by April 9, 2013 0 comments

It’s amazing how technology becomes a part of our daily lives so quickly that we end up taking it for granted, as if it always existed, and then start demanding for more. This never quenching thirst for more is what drives the technology industry to introduce ever-better products and technologies. But as they say, that the proof of the pudding lies in eating it.

That’s why this time, we bring you over a 100 product reviews that reflect this innovation and help you in all your tasks, whether you’re working, partying, or relaxing! Incidentally, these products were also nominated for NDTV’s prestigious Gadget Guru Awards, for which PCQuest was the official knowledge partner. We first conducted comprehensive tests on these products so that NDTV’s jury of tech experts could identify the winners.

This time, we’ve carried reviews of most of those products to help you choose the best one for your needs. So you don’t need to scan through zillions of websites to identify the right product to buy. It’s all here, in one single reference guide. We’ve divided the products across around 20 different categories and for various budget points, right from those that would catch the fancy of the uber-rich to those for price sensitive buyers. While you scan through various product reviews that suit your needs, it’s also worthwhile to understand how technology is evolving across various types of products. This is essential in order to get a wholistic view about what sort of technologies are “in”, what’s becoming obsolete, and what’s still evolving and will become hot in the near future. After all, you don’t want to end up buying a product that would become obsolete tomorrow, nor would you want to spend out of your nose for a technology that’s still evolving (unless you have money to blow away of course!), and will soon become much more affordable.

Let’s look at what’s happening Wearable Displays enter the market, but the technology is not quite there yet: Imagine having displays that you can wear just as you wear your specs, only to get a virtual 3D world right in front of your eyes. It’s no longer science fiction. New products like Epson’s Moverio wearable display are gradually turning this into reality. Simply wear the display and get immersed in your own private world of entertainment. Watch movies, play games, surf the web, shop, and much more, all in private. While this technology is available today, it doesn’t work as smoothly as it should, but the way things are moving, it should become widespread soon.

SATA 3.x, USB 3.0, and Micro USB have become common ports on devices: Be careful about the device you’re buying. If it only has lower version ports (SATA 2, USB 2.0, or standard USB), then it’s best to look at other options. SATA 3.x for instance allows hard drives and solid state drives to attain up to 6 Gbps throughput-double of SATA 2. Likewise, USB 3.0 allows up to 5 Gbps throughput against 480 Mbps given by USB 3.0. Likewise, micro-USB ports on devices are becoming very commonplace in most devices, especially for connecting phone chargers. Voice/Gesture recognition is the next big thing: If touch and multi-touch is the ‘in’ thing in most devices today, then voice and gesture recognition will become the default interactive technologies in the near future. Already, you’ll find TVs that can be controlled with hand gestures or voice. There are hybrids and convertible laptops that let you swipe the screen without actually touching it.

In the future, you’ll find 3D webcams mounted on laptops that’ll let you play games without touching the screen. Make way for robots: Yes, robotics is gradually entering our daily lives with companies like Milagrow have introduced robots that can clean your windows, give you a massage, etc. Android in cameras and other devices: Google’s popular Android OS is moving out of the confines of smartphones and tablets and into other devices. Samsung’s Galaxy Camera is based on Android. Amkette’s Evo TV is a box that runs Android, and converts any TV into a smart TV. Likewise, Linux distros are making it possible to build credit card sized computers, like the Raspberry Pi.

Another trend worth noting is that the number of Indian players in the gadgets space has increased considerably. Besides well-known names like HCL, Intex, Reliance, etc, companies like Micromax, Spice, Milagrow, etc are also making a name for themselves by introducing products at compelling price points.

Smartphone Revolution Multi-core wars: If you’ve been in the IT industry long enough, then you’ll remember the MegaHertz and Giga- Hertz wars in desktop CPUs. This later shifted to multi-core wars followed by performance per watt wars. Now, the same thing is happening in smartphones, only faster. In less than two years, the race has shifted from higher speed CPUs to dual and now quad core CPU based smartphones. Greater Memory, Larger Screen Sizes are in: Memory and storage capacity are also increasing, with support for up to 32 GB becoming commonplace. The hardware specs are becoming so powerful that the software on smartphones is trying to play catch-up. Besides CPUs, screen sizes are increasing and touch technology has nearly replaced the keypad. Smartphone vendors have also shifted from regular to micro-and now Nano-SIMs, but the service providers are just not able to keep up with the pace. Today, you might end up waiting for a month before the service provider can give you a nano-SIM. So consumers end up finding other ways of cutting their existing SIMs down to size.

