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Apple’s iPad 2 in India

Apple’s iPad 2 in India  😉

In a move that has taken everyone by surprise, Apple has launched the iPad 2 in India. Compared to the first generation iPad, which was launched nine months after its US launch, the iPad 2 lands in India just over a month after the US launch. India isn’t the only country getting it. The iPad 2 is being launched in 12 countries. Japan would be getting it first on April 28 whereas India, Hong Kong, Israel, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey and UAE will be getting it on April 29. Additionally, China is also expected to get the iPad 2, but it will have to wait till May 6.

Now you must be waiting for the price. Contrary to its US counterpart, iPad 2 in India is slightly more expensive than the model it replaces. The original iPad was launched at Rs. 27,900 and was later dropped to Rs. 24,500. The iPad 2 starts at Rs. 29,500 and goes all the way up to Rs. 46,900.

The following are the prices of all the models. They include VAT and are M.R.P.

16GB Wi-Fi: Rs. 29,500
32G Wi-Fi: Rs. 34,500
64GB Wi-Fi: Rs. 39,500
16GB 3G + Wi-Fi: Rs. 36,900
32GB 3G + Wi-Fi: Rs. 41,900
64GB 3G + Wi-Fi: Rs. 46,900

Expert Review

Apple certainly likes to make the few people in India who like their products wait. Even then we somehow manage to get our hands on their products before they launch them here. Last year we were one of the first in India to get our hands on an iPad and publish our hands-on experience with it. This year, as luck would have it, our Head of HR decided to get an iPad for herself from the UK and was glad to lend it to us for a preview. Of course, we know better than to keep an owner away from their new gadget for long, so we only had enough time to do a quick preview like last time instead of a full review. Still, what follows is a sufficiently detailed description that should give you an idea of what exactly the new iPad 2 is all about.

iPad 2

Design

The iPad was never particularly thick but it’s only after you hold the iPad 2 do you realize just how thick it really is. The iPad had a curved back and almost a centimeter thick edge. The iPad 2 has a flat back and almost no side edge at all. Instead, the back just curves upward to meet the front side, just like on the fourth generation iPod touch.

iPad 2

This does have a considerable effect on the ergonomics. While the new design worked against the iPod touch, it improves the feel of the iPad 2 considerably. The iPad 2 feels much better in hand and also gives you a better grip. The weight is also better distributed on the iPad 2 unlike the iPad, where the bulging center felt heavier than the sides. Apple has also reduced the overall weight, however, it still feels a bit heavy for extended single-handed usage. The problem, more than the weight itself, is the width of the device, which spreads the weight away from your hand, thus putting more strain on your wrist.

iPad 2

When viewed from the front, the iPad 2 again looks smaller. It lacks the substantial metal border found on the iPad and in case of the iPad 2 the glass now seems to go almost till the edge. There is still a significant bezel around the display, necessary if you are to hold the device without touching the touchscreen. You may also notice the FaceTime camera above the display, with the ambient light sense located slightly above it.

iPad 2

Around the sides, the volume control and the screen lock/mute buttons are in the same position as before. Again, unlike the iPod touch fourth generation, the change in design has had no negative effect on the ergonomics. The SIM card slot has been relocated on the iPad 2. It is now near the top edge of the left side instead of near the middle. On top is the 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button and the microphone is now in the middle of the 3G antenna.

iPad 2

iPad 2

As mentioned before, the back is completely flat now. You can see the camera lens in the top left corner with a chrome surround. There is no flash on the iPad, even though it could have used one. Below you will see the new loudspeaker grille. I had my doubts about the new design until I saw it in person and it does actually look a lot better than it does in pictures.

iPad 2

Build quality-wise the iPad 2 is just as good as its predecessor. It feels like a solid, well-built device. Although the thinner design and the lower weight does give it a slight toy-like feel there is nothing cheap about it.

