both cases, you will need to head over to Office.com for downloading the software.
As always, system requirements are the modest so you don’t need to worry about them. If you have got a system clocked at 1 GHz or more and 3.5GB of disk space then you’re good to go. Microsoft also recommends 1GB of RAM for 32-bit systems while 2GB RAM for 64-bit systems. And yes, DirectX 10 graphics, Windows 7 or older and a minimum screen resolution of 1024×576 are also required for the suite.
For downloading the suite head over to Office.com and enter your license key. After that you’ll be asked to sign-in with a Microsoft account — if you already have one then just sign-in but if you don’t have one then you can create a new account on the spot. On the next screen you’ll see how many out of your 5 available installations you have used. Here you’ll also find options for changing your payment method, your billing address, expiration date of your office suite, automatic renewal info and an option for cancelling the subscription. With all this information there exists a green ‘Install’ button and you’ll have to click on it because you haven’t yet downloaded your software copy. So hit the button and let it download.
Until it downloads and sets it up for the first time, you can view some introductory slides if you wish. As you’ll see, it’s interface is akin to the interface that we have seen on the Windows 8 OS when it readies itself for the first run. Once office is fully installed, it’s various apps like Word, PowerPoint and so on will appear on the Start screen as Live Tiles and not like desktop shortcuts.

Once Office has been installed on your system, you can sign-in to it with your Microsoft account. If your installation was an installation of Office 2013, then it’ll work even if you don’t sign in. You can also choose a border that will appear on the corners of your every document. There are 14 such themes available for this purpose in this version of Office.

OFFICE 2013

Microsoft Office 2013 Review

OFFICE 2013

I've already talked about the biggest features in the introduction of this review, but now I’m going to break down the big features of every item that comes in the Office 2013 suite. The first notable feature is the availability of a PDF document editor in MS-World. The nature of this feature is pretty self-explanatory — it allows us to edit the PDF document in MS-World. Another attention driving feature is a Presenter View in PowerPoint and the last big thing is a full-screen Reading Mode which is seriously amazing for tablets.
There is also a ‘Touch Mode’ in the suite which removes the Ribbon Menu and makes everything a bit bigger and more touch friendly. Resume Reading functionality remembers exactly where you were in a document for the last time when you were reading. This is helpful if you've been told to read the 60 pages of ‘Terms and Conditions’ by your boss or something else akin to that.

By default all your edited documents save in the Skydrive. This functionality adds new possibilities to working. If you want to share your work with someone else then you can send him a public sharing link of your document and the person will be able to view the work done by you.
Addition of online videos in Word and PowerPoint documents has been made much easier in Office 2013. Now you’ll be able to embed any video easily in the document while editing the document. That’s not all — you’ll also be able to view the embedded video directly in the word document if someone has sent a video embedded document to you.
Excel 2013 flash fill Excel has become more smarter these days and has got a Flash Fill functionality which automatically fills the document if entered data follows any pattern. Now finally, Outlook has got a new feature called ‘Peeks’ which allows you to see your calendar and other such things only by hovering your mouse pointer over them. Means you don’t need to leave your inbox only for viewing a calendar. Other social connecting options are plug-ins of other sites like Twitter, Bebo and LinkedIn etc.

The entire Office 2013 suite is fast and stable enough that it will never lag during your work. There is also a rotating set of templates and it’s content varies depending on your region and time. For example, you’ll not see any valentines day templates or any Christmas template in August. And you will also not see any ‘4th July party’ template if you live outside of US. It’s a nice idea, but I’m a bit uncertain about how many people use templates in their documents. But if you’re one of those who use, then this is certainly a big thing for you.
PowerPoint has also got a new transition effect category known as “Exciting”, and the exciting thing about this category is availability of animations. Yep, this category contains flashy and animated transitions. Some names include “Origami”, “Paper Airplane” and “Curtains”. But they aren't going to be welcomed in a board meeting because they have been accused of driving attention because of their playfulness. But I’m glad of their existence because they’ll surely help the people who love to show their work with few more resources.

