Thursday, July 29, 2010

Motorola Mocks Apple....Again

Motorola's earlier ad for the Droid X claimed that “it comes with a double antenna design.  The kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like and use it just about anywhere to make crystal clear calls.” This was a jab at Apple which claimed that smartphones have weak spots and in areas of relatively weak signal strength, gripping them in certain ways attenuates the signal strength. Clearly Motorola doesn't feel the same.

Apple bounced back with a video showing that the Droid X also has the same signal issues the iPhone 4 has, although when held in the right hand (the other videos demonstrated the problem when the phones were held in the left hand). 
The latest ad for the Droid X is titled as "No Jacket Required", which doesn't seem to be a response to the Apple video, but clearly mocks Apple that has advised iPhone 4 users to use a case ("Jacket") if they are experiencing low signal strength (Apple is actually giving out free cases).

The ad has a catchy title, but I am not convinced that it has what it takes to lure people into choosing the Droid X over the iPhone 4.

Source - Droid-Life, Engadget.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

OlivePad-VT100 India's First 3.5G Tablet

On Thursday July 22, 2010, Olive Telecom unveiled India's first 3.5G Tablet, the OlivePad-VT100, running on the Android Operating System (doubtful if it will be 2.2). Notable features include
1. 7-inch capacitive touchpanel with a resolution of 800x480.
2. Supports 3.5G HSUPA, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS.
3. Flash Support.
4. A 3-megapixel camera and a front facing camera.
5. An SD card slot, 512MB of internal memory (plus 512MB ROM).
6. Mini USB Port.
7. 3240 mAh battery.

The company believes that the above features will make the device ideal for - "browsing, Multimedia, Instant Messaging and easy access to the world of social networking, GPS for maps and turn by turn directions, gaming console, an e- book reader, Television and it is also a Smart Phone allowing voice and Video Calling".

The tablet is expected to go on sale from August and will be available at Croma stores across the nation.

The device has some features that are missing from the acclaimed Apple iPad, like - flash support, camera, SD card support, USB port, GPS radio, etc. It will be interesting to see how this device will fair compared to the iPad. Although the iPad has not been officially launched in India, it is very much available in the Indian grey market.

The OlivePad priced at Rs 25,000 will be a viable option for the tech savvy Indians who were unable to afford the more expensive iPad (starting at Rs 40,000, ebay.in).

Other successful products of Olive Telecom include the OliveFrvrOn (India’s 1st Hybrid Phone), OliveZipbook (India’s 1st 3G embedded Netbook), OliveWiz (India’s 1st Triple SIM Qwerty device), OliveGenie (India’s 1st 3G Music Modem) & OLiveNexus (India’s 1st Pocket Router).

Source - Olive Telecom, Engadget.

Skype iPhone Update

On Wednesday July 21st, 2010, Skype announced a minor update to their iPhone app (now version 2.0.1).

New features include:

1. Multitasking - Now you will be able to receive Skype calls while other apps are running or when the phone is locked. You call also access other apps while in a Skype call.
2. App's graphic support for iPhone 4's retina display.
3. Calls with high sound quality.

In May Skype has released a major update (version 2.0) which allowed users to make free Skype-Skype calls over 3G, a feature which was to be free until at least August 2010. But with the release of version 2.0.1, Skype has announced that they no longer plan to charge a subscription fee for calls made on 3G.

We may have to wait a bit longer for the video calling feature, since Skype has already pushed it on the "Fringe".

Multitasking requires iOS 4 and an iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, or a third-generation iPod touch (32GB and 64GB models from late 2009).
Source - Skype.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Antennagate" Issue – A Self-Test

After viewing the Apple press conference on the ”antennagate ” issue I wanted to do some experiments myself, since I am currently using a Blackberry Bold 9700, which was one of the phones Apple used to prove their point. I had full signal (5 bars on the Vodafone India Network). I held the phone in all ways possible – both hands, up side down, front side back, but did not see a single bar drop. I repeated the same experiment on my iPhone 3G (Airtel India Network) and got the same result – no visible signal attenuation. This made me doubt the information provided by Steve Jobs in the conference.

I was curios to know what I was doing wrong, so as to not being able to get signal attenuation. I then realized that Steve had mentioned more than once that smart phones have weak spots and in areas of relatively weak signal strength, gripping them in certain ways attenuates the signal strength. I was annoyed because my ten-minute experiment with full signal strength gave me no worthwhile results, but decided to sleep over it.

Yesterday I was out for lunch. I was waiting for my cousins in a lobby, which was a huge room with two sides open. I happened to look at my phone and saw that I had only 4 bars on my Bold. I got excited because maybe I was in an area with relatively low signal strength. I held the phone in my left hand like demonstrated in the video. Two bars dropped. I got even more excited, and kept thinking why did I ever doubt Steve. I played around a little and tried different grips. From 3-4 bars my signal dropped to about 2-3 bars, and I never saw a drop of more than 2 bars. Unfortunately I did not have my iPhone this time around. I wonder what I would have observed.

All in all there was some metal in what Steve said, but I am not entirely convinced, since I did not observe significant signal attenuation. Maybe I need to experiment in an area of even weaker signal strength to be able to get the results Apple got.