Display

A lot of people expected the iPad 2 to have a Retina display but that was a tall order, even for Apple. Quadrupling the resolution of the iPad would have put serious strain on the hardware and consumed more power, neither of which are desirable. Thus the iPad 2 comes with the same display as the iPad, but there are some changes.

For starters, the display is now even closer to the protective glass surface, which gives the feeling of touching the actual display instead of the glass and also increases the already excellent viewing angles. The display is also slightly brighter and livelier than the previous model, although this is only noticeable when you have both the devices side by side.

The display is protected by the same scratch resistant glass with an oleophobic coating. We tested the scratch resistance and found it to be satisfactory. The oleophobic coating doesn’t really do a good job of keeping the fingerprints away though. After a few minutes of using the device the screen gets littered with smudges. What it does though is make the screen easier to clean, so a couple of swipes with a soft cloth are enough to get the smudges off the glass.

Hardware and Software

The iPad 2 runs on a 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor with 512MB of RAM, which Apple claims is twice as fast than the A4 in the iPad. The graphics have been upgraded from PowerVR SGX535 on the iPad to SGX543MP, which Apple claims is nine times faster than before. As usual, we would suggest you take these claims with a pinch of salt. However, there is no denying the fact that the hardware is considerably faster than before.

The iPad 2 works on GSM as well as CDMA networks and supports 3G connectivity on either. It also supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth v2.1 and A-GPS on the 3G models. It has built-in accelerometer, magnetometer and now also a gyroscope. It is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities.

The iPad 2 also comes with two camera, the front one capable of stills as well as video in VGA resolution at 30FPS and the rear one can record stills in 960 x 720 resolution and videos in 1280 x 720 resolution at 30FPS.

Software-wise, nearly everything is identical, expect for certain apps that take advantage of the new hardware in iPad 2. There is the FaceTime app that lets you do video calls with other iPad 2, iPhone 4, iPod touch and Mac users over Wi-Fi. There is also the Photo Booth app that lets you take pictures with various effects. Then of course there is the camera app for taking photos and videos. The camera application is the same as the one on the iPhone 4 and the iPod touch, but isn’t as easy to use.

The culprit is the camera shutter button that is placed awkwardly on the screen. No matter which orientation you hold the device, it is in the bottom left corner of the screen. This makes it difficult for you to access the button with your thumbs, especially in landscape mode, where you will have to use one hand to hold the device and other to press the shutter. Coming from Apple, which usually spends a lot of time honing the design of their applications, this ergonomics disaster comes as a real shock.

The last difference that we noticed was the iPad cover option we found in the menu. The item is only visible after you attach the cover for the first time. It lets you choose whether to lock/unlock the iPad 2 when you close/open the cover.

iPad 2

Performance

We expected the iPad 2 to be faster and it did not disappoint. On the homescreen the difference is not perceptible, but fire up some applications and the dual-core processor immediately makes its presence felt. In Maps, for example, the map curling animation for showing additional options faltered on the iPad, but was butter smooth on the iPad 2. We loaded some 3D games and immediately noticed a smoother framerate on the iPad 2. In some cases, the difference wasn’t noticeable. Only those apps that pushed the limits of the first iPad’s hardware show noticeable improvements on the iPad 2.

Developers are already coming out with games that take advantage of the iPad 2’s improved hardware. Games such as Infinity Blade now have better details, textures and anti-aliasing effects on the iPad 2.

The extra RAM comes in handy while web browsing or multitasking. On the iPad if you open several heavy pages one after the other, by the time you reach the last one, the browser would have removed the first page from the memory, causing it to reload when you try to access it again. This is not a problem anymore on the iPad 2. Also, when scrolling, you see the chequered pattern far less, unless you scroll really fast. While multitasking, if you open too many applications on the iPad, it would eventually close them in the background and when you try to access them they would restart instead of resuming their state. Again, this does not happen on the iPad 2.