Virtualization to Keep personal and official data separate: Another technology one can look forward to in smartphones is virtualization to load multiple operating systems, or segregate your personal/private and official data. Plus, such powerful specs are also allowing vendors to enable multi-tasking in their products. Vendors adding NFC support, which is pointless if there’s no eco-system to support it: Near-Field Communciation is gradually becoming common in high-end smartphones, but as of now, there’s very limited use for it in India. So unless there’s a change in the eco-system, this technology won’t really pickup.

Wireless charging: This technology has recently made an appearance in smartphones and we sincerely hope it will become commonplace so that users are not always hunting for wall outlets to plug in their chargers. Battery backup still an issue: Speaking of charging, though smartphones are becoming ever more powerful, their batteries aren’t. We don’t think vendors are doing enough to improve battery life. So even the most powerful smartphones require daily charging if you use even some
of their basic features like web browsing or WiFi. Why can’t vendors think out of the box to tackle this problem? Maybe they could embed solar panels in smartphones to eliminate the charging problem forever. If this feature is already there and works beautifully in some wireless keyboards, then why not in smartphones? Vendors, are you listening?

Expect More from Budget Phones: Good news is that smartphones of yesterday are becoming budget phones of today. So you can buy a sub-10K phone (or even sub-5K in some cases) with all the bells and whistles that used to be the pride of more expensive smartphones-like WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, and even multi-touch.

Key Innovations in Cameras: The mega -pixel count in digital cameras has gone up to 50x even in prosumer cameras, and doubled in DSLRs from 12 MP to 24 MP. Moreover, most camera manufacturers are busy outdoing one another in creating full-frame and mirrorless cameras, which is good for buyers as it makes these devices more affordable. WiFi and Bluetooth Enabling Wirefree Access to Audio, Videos, and Photos Across Devices Tired of hooking all those wires before you even think of enjoying your new home theatre system? Or did you wish.

you could stream your favorite movie from your PC all the way to your HD TV without having to extend wires all over the house? Well now you can buy products that allow you to reduce the clutter of wires while connecting different devices. WiFi is no longer constrained to laptops and routers and Bluetooth is no longer limited to wireless headsets, laptops, and phones. Today, vendors are building WiFi and Bluetooth into audio products, printers, cameras, and even media streaming devices. This allows different types of devices to connect to each other without the hassles of creating a clutter of wires or worse still, searching for the right connectors and adapters to connect various devices to one another.

Peripherals, Components and Accessories: Lots of innovative peripherals, components and accessories are coming out that would make your life simpler and more convenient. There are sensors that can convert your non-touch screen into a touch-enabled one. Keyboards are emerging with a touchpad built in, so that you don’t require a separate mouse.  Keyboards are also becoming solar powered, so you don’t need to keep charging them all the time or replacing their batteries.

In graphics cards, the trend of putting two of them side by side is fading with nVidia having introduced a single card with two GPUs, which does the same thing at much lesser power and space consumption inside your machine. Storage technologies are also making waves. Hard drive capacities have shot through the roof with Hitachi introducing HDDs with a whopping 4 TB capacity. Likewise, the cost per GB in SSDs is coming down and making them more affordable, but they’re still nowhere near the HDD price points. But if you still want SSD like performance with your existing HDD, then add a cache SSD such as SANDisk’s ReadyCache along with your existing HDD and enjoy much better performance. Even flash drive and standard microSD card capacities have shot through the ceiling and touched 64 GB.

Computing Devices Get a Makeover Plain vanilla desktops are becoming obsolete and plain vanilla laptops might also follow suit. Fancy AIO desktops are now becoming commonplace and you’ll find some really beautiful products like Lenovo’s IdeaCenter A70 or HP’s Envy 23 TouchSmart. Most AIOs and even laptops now support HD screens and are made of Gorilla Glass to make them more durable and scratch resistant. On the laptop front, hybrids and convertibles are becoming popular allowing users to carry a single device that can work both as a tablet and a laptop as per their convenience. In fact, hybrids with detachable screens have built batteries in both the screen and the keyboard to allow for much greater battery backup. Expect thinner and lighter models to hit the market in the coming months. It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to eat into the tablet market share because even those devices have become cheaper. Today, you can easily buy a decent tablet for less than 10K. Raspberry Pi and similar devices are enabling vendors to build PCs on a flash drive sized stick. This will take computing to a whole new level. Higher Resolutions and Better 3D Experience in TVs and Projectors Vendors are busy trying to make your TV experience more immersive. For instance, there are 3D TVs that will work with passive 3D glasses or no glasses at all. Ultra HD resolution has finally entered in TVs. Though it’s atrociously expensive, but it’s paving the way for the future of TVs.

Even projectors are building 3D capabilities as we saw in an offering from Panasonic. These are some of the innovations taking place to make your life easier whether you’re working, partying, or having fun.

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