OFFICE STORE

Microsoft Office 2013 Review

OFFICE STORE

Now when Microsoft has started the Cloud era of Office suite, it has also added something else for making the store up-to-date. Yup, it’s own dedicated app store. Store is live on Office.com and is accessible to anyone — even to those who are not subscribers of Office 365 suite. So even if you have only Office 2013, you’ll have access to Office Store. For now the store includes apps for Word, Excel, SharePoint, Project and Outlook but not for PowerPoint. However, they may come (or may not come) later. You can sort the apps according to any of your desired program — the choice is entirely yours. There is also a page of Featured apps. Just like Windows 8 App Store, you’ll find user reviews of every app in this store too. Installing any app is also as easy as hitting the ‘Add’ button. However, if you want the app to show up in the Ribbon menu of your application then you will have to take an extra step for it — you’ll have to hit the ‘Insert in the Ribbon’ button for this job.

Most apps in the store are free. Only a few are there which’ll cost you some bucks but they are sophisticated programs usually meant for enterprise users. And now finally something for my fellow developers — if you’re a developer then I want to tell you that there is a 20-80 revenue split between Microsoft and developers. Microsoft takes 20 percent stake from application purchases and rest is yours. This revenue split matches to what we have seen for Windows applications.

OFFICE 2013 STORE

Every app shows as a dedicated box in the right hand side of your document editing space and you can close any app by tapping its ‘X’ button. You can open and use multiple apps at once but remember that your screen size isn't going to scale with the increasing amount of opened apps; so with every app you open you’ll get less space for working. Opening one app only gives enough space for working, with two opened apps you get a bit less than enough but if you open more than two then I really don’t know how are you going to work.

For News apps or for Web Search apps your results will be shown in the same box, so you will not need to look on that IE tab if you want to search something while typing a document. This provides enough convenience while working and increases your productivity as well. These small things make apps much more useful and user-friendly.

BOTTOM LINE


Only one thing I have to say — Office 2013 is an amazing product. It’s fast, feature-rich, intuitive and meets the modern working standards. It redefines the way of our working. It also doesn't come up with a big learning curve because of a similar UI, so if you've been an Office 2010 user in the past you’ll not have any problem in working with the suite. However, pricing is a big question here. You may be wondering at this point that whether you should invest in an yearly subscription of $100 or will it be wise to pay a one time fees of $139, right? Well, the simple answer goes here — if you want to install your suite on a single PC, then go for the $139 option, but if you often switch your computers or Macs then it’ll be wise to invest in the Office 365 subscription which costs $100 per year.

29/03/2014

BlackBerry OS 10 Review


BlackBerry OS 10
BlackBerry OS 10

In past few years BlackBerry OS has earned the reputation of an “ancient wonder” in the smartphone industry. BlackBerry used to dominate the market, but only before the birth of iPhone. After iPhone came out, BlackBerry OS started to become a history. If you ever want to show your children what using a smartphone meant to be in early 2000s then just take them to a ‘rare’ store where you can still find a BlackBerry Bold. Show that BlackBerry Bold to your children and let them gaze on the smaller screens and tiny buttons of history.

BlackBerry also tried to change it’s historical image with BB7, but it turned out to be just another disappointment. Then Playbook showed what was possible with a clean approach of BlackBerry OS, and we demanded that experience on a smartphone. Now 2 years later BlackBerry has presented that experience under the name of BlackBerry 10. Actually it will be better to say, an even better experience as compared to that of Playbook. Sure shot it is the best BlackBerry experience ever, and has been praised by many tech geeks and media journalists. But is this experience enough for saving BlackBerry’s continuously falling market share? Let’s find out in the review.

OS LAYOUT AND USAGE Of GESTURES

Gestures, gestures and gestures. BB10 is all about gestures. You want to go to home screen from an app? There is a gesture! You want to check your mailbox? There is another gesture.
So if everything is handled from gestures, then there must be a learning curve in the story right? So yes, it is… but thankfully, it is not too curvy and most gestures you can learn by the end of this review.
BB10 makes use of several gestures for completing different tasks. And that’s why it has no physical buttons on the front, unlike most other smartphones. So if everything is handled from gestures, then there must be a learning curve in the story right? So yes, there is it… but thankfully, it is not too curvy and most gestures you can learn before the end of this review.