If you thought that becoming thinner would affect the performance of the loudspeaker then you were wrong. The loudspeaker actually sounds better than before. It is slightly louder and has better clarity. In comparison, the iPad’s loudspeaker sounds slightly muffled as if being blocked by something. The iPad 2 loudspeaker also uses the surface to bounce sound off, something the iPad cannot. We are still disappointed by the lack of stereo loudspeaker on the device though. Having the sound coming from one corner of such a large device feels weird and imbalanced, even if it is clearer than before.

One of the major additions to the iPad 2 are the cameras on board. Unfortunately, their quality leaves a lot to be desired. It almost feels as if Apple added them only for the sake of having them and not because they wanted to. The cameras are same as the ones used in the iPod touch. The camera on the back is capable of recording 720p video of decent quality. The still images, however, are quite poor in detail and very noisy.

The front camera will be used mostly for video calls and for that purpose it has good enough quality. We do have an issue with the location of the camera. As we noted in our Samsung Galaxy Tab review, the camera is located way too high from the center of the display. This means when you look at the screen at the other person, the other person will feel as if you are looking down somewhere and not at them. If you look at the lens the other person will feel you are looking at them, then you cannot see the screen below.

This wasn’t much of a problem on the iPhone 4 or the iPod touch, where the camera is located very close to the center of the display. Also, if you hold the device as you usually do, then your face will appear at the bottom of the screen. You will then have to tilt the iPad 2 for your face to appear in the middle of the screen. If only Apple had tilted the camera slightly, it would have solved this situation. As for the first problem, there is no way to solve that. Holding the device sideways only makes things worse.

Smart Cover

Smart Cover is the name given by Apple for their range of covers designed for the iPad 2. It features a magnetic latch that lets it attach itself automatically and precisely at the same position every time. You just have to bring it close to the iPad 2 and it clings automatically. Smart Covers have magnets placed all over them that attract to the magnets present in the bezel on the iPad 2 that helps them stay put when you close them. It also lets the iPad 2 know when you open or close the cover, so it can automatically unlock or lock itself.

smart cover

smart cover

smart cover

Smart Covers can fold into a triangle and form a stand so you can use it to watch a video on the iPad 2 or raises one side so you can type comfortably. The cover for the first iPad could do something similar but it also added a lot to the thickness of the device and getting the iPad in and out of it was also a pain. The Smart Covers are really thin. Even with the cover on the iPad 2 is thinner than the first iPad.

smart cover

smart cover

What it did though was cover the iPad completely, something the Smart Cover does not do. It leaves the back side vulnerable, which is bound to pick up scratches over time. Actually, the back side is more sensitive than the front, as it has a scratch resistant display and we would have preferred if Apple had come up with something that protected the back rather than the front. We also don’t like the way the Smart Cover refuses to cling to the back side when you open it and just tends to hang around.

smart cover

smart cover

You can fold it in half and put it under your fingers but then that would increase the thickness of the iPad 2. If you are indoors it is just easier to remove it when you are using the device and snap it back on when you are done. The microfiber lining underneath the cover rubs against the display and reduces the fingerprints and dust.

smart cover

smart cover

The Smart Covers are available in polyurethane and leather variety and in five different colors each. The polyurethane covers are priced at $39 and the leather ones are priced at $69. Apple’s website mentions that the leather covers may eventually lose some of their color and sure enough our red colored cover looked slightly faded. It also picks up scratch marks that remain permanently visible on the surface. A lighter colored version would not have had this problem.

