Connecting To Your Lifestyle


Published Dawn Lifestyles Supplement, Nov 20th, 2009

Mobile phones already empower people to readily connect to others and things they care for the most, enabling the freedom and excitement of the connected lifestyle, where communication & sharing is instantaneous, entertainment options abounds & power is in the palm of your hands. The new mobile phones launched this year promise to build upon this even more, with ever greater integration into our lifestyle and technology that revolves around our every need, fitting our life like a glove. Which features are right for you? Take a look.

For The Fashion Divo & Diva

Mobile phones have now become every part the fashion accessory perhaps even more than jewelry, watches or shoes. This is why mobile phone manufacturers are sitting up and taking notice of the desire for style to match substance and why some of the world’s leading fashion and design houses have added an extra level of class to the phones this year.

After delighting the fashion world with the Giorgio Armani phone in 2007 and the Emporio Armani “Night Effect” in 2008,

Samsung Armani

Armani has fashionistas in a tizzy looking out for the Samsung Giorgio Armani B7620, a latest by the famous house. Designed by GiorgioArmani himself, the phone features a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard and a 3.5-inch touch-sensitive screen which utilizes AMOLED technology. Additional features include a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, GPS, 8GB of internal storage space and a microSD slot (supporting cards of up to 32GB in size). It’s only available at selected outlets and if you find it, expect to pay in excess of Rs. 90,000 for the phone. Have we commented how lovely it looks with those Armani Suits.

For mere mortals, looking for style without having to amputate a kidney however, look to the Nokia SuperNova line of fashion phones and stylish accessories like red & pink covers and bluetooth headsets. The 7310 (Rs. 11,200), 7510 (Rs. 14,200) and 7610 Nokia 7610(Rs. 15,300) feature good looks and exchangeable covers with mirror finishes to the screen, very handy for lipgloss lovers. The star of the series the 7610, is a slider which matches your mood and never misses a beat, gliding effortlessly into clutch bags. It also sports a decent 3.0 mega pixel camera and 2 GB space for your music.

Sennheiser BluetoothAlso perfect for fashion-forward customers, Jabra accessories are all the rage and if you’d like something special, try the Sennheiser VMX 100 Headset (Rs. 7500).

For The Social Butterflies

Most of us now view our cell phones as the key to our social life. Take it away and it feels as if the threads connecting our social life have been cut or at least worsened substantially. This is the reason is why companies spend so much money on catering to the continuously connected consumer lifestyles.

Blackberry Curve - Gemini

One of the best phones to incorporate a complete set of messaging features includes RIM Blackberry Curve 8520 aka Gemini(Rs.25,000). A full QWERTY keyboard makes typing and sending messages easy and comfortable, whilst the bright screen displays over 65,000 colors, providing a great viewing experience. With BlackBerry App World, you can also get breaking news and the latest scores, stay on top of Hollywood gossip, enjoy live radio or just play games. The phone also allows you to take photos or videos and upload them to photo sharing sites like Flickr or social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace . You can also send these to friends through MMS, the BlackBerry Messenger or other instant messaging apps. The same features can be found in other messaging phones like the Nokia N97 (Rs. 50,000) but at a much higher price.

Samsung StarFor turning heads, look to the Samsung Star (Rs. 14000) also known as the poor man’s iPhone, which offers a 3″ WQVGA touchscreen with Samsung’s widget-enabled TouchWiz and a 3 megapixel camera with smile detection. It can handle microSD cards up to 16GB and with DNSe technology it’s a music player in its own right. The document viewer doesn’t hurt either. Samsung’s announced a WLAN version of the phone which will be available soon too. Nokia’s tried to answer Samsung’s Challenge with the 5530 Xpress Music but at a much higher price.

For The Technophiles

Photography, music and internet are so 2008. Now there is a need for something revolutionary, that caters to the fact that the cell phone is becoming our new form of entertainment provider with both gaming and watching videos being on the rise on the phone and natural linguistic interfaces.

There are many phones which are aiming for taking the innovation lead in the mobile world especially the Samsung Omnia HD Samsung Omnia HD(i8910) (Rs. 55,000) with its 3.7″ OLED capacitive full touchscreen, 600 MHz ARM Processor, an 8 megapixel camera that should be able to humble even some digicams and of course the HD video recording in 720p – does it really get any sweeter. There’s also Samsung Jet with its 800 MHz processor.