Most gestures begin from the bottom bezel of the OS. The most important one is swiping from the bottom bezel which brings you back to a tiled view of your apps. This tiled view has been named “action frames” by BlackBerry and provides you a quick and real-time updating view of what is happening in all your running apps. Just swipe up from the bottom bezel and you will always land in your home screen. This gesture is also used for unlocking the phone so it is the most important gesture for your device. This gesture may be the familiar one to Playbook users and is one of those lucky gestures which survived from Playbook to BB10.
8 apps can be run on one time in the OS and you can view the real time updating action frames of those apps on the home screen. Entering in the environment of an app just requires a tap in it’s action frame. For properly killing an app, just tap on the “x” button in the lower right corner of that app and that’s it! And playbook users, this gesture may seem a bit ornery to you but flinging an app to the top of the display will no longer work in BB10.

Coming back to the home screen. From here you can swipe left or right as per your requirement. If you swipe to the right then you’ll land in a grid of tiles where a number of 4×4 sized app icons will be available. Akin to Android, repositioning is done by tapping, dragging and then dropping an an icon on the screen while creating a folder requires dropping an icon on another icon. Folders are also represented in the icon space of one icon, but with a smaller set of other icons which live inside the folder. However, since there is no other characteristic for recognizing folders, it becomes a bit harder to find them if you have a sea of apps.
App icon pages and folder pages continue to extend to the right as we pack more things inside them. And yes, there is no gesture for categorizing them. Once again, this is unlike Playbook where you could organize your stuff with “Favorites” and “Media” pages. Widgets and other android-like or desktop-like features are not available here. Only icons live in this ecosystem. But a bit of room was saved for creating a static area that holds three special controls – a camera, a phone and a search glass.

Call history in BB10

From here if you tap on the phone icon then a dialer interface will come ahead. Now, this is divided in the three sections. Leftmost section gives you a look on your recent calls. In the middle resides your contacts list extracted from BBM, G+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other service. On the rightmost side there is a standard dialler interface with a number pad for those people who are still lucky enough to remember a phone number in their hard disk.

Search icon will take you to a universal search where you can search your contacts, your calendar appointments, your messages and even your web browsing history. Now this is fantastic, but since it looks in several locations, results page can be sometimes a bit longer or even overwhelming in some cases. And it seems like Blackberry guys knew about it, so thanks to them for adding the functionality of breaking results into categories. And one more thing, if aforementioned things aren’t enough for you in search, then you can hook up more apps too. Just tap on an app icon in the bottom of search results page and your text will be handed over to that app in a search format.

As you may guess, camera icon brings in the photography interface where you can capture photos. We’ll explore this thing in more details, but in it it’s own dedicated section.
If you extend this important gesture of swiping up from the bottom, then you will see a new thing that BlackBerry calls “Peek”. Swiping up from the bezel and holding in the middle of screen brings a row of your emails, calendar events, Facebook notifications, Twitter notifications and so on. If anything has a red asterisk, then it surely has something new that you have not yet noticed. For checking out what is new inside, just continue your gesture towards right and you will land in ‘BlackBerry Hub’. We’re going to explore BlackBerry Hub in the next section.

BLACKBERRY HUB

BlackBerry OS 10 Review
Blackberry HUB

BlackBerry thinks that this place will be so vital for your BlackBerry 10 experience and that’s why it has been made accessible just one swipe away regardless of where you are right now in the OS.
This app has significant importance for the BB10 OS and also for the company which has created it. BlackBerry thinks that this place will be so vital for your BlackBerry 10 experience and that’s why it has been made accessible just one swipe away regardless of where you are right now in the OS.

Whenever you swipe up from the bottom and turn right you see the entire list of your Twitter messages, your BBMs, your Facebook notifications, your emails, your calendar appointments, your missed calls, direct messages and so on. BlackBerry Hub combines all that you have got in a single place. Even system update notifications are collected here.

If a single place combines this much data, then surely it may become overwhelming; especially if you have got multiple accounts on every service. Theoretically it may seem amazing to have a glance on everything you have got with only one swipe, but personally I found it a bit cumbersome when handling large amount of messages.

If you want to select multiple messages and file them away, then it takes only two taps to enable multiple-select mode. If you want to delete a message, then it takes three taps. One tap to select it, other to bring a menu and third one to delete it. However, it can also be done by holding your finger on a message and then tapping on delete from the popup menu.

But in GMail app it is actually a lot more easier to delete an email. Just swipe the mail towards right or left and it’s gone.

Entering into calendar invites has been made a lot easier in the app. Just scroll down in the hub and they will appear on the top for your help. And as like always, if those meetings take place in a conference bridge, then just tap the number for dialing in. This type of experience has been a trademark of BlackBerry from very beginning, and it’s really great to see it here too.

