Nokia Asha 501 review

The Nokia Lumia range might be making headlines, but Nokia’s feature phones including its relatively new Asha series phones are the ones making cash registers ring for the company across India. The latest to join the bandwagon is the Asha 501, which was unveiled a few months back by Nokia chief Stephen Elop at an event in India.

Nokia has been known to come out with solid, sturdy devices rather than flashy, glitzy ones when it comes to its budget phones. However, we think that the Nokia Asha 501 is here to change that and reveals the brand’s playful side in the feature phone segment. The much hyped Nokia Asha 501 has finally made it to the Indian market. But does it live up to expectations? We take a close look.

Build/ Design

At a time when phones seem to be getting bigger, the Nokia Asha 501 goes the opposite direction, opting for a compact build with dimensions of 99.2x58x12.1mm. When we got the device in our hands the first time, the word that came to our mind was ‘cute’.

The Asha 501 easily reminded us of the Lumia smartphones and though it is a bit chunky, thanks to its design, it fits in one hand easily. It is pretty light in weight at just 91 grams.

Be it an entry-level feature phone or a Lumia smartphone, the one thing that remains consistent in a Nokia phone is its style and design, which generally exudes quality and matches international design standards. The Nokia Asha 501 lives up to this legacy.

The front panel is dominated by a 3-inch display that is surrounded by a black bezel with a physical ‘Back’ key placed at the bottom of the panel and the Nokia logo on top of the screen just below the earpiece. Nokia has followed the same Lumia design language, placing the physical keys for volume controls and power buttons on the right. We did miss a camera hardware key, though. The top panel houses a 2.5mm charging port, a Micro-USB port and a 3.5mm audio port.

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iPhone 5 and GALAXY S 4 anti-theft technology put to test

The government has called on handset makers to implement technology that will potentially reduce the instances of smartphone thefts, which are increasingly on the rise. Several makers were sent an open letter months ago by New York Attorney General Schneiderman, as well as District Attorney George Gascón of San Francisco, criticizing them for not taking a more proactive approach to the issue.

Now two of those companies – Apple and Samsung – are having their anti-theft technology put to the test at a meeting under the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S) Initiative. The devices being tested are Apple’s iPhone 5 and its Activation Lock, and Samsung’s GALAXY S 4 and its Lojack for Android. The meeting was underway today in San Francisco.

Said the two in a statement: “While we are appreciative of the efforts made by Apple and Samsung to improve security of the devices they sell, we are not going to take them at their word. Today we will assess the solutions they are proposing and see if they stand up to the tactics commonly employed by thieves. Together, we are working to ensure that the industry embeds persistent technology that is effective, ubiquitous and free to consumers in every smartphone introduced to the market by next year.”

The meeting includes reps from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, more commonly known as NCRIC, according to the statement. Under the test, the smartphones in question will be “treated” like they were stolen, presumably with the security features being utilized to demonstrate what the result would be. There’s no word yet on whether either of them satisfied the state and federal ambitions for the technology.

Although California and New York are being most vocal about the move, the S.O.S Initiative is a national coalition that is enjoying participation from public safety activists, various DAs and AGs, city comptrollers, law enforcement, and consumer advocates. All of this follows the launch of a stolen cell phone database that went live in the US in October 2012.

Acer C7 Chromebook expanded for K-12 educational market with two new models

Acer has expanded its C7 Chromebook line for the educational market, tossing in some small hardware changes and tacking on a starting price of $259 ESP. The models are being aimed towards all levels of the K12 market – students, teachers, and administration, with Acer saying its combination of features offer the kind of things such an environment requires.

There are two new models as part of the educational expansion, with both of them featuring a 16GB SSD, as well as a six-cell battery that has a reported life of 6 hours. The lesser of the two models, the C710-2826 has 2GB of RAM, while the higher end model, the C710-2815 has 4GB of RAM. Boot time is said to be 8-seconds, with instant resume from sleep mode.

Under the hood, both models run an Intel Celeron 847 dual-core 1.10GHz processor, and feature dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n. The LCD is an 11.6-inch HD Widescreen CineCrystal with an LED backlight and resolution of 1280 x 720. Video output is comprised of an HDMI slot and VGA, while connectivity includes 3 USB ports and an SD card slot. There’s also an Ethernet port for wired Internet connections.

Said Acer’s VP of US Commercial Sales Gregg Prendergast, “Our new Acer C7 Chromebooks deliver exactly what the K-12 education market and so many businesses require — solid performance at an affordable price with up to 6-hours of battery life. Acer C7 Chromebooks will help our customers at schools — students, teachers and administrators — as well as our business customers, get to work and be productive right away for longer.”

There’s a Kensington lock for physical security, and educational buyers will have access to Acer Premier Care, as well as an option for Acer Educare Warranty Program. Both models come with a limited parts and labor warranty. The 2GB RAM C7 model is priced at $259, while the 4GB RAM C7 Chromebook model is priced at $279.

