Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Docomo's 3G Wi-Fi hub

Why buy a personal 3G SIM card when you can buy one of Tata Docomo's new 3G Wi-Fi hubs? It allows you to connect upto 5 wireless devices at 3G speeds!

What is it?
Your very own gateway to freedom. Freedom from wires and freedom from buffering. If you have tried to view a YouTube video of the baby getting scared of his sneezing mom, you'll know what we mean. This pocket device will work as a portable router for up to five devices and can connect using either a CDMA Tata Photon Plus SIM card or a 3G SIM as well. Either way, you will get enough bandwidth to watch your favorite videos without cooking dinner while they load!

So what's new?

We have had internet USB sticks for a while now and more recently, even 3G versions of them. But the 3G Wi-Fi Hub flexes its muscles by being able to shoulder the load of multiple devices connected to it. Any sort of Wi-Fi enabled device can be connected in a jiffy and while speeds may be compromised depending on number of devices.

Can I use 3G yet?
Sure you can, but not in some parts of the country ye. But sweat not, since this device is ready for both CDMA and 3G. If you live in a city that is still off the map for Tat Docomo3G, just use the Photon Plus SIM card and still get greater than normal speed for surfing and maintaining your virtual farm.

How long until it runs out of juice?
The claimed battery life is of four hours. It can be charged via USB or a traditional power outlet without any interruption in the signal strength. Very nifty.

So, you're making me buy one?
You could get faster speeds via LAN-based Wi-Fi but for travel and portability, this is ace.

Easy to connect, simple to use and with tariff plans that won't make you bankrupt, it's hard not to recommend this pocket-friendly Wi-Fi hub.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Google Docs offline: Coming this summer

Somewhat later than had been planned last year, Google is addressing a significant weaknesses of Google Docs and Google Apps: the inability to use the services while not connected to the Net.

"We will make them [Google Docs offline apps] available this summer," said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, in an interview here last week at at the Google I/O conference. "We've all been using it internally. It's imminent. We want to make sure they're good."

It's not clear just how high the demand for the feature is. Although we find offline Google Docs' absence a critical weakness, Google cited low interest in the idea as one justification for why it had removed an earlier attempt at the technology in 2008.

One thing is very different from three years ago, though: Chrome OS, which in June will move from prototype to product with Chromebook models from Acer and Samsung.

With Chrome OS, Google is betting that the world is ready for a browser-based operating system. For office workers using a Chrome OS machine to enter customer data into a Web form, offline access is no big deal, but for Chromebooks to reach their full potential, they have to be able to handle a bit more of what even the lowest-end PC can do. That includes being useful when you're on a subway, on an airplane, or heaven forbid, in some primitive backwater that's not saturated with reliable 3G.

Google reassures people that offline Web apps are now possible to program thanks to a number of interfaces such as AppCache and IndexedDB arriving in browsers. But actually taking advantage of those interfaces isn't necessarily easy.

Google Docs was supposed to get offline abilities in early 2011, for example.

Offline Docs hasn't been easy, in part because of years of shifts in the plumbing used to let browsers look for data on a local computer rather than a remote server on the other side of the Internet.

Initially, Google Docs had some incomplete offline support through a Google technology called Gears. Google removed that support when it discontinued Gears in favor of open Web standards that accomplished similar goals. The technology in Gears for offline storage was a SQL database interface that was closely related to the Web SQL Database standard for browsers. However, Mozilla and Microsoft didn't like its approach, and Web SQL's standardization was derailed.

A final challenge for Google might be its own vision. The company is betting heavily on a future in which the Internet is built into the fabric of our lives. Indeed, with lobbying and investments in networking technology, it's trying to hasten the arrival of that future.

Google has perhaps a better idea of what that future looks like. Its campuses are bathed in Wi-Fi and peppered with Ethernet ports. Employees have home broadband, Net-connected shuttle buses, and for those moments in between, wireless data modems.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that Pichai said he must consciously remember to unplug from the Net if he wants to try offline features of Google Docs.

But for those of us not in the Google bubble, with spotty 3G and capped data for our smartphone and home broadband, offline support is essential.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Initial Thoughts On The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook

Google has finally made good on their promise to deliver Chrome OS to the world this summer. Or they will, on June 15 when the first Chromebooks are available. Following the formal unveiling on day two of Google I/O, Samsung and Google held a joint event to further show off the hardware to a group of journalists.

First of all, the Samsung device seems far faster than the Cr-48. That’s a bit surprising since the specs are not all that different except for the fact that the Series 5 has a dual-core Intel Atom chip as opposed to the single-core one that the Cr-48 has. The RAM, SSD, etc, are the same. So apparently the chip does make the big difference.
Flash playback had also been a big problem with the Cr-48. On Series 5, Flash seems to work pretty well — even in HD on sites like YouTube and Hulu. Well, 720p anyway. 1080p produced quite a bit of lag, and yes, some serious undercarriage heat.

As for the trackpad, it’s also much improved. It’s not nice as nice as the glass MacBook trackpad, but it is able to track where you finger is moving in realtime (which the Cr-48 could not always do). It still feels a little cheap, but it works more or less as expected.

But the initial thing you will notice about the Samsung Series 5 is what a good first impression it makes. That’s because the thing starts up nearly instantaneously. Google is claiming an 8-second boot, we think it might be ever faster. Compare that to a Mac or PC which often takes several times as long (though the Macs with new SSDs are very fast as well).

Even better is that when you hit the login screen and enter your Google credentials (assuming you have them, of course), everything in synced within seconds. That means your bookmarks, passwords, and even extensions/apps hop over to the new machine seamlessly through the air. This experience was actually one of the cooler things we have seen in a while. Such integration will probably give a regular user that “magical” type feeling.

And let’s talk about the price, because that will be very important. While the Samsung models (and the even cheaper Acer model) easily beat any Mac laptop in price, they are in line with several PC notebooks already on the market. And because these Chromebooks are stripped of many of the features people typically look for when PC shopping, it will be interesting to see how these stack up on and (where they will initially be sold).

Getting below the $500 threshold was crucial, but they may need models half that price if they really want them to move against cheap PC notebooks.

The sub-$500 price was also critical to get below the iPad. At least at first, consumers are likely going to look at Chromebooks as cheap, secondary machines, and not full-on computer replacements. Fair or not, that will run head-first into the iPad market as well. So again, the cheaper Google can make these things, the better.

The truth is that, based on our initial impression, Chromebooks are likely to be good enough to replace a full-on computer for many users. There will be reluctance at first to accept this idea simply because change is hard. But if Google can break the Windows mindset — something that will be much easier said than done — you should see users start to move over.

Make no mistake, Chromebooks are a direct attack on Microsoft. Thanks to Chrome, Google Search, Gmail, etc, Google has all the data they need to know that people spend the vast majority of their time on computers these days in the web browser. So why not just cut out the middle man? Microsoft.

These initial Chromebooks are just act one of this melodrama. But it looks to be a pretty good act one.