If your mega-messages list is becoming too overwhelming, then you can choose the most important content to be shown in the hub. This can be done by filtering the hub by an individual account. For instance, you can select Tweets only from your work accounts to show up in the hub or you can also select only your BBMs to appear in the hub. This can be done by grabbing the lower-left icon in the app which has three notches drawn on it. Just drag it to the rightmost side of the screen and it will show you a list of all the accounts you have added to your hub. From here you can control the amount of content you want to see in the hub. This gesture is the common one among many stock apps. From this place you can also compose messages through any of these associated accounts.

Overall I can say that if you get a few emails or messages everyday spread evenly in a number of accounts, then BlackBerry Hub is just amazing for you. But if you handle the mountains of emails daily then it will soon become cumbersome for you.

KEYBOARD

BlackBerry OS 10 Review
BB 10 Keyboard

The stock keyboard of BlackBerry 10 delivers best typing experience ever found on a mobile device. Only one thing I have to say — this is the best stock keyboard that you can’t find anywhere at this moment.
Much part of the keyboard has been adapted from one of those old and BlackBerry’s traditional QWERTY keypad devices; but this time without compromising with the screen size. The stock keyboard of BlackBerry 10 delivers best typing experience ever found on a mobile device. Only one thing I have to say — this is the best stock keyboard that you can’t find anywhere at this moment. Sorry iOS and Android fanboys!
It all starts with a comfortable and easy layout. The layout includes a row of generously sized keys which are separated by gray bars for evoking the chrome bars you might have found on a traditional BlackBerry keyboard. This provides enough space to your fingers for tapping the keys.

The four-row layout has no dedicated buttons for numbers and characters except a few characters like comma, period and a space bar. But for finding those numbers and special characters you just need to swipe downwards. There are two pages of special characters and one page of QWERTY keyboard so the entire keyboard has been made in three pages and you can go to other pages by just swiping downwards or upwards according to your requirements. A swipe from right to left deletes the word you just typed.
Now talking about the most discussed feature of the BlackBerry keyboard – Predictive text. The keyboard browses your entire emails and message history for finding what phrases you commonly type after which word. As you continue typing, it helpfully suggests what you want to type next. And you know what, it predicts words in a very amazing way. It hovers words on the keys, and for using a word, you just need to swipe up from the key on which that word is hovering and that word will be entered for you with a space. So you don’t even need to hit the spacebar after entering a predicted word and you can start typing right after entering that word.

Overall we can say that keyboard of BB10 is undoubtedly the best stock keyboard for now. You can’t find this much amazing typing experience on any other smartphone.

VOICE RECOGNITION ENGINE

If you use voice recognition more often than typing, BB10 provides full voice recognition for your help. Just like Siri and most other voice recognition engines, it also makes use of network. So you will need to be connected if you want to use voice recognition engine of BB10. It offers a voice dictation feature which requires holding down of the period key for activation. During my testing I found the voice dictation to be quite impressive. It was able to type simple sentences like “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” and even the most complicated ones like address of someone’s home which requires several commas, slashes and periods to be in proper place.

After voice dictation there is Voice Control. The feature allows you to control your phone through your voice — akin to siri, you may say. Hold down the play/pause button of your phone (which resides in the middle of the volume up and down keys) for a few secs and a feminine voice will ask you what do you want to do. From here you can say things like “Call Alex”, “Send a message to Jack” and so on. And yeah, you can say some complicate things too like “BBM Fernando: I’ll be there in 10 mins” and don’t worry your task will be handled with accuracy.

Voice recognition is powerful, but sometimes it reminds us that ultimately it is a “voice recognition system” and not a human. For instance, when I asked it “call my brother”, it was actually looking for a contact named “brother” instead of asking which of your contacts is your brother. And yep, it is unable to answer even the simplest questions like “how many inches are there in a feet?” and sends all of those questions to Bing. So if there would be more commands, it could be a lot better. Still it’s quite accurate, helpful and amazing.