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Apple Insider: MacBook Air internals revealed in tear-down photos

MacBook Air Tear-down Highlights

  • A temperature sensor sits on an external board glued between the CPU and graphics chips.
  • The hard drive sits beneath the USB, micro-DVI, and audio ribbon cables.
  • The Air is the first Intel-based Mac to run on 45 watt Power adapter. THe MacBook uses a 60-watt and the MacBook Pro an 85-watt
  • Earlier MacBook MagSafe power adapters work, but won’t fit when the Air is placed on a flat surface.
  • The Air is held together by approximately 88 screws.
  • 19 screws require removal to reach the battery — 10 to dislodge the bottom case and another 9 securing the battery to the chassis.
  • The entire display assembly weighs only 465 g (slightly more than a pound), 34 percent less than the functionally-equivalent display assembly on the MacBook.
  • The actual LED display panel is less than 3mm thick.
  • A substantial engineering effort went into designing robust Wi-Fi antennas.
  • The speaker board is located beneath the arrow keys on the keyboard.
  • The Air’s RF Module includes a Broadcom 802.11 chip with the markings BCM4321KFBG.
  • The heat sink is made of very thin aluminum and looks totally different from anything we’ve seen in a Mac before.
  • There are 16 Micron RAM chips (eight one-gigabit chips on each side of the logic board) for a total of 2 GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM.
  • The graphics chip is an Intel North Bridge GS965.
  • iFixIt also identified a Silicon Image SIL1392CNU HDMI video chip and Texas Instruments TPS51120 dual current mode synchronous step-down controller (power management).
  • A Broadcom BCM5974 touch screen controller chip on the interconnect board is the same chip you’ll find in the iPhone and iPod Touch.

 

MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt
MacBook Air teardown
MacBook Air teardown photos compliments of iFixIt

MacBook Air: Outperforms Most Windows Netbooks and Ultraportables

https://i2.wp.com/ffog.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/MacBook-Air.jpg

 

We already know the 2010 MacBook Air models significantly improve on the previous generation in overall performance, but how do they stack up against Windows 7 laptops of similar size? Judged solely on performance, they dominate. With Windows 7 running on Apple’s featherweight machines, our test results indicate that the new Airs ran faster than all but one recent netbook or ultraportable from Windows PC vendors.

The PCWorld Labs team used Apple’s Boot Camp application to load Windows 7 on new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models. Then we benchmarked them using our WorldBench 6 test suite and using the games Call of Duty 4 and DiRT 2. The result: For their size, the Airs are hard to beat on raw performance. Their battery life is relatively anemic, however, especially when compared to netbooks. And–no surprise–they carry a significant price premium.

The 11-Inch MacBook Air: Floats Like a Netbook, Stings Like an Ultraportable

First we tested a high-end 11-inch MacBook Air packing a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, 128GB of flash storage and an Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics chipset. We purchased our test unit for $1199, a much higher price than most Windows netbooks fetch. But in light of the size similarities, we compared it with some of the top-scoring Windows netbooks of 2010.

Our WorldBench 6 software runs systems through a timed gantlet of popular consumer applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Mozilla Firefox, compiles the results, and spits out an overall score. The 11-inch Air earned a WorldBench 6 score of 74, very impressive given that the average WorldBench 6 score of the netbooks we’ve tested recently is 45.

Netbook WorldBench 6 Scores

Even more impressive was the 11-inch Air’s performance in our gaming tests: Most netbooks can’t run 3D games like DiRT 2 and Call of Duty 4 at all, but the Air managed to sustain a frame rate of 23 frames per second while running COD4 at 1024 by 768 resolution and high graphic settings; much of the credit probably should go to the Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics card, which comes standard in every Air model.

Unfortunately the Air’s integrated battery performed with far less distinction. The 11-inch Air lasted almost 4 hours before the battery gave out, whereas the average battery life of recent Windows netbooks is 6.5 hours and of course some do a lot better than that. The 10.6-inch Gateway LT2118u netbook, for instance, lasts nearly 11 hours on a single battery charge.

The MacBook Airs cost considerably more than most Windows netbooks. The Gateway LT2118u, for instance, costs just $350–less than a third of what the 11-inch Air we tested costs. And both the $400 Asus Eee PC 1015PED and the $600 HP Mini 5103 lagged only a few points behind the Air in our performance tests, yet both of these 10.1-inch netbooks are priced at less than half what you’d pay for an 11-inch Air.