However, even then our heart still beats faster by the iPhone 3GS, which is still smoother, faster, and more reliable than any of the phones out there. The phone features faster performance than its predecessor iPhone 3G, a video camera, voice control, and GPS maps with compass. Apple this time has supercharged the CPU, jacking up the processor numbers from 412MHz to 600MHz,iPhone 3GSdoubled RAM from 128MB to 256MB and has swapped out the previous graphics chip for a new version — dubbed the PowerVR SGX — which adds support for more robust visuals via OpenGL ES 2.0. The 16GB version of this sweetheart is priced at Rs. 65,000.

However for a more price-performance value equation phone, nothing beats the more powerful version of the N95, the Nokia N86 (Rs. 39,000). The phone is fully loaded, featuring an 8-megapixel camera that takes excellent pictures and include advanced options, such as a wide-angle lens and variable aperture. It’s also a capable smartphone and offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G support along withNokia N86 entertainment options whilst delivering on quality.  A must-mention in this category is also LG’s Renoir (Rs. 34,500). This touch screen phone, features a super-sharp 8 megapixel camera with a list of features which are only found on extremely high-end standalone cameras, such as Schneider-Kreuznach certified optics, a Xenon flash, auto and manual focus, sensitivity up to ISO 1600 and geo-tagging.

For The Professional Lifestyle

Gone are the days of traditional office workers tied to their desktop PCs, ready to clock in their typical eight-hour workdays. Now the shift from the predominantly deskbound workforces to enterprises full of roving employees is a budding reality and phone makers have launched phones catering to these knowledge workers.

HTC Touch ProAt the extreme end of this category are the HTC Touch PRO (Rs. 64,900) and HTC Touch HD (Rs. 71,000) phones. The HTC Touch Pro line brings together elegant touch screen response with the direct precision of keyboard entry, delivering a powerhouse   communication tool in a beautiful, compact design. Both phones feature HTC’s rich, touch-responsive interface, TouchFLO™ 3D, which provides a stunningly intuitive way to zip through common tasks like messaging, calendar checks or making calls.

The 2.8-inch VGA touch screen in PRO provides four times the resolution of most smart devices, making email, documents and web pages sharper and easier to work with than ever before, whilst the Pro HD version sports a 3.8” WVGA screen on which you can enjoy music videos, films and streaming like you never thought possible on a mobile device.

For most professionals however, RIM’s Blackberry range of phones especially the Bold & Pearl are still where it’s at. At the lower end, Nokia’s line of Enterprise Edition phones such at the E75 and the E62 are also worth looking into.

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B&O Beosound 5 – Launched In Pakistan


Beosound 5Bang & Olufsen have officially announced the BeoSound 5 in Pakistan, a digital music system intended to bridge the gap between the company’s high-end hifi systems and music stored digitally. Priced at Rs. 500,000, the system is aimed at two segments – the high flying bachelor (rettes) looking to impress their friends (esp. at parties) and particularly mature music fans –  who are tentatively making their first move towards digital music (which also explains the lack of compatibility with lossless formats such as monkey audio and FLAC).

Beosound 5 Controller
Beosound 5 Controller

The Design

Designed by Anders Hermansen, the main interface to the system is the BeoSound 5 controller, a 2.65kg table-top or wall-mounted remote dominated by a 10.4-inch 1024 x 768 LCD and an aluminum scroll wheel. The BeoSound 5 exhibits trademark B&O industrial design ethics – the sleek, minimalist lines, and use of aluminium in a reassuringly solid construction that oozes class – and is controlled at the colour display panel by a trio of metal rings that respond to the lightest touch. A Graphical User Interface provides the user the ability to navigate their entire music collection smoothly and quickly whilst displaying crisp graphics and album covers. An Aluminum and black wall bracket is included with the Beosound 5 and as an option you can have an extended wall bracket, a table stand in black and a floor stand in aluminum.

Beomaster5
Beomaster 5

Providing the power to this setup is the BeoMaster 5, a 500GB music server with internet connections. This allows the user to transfer uncompressed or ‘lossless’ binary versions of their favourite sounds onto the 500GB hard drive housed inside the BeoMaster 5, which can be secreted away in your media room or linked to the outside world by an Ethernet cable (though why not just make it WIFI compatible is something that’s really made me wonder).

That 500GB capacity means you’ll get around 80,000 songs (or digital photos), all without that trade-off between the accessibility of having music stored digitally and the accompanying audio quality. It plays internet radio, too.

Beosound5 Menu
BeoSound User Interface
Beosound 5 with Beolab 9
Beosound 5 with Beolab 9

The Sound

Beolab9
Beolab9

In most cases, that move to digital music comes with a huge drop-off in quality sound reproduction, given the highly compressed nature of most digital music tracks. What Bang & Olufsen have achieved with the BeoSound 5 is the perfect balance. In action, the B&O always sounds good and occasionally great, although as with all such devices, sound quality depends on the file types in which you choose to store your music.