CAMERA

As I told above, Camera app of BB10 has a dedicated icon on the bottom of the screen. The interface of app is pretty simple — it has a focus reticle in the center which helps you in focusing the object(s) because it changes to green and contracts slightly when you successfully achieve the focus. An ellipsis in the lower-right corner of the app brings a menu from where you can switch to front camera/rear camera, select a pre-defined scene, toggle shooting modes, enable or disable flash and finally switch to 16:9 or 4:3 images.
While taking photos, there is no dedicated shutter button here. Yup no dedicated shutter button — neither physical nor virtual. Just tap anywhere on the screen and you have captured the photo. To select a different focus point you will have to manually drag the focus reticle to your desired location.

The app also has a Time Shift function which captures a burst of photos within seconds. If you are taking a group photo, then this option is seriously amazing for you. It will take several images of your group and after the shots are completed you can choose the best shot for every individual person who’s appearing in the photo.

After capturing the images you can either review them or if you like then also edit them in a very rich image editor that comes bundled in the BB10 OS. Crop them, rotate them or apply funkier Instagram style filters — it’s all your choice. No official Instagram available yet, but stock image editor is still pretty good in several things.

BLACKBERRY PROTECT

If you have a smartphone powered by BlackBerry 10, then chances are also a bit higher of losing it. So for protection purposes, BlackBerry Protect is back with BB10. Enabling the service means that you’re enabling it to phone home when it is lost. This is basically handled through a BlackBerry operated website, which provides the ability of tracking a smartphone if it is lost.
The website doesn’t only allows your smartphone to call you, but you can also make your device play sounds, display messages and you can also lock it remotely. If things go nearly out of control, then you can also wipe it with a simple click.

You need to have a BlackBerry ID for doing all these things. So create a BlackBerry ID and ensure that you have set up a secure password for your ID. After logging in, it will also ask you to create a separate password via website. Once you have all this set, you’re done.
In my testing, these signals took nearly 5 minutes to get delivered to the device (Z10 in my case). It happened after website showed a failure to communicate error on my lappy’s screen. But the good thing is that those commands were actually delivered.

BLACKBERRY WORLD

This is the place where you can spend money on your BB10. Here you get apps, games, themes, music, movies and all the stuff you may need to rock your BB10. Of course, there are several free apps too but you’ll find a distractingly low ratio of free vs paid apps as compared to Google Play or iTunes Store. And yes, since it is a new OS, there is of course a shortage of apps and you will not find 700,000+ apps like iTunes Store or Google Play.

There are a lot of well known apps like Angry Birds, Dropbox, Foursquare, RediffNews and Box but a lot of important apps are also missing as well — for example Netflix, Hulu and Kindle. Thanks to Amazon, it says Kindle is coming. Many Playbook apps are also available for download, but when opened, they look terrible. Seriously terrible. Controls are stuffed together in those apps and it seems like they have been placed here and there for just filling the screen. A number of apps become useless due to this reason.

A lot of premium music is available, but pricing is relatively higher as compared to anywhere else.
Thankfully, the same scenario hasn’t been repeated with media and music. A lot of premium music is available, but pricing is relatively higher as compared to anywhere else. For example, Unorthodox Jukebox of Bruno Mars is $11.99 here, as compared to $5.99 of Amazon MP3 store and $10.99 of iTunes Store.
Thankfully, video content has competitive pricing. For instance, Taken 2 is available for $4.99 as compared to $4.98 of Amazon and $5.99 of iTunes Store. But the worth mentioning thing here is that this content can’t be downloaded on more than 5 devices. This is an unfortunate restriction in today’s cloud-based days.

STOCK APPS

Although BlackBerry App world is still waiting to be fulfilled, still a number of stock apps are available in the BB10. Lets take a look on them:

Browser

BlackBerry OS 10 Review
BB OS 10 Browser

I’ll first of all cover the browser for two reasons — first, it is the most used stock app in anyone’s smartphone(s) and second, it is really amazing in BB10. BB10 has got a solid point with it’s web browser. First of all I want to tell you it supports Flash. For how many days, it isn’t yet clear and is entirely at Adobe’s discretion. But for this moment it supports Flash, unlike Android. It is the only one stock browser right now which can support almost any bumping and floating flash banner without having problems.
A URL bar rests in the bottom which also serves as a search field of Bing. On the left side of the bar there is a button that gives access to web browsing history and bookmarks. A vertical ellipsis on the right side of URL bar provides access to settings, bookmarking of current web page and so on. The same menu also provides access to the ‘Reader Mode’ which clears out all the pictures and ads for providing you a clear look of web page that is easier in reading.
Unfortunately, there is no method available for saving this view so you won’t be able to view it later in offline mode.