The 13-Inch MacBook Air: A Competitive Portable Performance Machine

The 13-inch MacBook Air we tested came equipped with a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, 128GB of flash storage and the Nvidia GeForce 320M. We ended up paying $1299 for the machine. The 13-inch Air easily outpaced the original MacBook Air (which we tested in 2008) on our WorldBench 6 tests: 90 to 57. The new 13-inch Air also compares very favorably with contemporary ultraportable laptops, which have an average WorldBench 6 score of 74. In fact, among our top 10 ultraportable laptops only the Asus U33jc outperforms the 13-inch Air, speeding to a mark of 103.

Ultraportable WorldBench 6 Scores

In our gaming tests, the 13-inch Air turned in a solid frame rate of 25 fps while running Call of Duty 4 on high settings at a screen resolution of 1024 by 768. In contrast, the $999 Asus U33jc topped out at 20.4 fps in CoD4 under the same conditions, and the gaming-focused Alienware MX11 ultraportable ($1299) holds the top spot with an average frame rate of 41.8 fps.

PC users are conditioned to accept poor battery life on larger laptops as the price of bigger screens and beefier components, but the 2010 MacBook Air line bucks this trend: The larger 13-inch Air boasts a bigger battery and better power performance than its 11-inch sibling. The 13-inch Air lasted 5 hours on a full charge under laboratory conditions, close to the 5.5 hour average of other ultraportable laptops. In fact the 13-inch Air lasted longer than either the $500 Dell Latitude 13 or the $600 Inspiron M101z while outperforming both by a wide margin.

Such competitive performance makes the new 13-inch Air an excellent choice for anyone seeking a lightweight MacBook to tote in a backpack. Of course, consumers who aren’t married to the Apple aesthetic can secure a machine with comparable performance for a lot less: The slightly more powerful Asus U33jc costs $999, and the slightly less powerful Lenovo ThinkPad Edge runs $799.

If you’re undaunted by the Air’s price tag, don’t ignore some design idiosyncrasies that might get in your way. The Air has neither an optical drive nor an ethernet port, presumably so that Apple could keep their machine as slim and light as possible. An ethernet port is standard on Windows laptops; and though the lack of an optical drive isn’t unusual in a small notebook these days, many ultraportables do have them. Still, if you’re comfortable with working over Wi-Fi and with spending a grand or more on a thin, light notebook, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that outperforms the MacBook Air.


Tablet Wars in India: iPad, Galaxy Tab, Playbook Compared

Apple, Samsung or BlackBerry

With the official announcement of the BlackBerry Playbook, the tablet war has officially begun. While a horde of tablets have been launched ever since Apple came up with its iPad, there are only a few that can claim to have made as much impact as the iPad. These include Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and the just launched, BlackBerry PlayBook (known as “BlackPad” earlier).

Let us take a look at each of these tablets and see how they fare when pitted against each other. We will compare these three tablets on various fronts – so that you can decide for yourselves as to what is the best out there!

Screen Size

If you are the kind who believes in the “the bigger the better” theory, you can completely overlook the Galaxy Tab or the BlackBerry PlayBook and pick the iPad – no comparison required. With a humongous 9.7-inch display that can display stuff at a not so eye popping resolution of 1024*768 pixels no other tablet can boost your ego as much as the iPad. And add to it the fact that it has that cool, half bitten Apple logo at its rear – and you have the single most important reason to buy the iPad. As for the Galaxy Tab and the PlayBook – both have a 7 inch displays with a resolution of 1024*600. While it might be a lot smaller, the images would be considerably sharper because of the smaller size. These two would also be a lot easier to lug around – unlike the iPad.