ReStor opens ISO-9001:2008 certified hard disk and SSD repair facility in Gurgaon

ReStor has announced the opening of India’s first facility for the test and repair of hard disk drives and solid-state drives with the launch of a ISO-9001:2008 certified lab in Gurgaon.

Started as a unit of dStor Technologies Pvt Ltd, the facility incorporates a completely sterile clean room type environment with electro-static discharge (ESD) safe set-up, a combination of indigenously developed testing bays/ racks and imported diagnostics jigs, backed by a trained technical team.

ReStor is targeting both end-users and corporates, in addition to OEMs, as prospective customers for its facility.

The company said that according to estimates by analysts at CyberMedia Research, there are approximately 68 million currently active installed drives in the country and their average active life is about five years. Other estimates say that about 80,000 drives fail every month in the country, while their warranty is still active.

At the moment, most in-warranty faulty drives are exported out of the country by manufacturers for repair, while out-of-warranty drives are largely junked. This puts a heavy eco-burden on a rapidly growing sub-segment of electronics hardware, not to mention being time consuming and expensive.

The ReStor hard disk and solid-state drive recertification/ refurbishment initiative aims to help the green cause by facilitating reduction of e-waste, provide more consumer choice with an economically priced segment, and enable warranty/ AMC service providers to cut down their support cost.

Emphasising the opportunity that the facility will offer to OEMs and/ or AMC providers in India, Sharad Srivastava, the founder-Director of dStor Technologies said, “Locally available refurbishment/ recertification facility will enable storage manufacturers to considerably reduce the buffer inventory required in India to service their customers and bring down the cost of warranty support.”

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EU demands more concessions from Google to settle case

Google must do more to allay concerns that it is blocking competitors in web search results, the EU’s antitrust chief said on Wednesday, after rivals criticised concessions it has offered as being inadequate.The world’s most popular search engine submitted proposed concessions to the European Commission in April to end a three-year investigation and responded on Wednesday that its proposal “clearly addresses” areas of concern.Google, which has a market share of over 80 percent in Europe’s Internet search market according to research firm comScore, could face a fine as much as $5 billion if it does not resolve the issue.

“I concluded that the proposals that Google sent to us are not enough to overcome our concerns,” European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a news conference on Wednesday, adding that he has asked Google to present better proposals.

Almunia, who has previously said he hopes to decide on the case by the end of the year, did not say whether he had set a deadline for the company to reply.

Google spokesman Al Verney said the company would continue to work with the EU competition authority. “Our proposal to the European Commission clearly addresses the four areas of concern,” he said.

The company has offered to mark out its own products in Internet search results, provide links to at least three rival sites and make it easier for advertisers to move to rival platforms.

The EU competition regulator has sought feedback from Google’s rivals and third parties and a number of them have said any concessions would only reinforce Google’s dominance.

Reacting to Almunia’s comments, lobbying group ICOMP called on the Commission to penalise Google if it does not come up with a better offer.

“The Commission must set a tight deadline failing which the commitments procedure should come to an end,” ICOMP lawyer David Wood said in a statement.

Another lobbying group FairSearch, whose members include complainants Microsoft, online travel agency Expedia, British price comparison site Foundem and France’s Twenga, said Google’s offer was “highly unlikely” to boost competition.

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Best small tablets: iPad mini vs Galaxy Note vs Nook HD vs Nexus 7 vs Kindle Fire

What’s the best size for a tablet? The 7-8-inch standard may be too big for a pocket, but it’s lightweight and compact enough to fit in a bag or even the glove compartment of a car, and of course it can do pretty much everything the big boys can do, just a little smaller.

If you don’t have brickie’s fingers and can get your digits around the smaller onscreen keyboard, you’ll get just as much satisfaction out of a smaller tablet. Some have the option of network access rather than just Wi-Fi, but of course you’ll have to pay extra for the privilege. Oh, and they’re usually cheaper too.

As such, we have rounded up our current favourite tablets in this category.

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BlackBerry Q5 review

For years, BlackBerry was prominently known as a device maker that focused on the enterprise segment. With cutthroat competition from the likes of Apple, Samsung and other handset makers that made Android devices, BlackBerry made a move for the emerging markets, leveraging its messaging platform and making economy devices under its Curve series targeted at youngsters.

The company’s Curve series did exceedingly well and gave BlackBerry a share in the Indian market. In 2013, a time when BlackBerry is reinventing itself after a massive overhaul led by BlackBerry 10, the company is launching new devices across different segments. After BlackBerry Z10, its full-touch smartphone, and BlackBerry Q10, a premium hardware keyboard equipped device, it’s now looking at capturing the mid-range segment with the new BlackBerry Q5.

Unlike its two BlackBerry 10 predecessors, the BlackBerry Q5 doesn’t feature premium materials, sports inferior hardware specifications and less internal storage, but runs the same OS and delivers the same software features.

After being widely panned for the pricing of its first two BlackBerry 10 smartphones, will BlackBerry be able to capture the attention of the Indian consumer with the Q5? We try to find out in our review.

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