BBM

BlackBerry OS 10 Review
BBM

Ah yes, BBM. The heart of BlackBerry is also available in BB10, with some extended powers. Voice chat was added in BlackBerry 7, and now BBM supports video chat too with BlackBerry 10. For starting a voice or a video chat, just go to the messaging interface of a person and tap the desired icon from the upper right corner. Video Chat is available only with people who are using BlackBerry 10 but you can enjoy a voice chat with those who are on older versions. One thing is still unclear that which careers will provide this functionality on cellular connections.
Another enhanced thing in BBM is screen sharing function, the feature that received a warm welcome in the launch event. This function can make mobile enterprise support a lot easier. While having a video chat, users can share what is on their own BB10 screen with the person they are chatting. This feature can make mobile troubleshooting a lot easier. And yes, it can also help you in solving a crossword puzzle.
As I said earlier, BBM is integrated in BlackBerry Hub. So you can send and receive messages from there.

Calculator

Calculator in BB10 is very similar to the calculator we found in a Playbook. It has funky colors, and has an integrated unit convertor. And yes, a handy tip calculator is also available inside the app.

Compass

Compass is just another simple-yet-striking app of BlackBerry 10. It is just a freely-floating compass that always points towards north, but is a worth looking app since it has got clean UI. I agree, it is not the most useful app here, but you will use it often for finding your way; probably more often than Maps app.

BB10 Maps

The app will work only until you remain online, not even if you start moving on your way.
Maps have become an increasingly important part of smartphones. So not having a maps app would be seriously disappointing. And since BlackBerry was not in the condition of disappointing anymore, it has included it’s own maps app with BB10. It is also functional at it’s best. You can look on a map to see where one of your contacts is located and then start navigating with the app. But remember, this app works online only — means if you once get disconnected, you suffer from a complete loss of navigation. It also won’t provide re-routing for traffic, satellite views or POI displays. Also you don’t get any gesture to look around the map when you’re navigating. The app will work only until you remain online, not even if you start moving on your way. So if you can’t ensure a good signal strength in the area, it will be better to stay away from these maps instead of wandering in an unknown area.

BOTTOM LINE

It is seriously challenging to say a few final words about BB10, mainly because it is an emerging star from the darkness. Just like Microsoft, BlackBerry is doing a new start with this OS. Thriving in a world that is dominated by players like Android and iOS is really a difficult thing, but as a company BlackBerry has done lot of work for ensuring that users who buy this device stay satisfied from their purchase. I must say that BB10 is truly a big thing meant for touchscreen devices and surely provides a new life to BlackBerry smartphones. It also washes the old school image of the brand. Careers also want a break from this Apple-Google monopoly and want to see a third major player in game for balancing everything, so there is still a lot of room for BB10. Overall I want to say it’s a great OS, but I’m not sure that a fascinating stock keyboard, a few magical gestures and a screen sharing functionality will be enough for unseating the current dominators of smartphone market; especially when their users are already satisfied with them.

25/03/2014

HTC One Up Launch Event



HTC One Up Launch Event
HTC ONE (M8) Launch Event

+HTC  One Up has remained in the list of most rumored smart phones of 2014. Since the beginning of this year a lot of rumors have surfaced about the upcoming flagship smart phone of the HTC. The tech world is getting ready for the launch event, in what seems like an upgraded HTC One,  built to rival the iPhone.  We still don’t know what name HTC will be using for their latest smart phone, code-name M8. Names HTC like One 2, HTC One Up or HTC One+ are doing rounds.

Well, now the time is nearing when these rumors will get answered. The countdown of HTC’s launch event has started and a timer has been placed on the homepage of HTC’s official website. However, HTC has given a big clue about the upcoming device in the countdown. Whenever they post in their official sites they are using #HTCOneUp tag. The HTCOneUp is rumored to have a dual back camera, 5.2 inches display, HTC Sense UI 6.0. It is also rumored to have quad-core processor with 2GB RAM. Rumored to have metal chassis, this feature makes HTC One Up stand apart from the crowd.