Hardware
There are two types of gadget freaks – those who buy them for the sheer capability of the device and the others who are just bothered about its ease of use. Most Apple products seem to be the toast of the latter. However, of late, Apple has put itself right up there when it comes to hardware. The iPad is an example of such a product. It has the highly capable Apple A4 Processor apart from 256MB of RAM and a battery rated for 10 hours of usage. This is not bad at all for a product that is almost a year old. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab uses an ARM Cortex A8 processor clocked at 1Ghz. It has double the amount of RAM when compared to the iPad and offers decent multitasking abilities.Its battery life is rated at 7 hours – which is considerably lesser than the iPad. But then, the iPad is bigger and can hold a larger battery. The PlayBook is the most advanced amongst these three tanks to its dual core ARM Cortex A9 processor running at 1Ghz. With a full GB of RAM at your disposal, the user experience should be slick as well.

Operating System

We have three contenders here today – the tried and tested iOS on the iPad, the well known Android on the Galaxy Tab and the relatively (or rather completely) unknown BlackBerry Tablet OS on the PlayBook. The iPad, as you might already know, is for most an enlarged iPhone – and basically runs the same Operating System as the phone – and for the same reason, is undoubtedly the most intuitive and classiest OS you would ever come across on any mobile device. The problem with the iPad is that it’s still on the older version of iOS (which cannot multitask). However, an update scheduled in November is set to fix all that. As for Android, the platform has matured over the years and is currently able to offer an experience comparable to iOS – without doubt. The only underdog here is the new BalckBerry Tablet OS which is yet to see a “hands on” review. It does look quite good on the promotional video that BlackBerry showed us. However, showcasing the same experiencing in real world conditions is something different. The new BlackBerry OS, known as the QNX (pronounced Qinnix), supports full fledged multitasking and is touted to be highly secure and reliable. Thanks to the dual core processor on the PlayBook, the overall user experience, at least on paper, looks promising.

Browsing

One of the primary objectives behind people buying a tablet is the need for a full fledged Internet experience on the tablet. With the exception of the iPad, which has chosen to forgo support for Flash, both the Galaxy Tab and the PlayBook offer support for Flash 10.1. The iPad’s Safari browser, however, supports HTML 5. While Apple fans might claim they do not actually feel the need for Flash to be integrated on the iPad – the fact that most websites on the World Wide Web still use Flash based content cannot be disputed. So, if you are the kind who prefers the “full Internet” on your tablet, the iPad is not your device. But then, let’s not forget that the larger screen on the iPad can deliver a far more engaging Internet experience.

App Store
While the iPad may lose out on portability and hardware, the availability of apps for the platform is one of the biggest reasons the product has been such a roaring success. The iPad has access to Apple’s app store which is arguably the largest application store any tablet on the planet can boast of right now. The Galaxy Tab has access to the Android Market- which, though not as large as the Apple App Store, is still huge. RIM’s PlayBook is the virtual underdog here with far lesser applications that would be available for the tablet whenever it’s launched in 2011.

Other Bits

Some other things that you may be worried about include the availability of a camera. The iPad doesn’t come with a camera at all. The Galaxy Tab, on the other hand, has dual cameras – one for video calling and the other for general photography. The front camera is a 1.3 megapixel unit while a 3 megapixel unit adorns the rear. BlackBerry has upped the Ante when it comes to tablet cameras with the PlayBook boasting of a 5 megapixel camera at the rear. The front camera, however, is a VGA affair. All three devices support 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – with the PlayBook being even 4G ready.

Conclusion
BlackBerry’s PlayBook is a product that would only be launched in early 2011. Until then, Apple has enough time on its hands to deliver the next generation iPad which would obviously be much better than the current iPad (in terms of the hardware). The Galaxy Tab seems the best poised amongst the trio – thanks to its Android origins. What might put off users is its price which, in India, is expected to be around Rs. 40,000. That price, for a device based on an open source OS, is outright criminal. The price of the PlayBook is yet to be revealed – but considering RIM is also targeting the corporate sector with it, we wonder if they would price it nominally. Anyway, lets wait and watch how all this ends up!


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