My system was linked into a pair of BeoLab 9 speakers, where WAV and Lossless files naturally worked best: here, the sound is at once assured and impressively ‘hi-fi’, and has little truck with the high-frequency hardness that can plague many digital music systems.

Service Menu
Service MenuTo Access The Service Menu on the B&O Beosound 5 , Press Right Arrow – Left Arrow – Right Arrow Again – Left Arrow Again- Then Go, Very Quickly

Even more impressive is the fact that B&O have also done this without losing the tactile pleasures associated with handling a beloved music collection. The entire experience of handling and selecting the tracks is reminiscent of going through a record collection, searching for the perfect song to complement your mood.

Transferring the music via connection to the PC was problematic initially, but we finally resolved this by connecting a USB Flash Drive to the Beomaster and copying the music onto the HD directly.

The supported formats by the system include WMA, WMA Lossless, MP3, WAV, ASF and AAC, together with internet radio streams in WMA, MP3, ASX and M3U.  It will also display video in MPEG, MPE, MPG, AVI, WMV and VFW formats.  500GB is enough room for over 28,000 songs stored losslessly.

When the music comes to an end, BeoSound 5 will continue to play ‘More Of The Same’ (MOTS) – that is, it will find other music on your system that complements what you’ve already been listening too. MOTS analyzes tracks by rhythm, syncopation, key tonality and vocal harmonies, and creates automatic playlists that evolve as you choose music and add to the list.  It’s impossible to tell without experiencing the system how well this works, but B&O apparently have at least two patents pending.

Beosound5
Beosound5

In Summary

To sum up a system like this is not easy. However if you can afford it, we do envy you.

HP ProBooks Launched In Pakistan


Philip Lau, General manager, Asia Emerging Countries, Personal Systems Group, HP.
Philip Lau, General manager, Asia Emerging Countries, Personal Systems Group, HP.

I recently participated at the HP launch of their new brand of affordable notebook PCs, at the Karachi Avari, that merges business functionality with sophisticated design – the HP ProBook. The HP ProBook series joins the award-winning HP EliteBook series to form one of the most versatile business notebook portfolios in the industry.

The new HP ProBook family, is a low-cost business notebook designed specifically for small and medium businesses. Translation: this desktop replacement notebook has a good balance of performance, security, reliability and extras all at an affordable price.

HP Probook
HP Probook

First Look

Inspired by minimalism, the design of the new HP ProBook series combines matte and glossy surfaces while stripping out the extraneous, leaving only a stylish and clean look. The Probook is also distinguished by a choice of merlot or glossy noir finishes, a unique keyboard design and a set of professional innovations previously found only on higher-priced models.

The outer shell of the screen casing, like the rest of the notebook, is made of plastic. The lid is made of reflective, glossy plastic with the HP and ProBook logos printed in silver. The laptop screen housing it is a mixture of firm and flexible materials.

The full-size keyboard is a new design that HP has unveiled with the launch of the ProBook series. The keyboard provides extra spacing between the individual keys to help reduce typos and even includes a dedicated number pad (a major plus for businesses that use their computers for number crunching or data entry). Each key is relatively flat with a nice matte texture and the keys sit above a glossy black support frame. The support frame surrounding the keys is quite firm thanks to the design of the chassis which adds additional support for the keyboard. The only obvious area of flex in the keyboard is when you press on the number pad keys. Usability is the same as with traditional keyboards and the raised surface means fewer places for dirt and dust to hide making it easy to clean and more maintenance free than ever before.

HP Professional Innovations

HP Professional Innovations included on the ProBook s-series include:

1. HP QuickLook 2 software, which provides access to e-mail, calendar, task and contact information within seconds at the touch of a button.

2. The HP SpareKey feature addresses the hassle of forgotten passwords by using a sequence of three predetermined personal identification questions to gain immediate entry into the system.

3. For added data security, File Sanitizer for HP Protect Tools permanently deletes individual files, folders and personally identifiable information from the notebook, which also allows customers to recycle the notebook with confidence that their business data has been removed.

Pricing and availability

HP ProBook - Black
HP ProBook - Black

Estimated street pricing in Pakistan begins at a little over Rs.60,000. The glossy noir (black) option is available now and the merlot color option will be available from August.

The standard series (s-series) of the new HP ProBook models incorporate a mercury-free design, and features high-definition (HD) LED backlit displays in a choice of 13.3-inch, 14-inch, 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch diagonal widescreen sizes.

See Tuesday’s Flickr Page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tuesdaydigital/ for more pictures of the event.