A few leaked images reveal complete absence of button in the front, making way for onscreen option buttons. Leaked images also revealed phone is gold, silver and gray cover. HTC dual front facing speaker, with HTC Boomsound and BeatsAudio with would remain the same from HTC One, but accordingly teaser its going to have even better sound. HTC One up is comes with HTC One Up Cover, having clock and weather icons showing through its holes.

If you’re becoming too eager then check out the teaser in HTC Google Plus Page, but if you can wait then there are only few hours remaining now in HTC’s event. Stay tuned to TopTechAnalyst, because as soon as the event is over we’ll be posting the news about new smart phone here.

19/03/2014

The Selfie Phenomenon



Everyone's done it, you've probably done it too. You must have shared the results on Facebook or Twitter and it might have caused you a bit of embarrassment as well. Of course we are talking about selfie here.

What thought crosses your mind when you hear the word "selfie"? Is it a teenager clicking with a duck face or mirror-at-the-gym shot or much more embarrassing click in the washroom? Most people cringe when they hear the word "selfie". Why & when did selfie get a bad rep.

Selfies, on their own, are seen as a vain and proud way to advertise oneself. But that's what the point is.

Everyone is connected with family and friends almost entirely on social media. First to take the stage was MySpace, then came the likes of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Each of us has a profile page on at-least one of these social apps. If we are okay with profile pages, then why are we against those post photos of themselves?

Selfies can be thought of photos clicked at a specific moment of time. It has a more personal touch to it, than having someone else taking a candid shot. On seeing a selfie, you can easily determine the photographer and the moment at which the photo was clicked.

Now, coming to the reason of selfies having bad reputation. One reason could that its a relatively new thing in photography. With selfies its easy to take a photo of ourselves and share it instantaneously on social networking sites. The front facing camera of a high end smartphone like HTC One, makes it all the more easier of snap and share a selfie.

If you are comfortable with your selfie, then by all means, DO IT! Post as many selfies as you want and those who are uncomfortable with it, let them unfollow you or your post.

There are some unspoken rules to be followed while taking a selfie:
1. Be confident and OWN IT, people will notice
2. Share only if its worth sharing, Ask yourself, whether you really want to share?
3. Have fun with yourself, that is you.

With selfies becoming a social norm, social apps will catch onto them. So ride the wave, until it crashes down.

Do let us know what you think about selfies in comment box below.

18/03/2014

Android and iOS Apps for the Summer


For all those staying in India the summer is here, that means the days are getting longer and temperature higher. Summer is also time when schools & colleges break for vacation and people go on much need break with family and friends.

So lets celebrate this summer, with apps for Android and iOS which will help us to make this summer a memorable one.

1. 500px("Five Hundred Pixels")


500px

In this huge wide world, it becomes difficult to decide where to go. 500px, a new photo-discovery and photo-sharing service, provides you with inspiring photos. Explore the world of incredible and stunning images from your smartphone. A quick search for "travel" will help you decide where you want to head next.


2. Duolingo

Duolingo


How often do you wish you could speak the local lingo when travelling. Don't worry,  Duolingo, a new language learning app, will help you with it. This award winning app is fun and educational way to learn a new language, plus its free. Start from the basics with your first “bonjour” or “hola and move up the fluency level through series of fun challenges. J’apprends fran├žais. Vous?


3. Tripit


Tripit

Take the stress out of your travel, by organizing your travel plans in one place. From flights, to hotels, to meetings notices and more, bring together all your travel plans with this fantastic app. All you have to do is forward your travel confirmation to Tripit and relax as it organizes your itinerary for your trip. The pro version will track your flight delays, cancellation and also keep a tab on your frequently visited places.

4. Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

Best thing to do when there's nothing to do, is, nothing. How about enjoying an ice cold drink with good book. But with smartphone around why limit to just one book. Carry an entire library in your pocket with the Amazon Kindle App.

5. Paper Camera

Paper Camera

Fill up your Facebook and Twitter feeds with your summer photos of beaches and sunset. Convert your photos in real time, as cartoons and paintings and give your photo a hand drawn effect. Since all these filters are drawn live, you can watch what you are "drawing"

6. Mobile Data Management

Mobile Data Management

While traveling overseas with a limited data plan can burn a hole in your pocket. Make use of the mobile data management feature. Create a system alert to keep a watch on your data usage and hard cut off when you trip the limit. Also watch which apps are guzzling up your data and limit their usage.

These are few of our favorite apps. So what are your favorite summer-related apps?

 

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