Hp ‘Touch The Future, Now’ Design Presentation


HP’s Design Presentation

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Hp Design Keynote Presentation“, posted with vodpod

HP ‘Touch The Future, Now’ was held in May, 2009 in Beijing, China, where they launched several products, including the HP Mini 110 netbook, the HP Pavillion MS200 all-in-one Desktop PC, an upgraded HP DV2 notebooks, and some new HP ProBooks. The conference served as a wonderful opportunity to better understand as to what makes HP tick, and what their philosophy is when it comes to deciding what kind of product to design and create.

This was delivered by Stacy Wolff, Director Notebook Design & Randall Martin, Director Desktop Design.

Nokia E75 Launched In Pakistan


Disclaimer: The following is a personal opinion after watching the launch presentation of the E75. I haven’t used the phone personally.

I was at the launch of the E75 Business Messaging Phone today at the Karachi Sheraton. During the course of the presentation, i couldn’t escape this nagging thought that this phone would have been awesome had it been the year 2005 or 2006 but in 2009, it feels like too little too late.

For those who don’t know… the Nokia E-series phones enable you to manage your business and personal life. With the E75, you can type quickly with the side slide design, check email on the fly and browse the internet in your phone. Users can also easily access personal and corporate email accounts like Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, IBM Lotus Notes Traveler and Mail for Exchange. The enhanced email user interface supports most common features like one-click reply, expanding views, folder support and HTML support. The phone is meant for Enterprise, Consumers and Emerging Profiles. I can understand the enterprise or the consumer segment, but have a problem with the emerging profile though.. Question:- How does a Rs. 39,900 ($400+) phone (more than 6 months salary for greater than 50% of our people) satisfy Nokia Pakistan’s vision of “First Email / Internet Experience Being On A Nokia Device”. Especially given the fact that a Pentium 4 system in our country only costs Rs. 7000 (<$100).

Anyways, the phone is unlike any other enterprise version launched by Nokia – much much different. It supports N-Gage so us corporate types can now seriously waste time with Tetris and Snake, it supports music for those bored times waiting for people to show up however there’s no way to edit office documents without paying extra, so i’m not sure how we can increase productivity whilst on the move. I also really don’t get the 3.2 Megapixel camera, especially for a phone in this price range.

Nokia-E75_6839

The integration with OVI also left me wondering “Why do i need another email account, that too which i’ll need to pay for in a few years, if not months”. Also, there’s nothing great about OVI in Pakistan at least. I’m already saving my contacts on my laptop & Online, i have a free Skydrive which i can access from any mBrowser, i like Google Maps over Nokia Maps (especially since this feature doesn’t work in Pakistan) and so forth. Nokia  said that they will be giving us more services over the next few months but… I remain a skeptic. Most of the things that they will do for money, i’m already doing for free on my phone. Maybe this OVI service is targeted more towards the emerging profiles, since it’s estimated that only 25% of the population has an email account, so that’s a big chunk of the market still which hasn’t discovered the joys of ‘constant connectivity’.Will that chunk buy an E75 is another matter.

Word of Advice: Don’t lose the phone ever. If you’ve saved your passwords on the phone, it can remote access your PC. Talk about security nightmare.

Net Take-Away: It is my personal belief that Nokia E75 is more suited for teens than corporates. It’s main selling point is aimed at people who are heavily into mobile mail services and multiple IM clients and therefore could use a full-sized keyboard. That’s mostly the youth segment of our country. I think this is why they’ve incorporated music and gaming into the phone too. There’s no Facebook App for it right now though Nokia’s promised to rectify this soon. Why they’re calling it an enterprise phone though, i don’t know?

Conclusion:

All in all, i’m not sure why Nokia has launched this phone in Pakistan. It’s nothing like the E71 and especially given the price conscious market that we are, the E55 is better suited for this market than the E75. Messaging / media wise the Nokia 5730 XpressMusic is probably a better buy.

What do you think?

UI for Cloud Computing


I had a sort of epiphany whilst going through the LG Arena emulator regarding the future of cloud computing – the term refers to Line Of Business (LOB) applications or Software As A Service delivered over the net.

Googling the net came up with this link by Mr. Shankar Bharadwaj and Cloud Computing. He postulates that Silverlight and HTML 5 will provide the technologies to power the interfaces of cloud computing.

Building up on this further, my epiphany was that we can use gadgets / widgets as front-ends for the different web-services and like the Flash UI itself, have multiple screens based on our requirements e.g. business could be one of the screens, entertainment another and so forth.

This UI will be independent of platforms, OSes or technologies, so virtually you’ll be accessing the same interface whether it’s on the desktop or mobile phone.

What do you think?