10 Trends that will impact your life in 2007

PCQ Bureau
New Update

IT is having such a major impact on our lives that we often end up using its

power without even realizing that we've done so. You buy a cell phone and

later discover that calling and SMSing are two miniscule functions of the

device. The cell phones have been morphed into devices that let you manage your

schedules, run various applications, check email, do web browsing on one side,

and listen to MP3s or FM radio, click photos, and create videos on the other.

Similarly, you acquire a credit card and discover that shopping is just a small

part of its overall features set. You can use the same card for online banking,

withdrawing cash from the ATM, participate in contests, and much more. You buy a

broadband connection and discover that Internet surfing and email are just a

small part of what all you can do on the web with it. You can blog, stream live

audio or video, run applications, or even access your office network from home.

Essentially, what we're seeing is convergence of both online and offline

technologies. This can have its own advantages and setbacks. If you lose your

credit card for instance, then you won't be able to do much more than

shopping. If you lose your phone, then you don't just lose your ability to

call and SMS, but much more. If you lose your Internet connection, then you're

literally cut off from the world.


So security would have a new meaning, and will require technologies that

secure your digital identity. Connectivity will have to be seamless and offer

ample bandwidth to let you enjoy all the services that are available these days.

The web itself will have to change for the better and deliver more than static

web pages. Likewise, there are also other areas that can have a lot of impact on

your personal life. CPUs, Operating Systems, printers, displays, games, graphics

are all undergoing radical changes, which will have tremendous impact on your

lives. In the pages to follow, we've looked at 10 areas and how they'll

impact your life in the coming year. Wish you a happy and prosperous new year

ahead and enjoy the story!



Dual core CPUs became commonplace last year, and quad cores entered towards

the end. So now the obvious question is what next? Quad cores will of course

become more popular this year, but that doesn't mean they will take over from

dual core. Both will co-exist this year, and your choice will really depend upon

how much power you need on your desktop. It also means that the era of

multi-core CPUs has begun at the desktop. The GHz wars are over and you can

expect multi-core wars to begin. AMD at the moment is lagging behind, having

only 2 core processors, but that will change soon. One challenge that remains

now is for developers to write applications that can utilize the power of so

many cores. Currently, there's only a handful of them, but you can expect lots

more this year. Multi-core will give you much more power at the desktop than

what clock speed increases brought you.

Predictions 2007
  • Even entry-level desktops will come with at

    least \two core CPUs
  • Electrical consumption as well as thermal

    output will go down and be better managed
  • Power-hungry applications will finally become

  • The internal architecture of the processors

    will improve to make them more efficient all-round.

Mobile micro wars

On the mobile front, Intel sold off their Xscale processor to a company called
Marvel Technology Group (no they don't publish comics or make chocolates). So,

one wonders what is going to happen on this front. Will they go the Lenovo way

and aggressively put an Xscale chip in every handheld to come? We'll need to

wait and see. And that's not all, Via released the C7-M ULV processor for

ultra-portable devices this year. So, we might be in for power and clock speeds

race in this segment too. We guess we will witness a 'who gets how many'

kind of fight first.


Saving power

Electricity bills have chip makers worried too. And we say this because the new
chips, whether from one brand or another, for desktops, notebooks, or handhelds,

all consume much lesser electrical power while generating some awesome computing


One would think they also generate tons more in thermal heat. But they don't-their

power output is about the same as the old P4s.

This is all good news for Mr. Ozone which can't complain that it got ulcers

because more people bought the latest processors for their computers. Same for

the users on electricity bills front as both AMD and Intel have features in

their multi-core solutions to optimize both CPU and hence power usage. Do you

predict an advent of CPU nannies to babysit the processors of the future? We

surely do.


Where are the apps?

Now that we have real gung-ho power houses of performance aka multi-cores. How
about applications that would truly utilize them to the maximum? Forget

applications, we don't even have an OS other than Vista Ultimate that can

balance loads between cores. There is a lot more to be changed than just the

CPU, and mother board logic to witness the kind of “mega-tasking” and “advanced

digital media boost” performance that AMD and Intel are talking about. We will

see a major change in the way multi-threaded applications are built, once quad

cores are around in fair abundance.


About 10 years ago, you needed add-on cards for just about everything, be it

sound, graphics, networking, etc. Then came motherboards with everything

onboard, which literally took a lot of discrete cards manufacturers out of

business, including many graphics cards manufacturers. They made a come back in

the form of gaming cards. The last two years have been the most exciting, as

they've gone hand in glove with the gaming industry. PC gaming is big business

today, thanks to these graphics cards. In the race to create a greater level of

realism and involvement, games end up pushing the hardware industry, forcing

them to create better and more powerful graphics cards. A better graphics card

then outdoes all the new games and throws the ball in their court. This cycle

continues, and end users reap its benefits. Let's see where this cycle is

taking us in the coming year.

Predictions 2007
  • DirectX 10 on Windows Vista will usher in a new

    era of cinematic realism in gaming
  • Multi-core GPUs expected this year
  • Full power CPUs being grafted on for use as

    GPUs in graphics cards.
  • 600/800 watt SMPS will be the norm in gaming


Multi-core GPUs

As games become more graphics intensive, GPUs have had to become beefier to
crunch all those extra millions of polygons. So if you have the extra cash —

get SLi or CrossFire capable cards, hook them up together on the same board, and

you can revel in the high frame rates and all the anti-aliasing and Anisotropic

filtering you need. So what after Dual GPUs? Well, how about Quad GPUs! Take two

of NVidia's dual-GPU GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics cards and hook them up to an

nForce SLI -Ready motherboard like Gigabyte's GA-8N SLI Quad Royal (for Intel

CPUs) or the MSI A8N Neo4 Platinum (For AMD CPUs). A full list of compatible

motherboards is available at, if you're interested. If you're

wondering by now — where does this end? — you're not alone! However,

rather than cram more and more cards into machines, the trend will lean towards

more powerful, multi-core GPUs instead. By the end of this year, you could buy

yourself a nice Dual-core GPU with 1GB GDDR3 memory to go with your Quad-core


High-definition age

Advanced graphics capabilities can be put to more use than just games. High
definition content can be processed with far greater ease if you have the latest

graphics cards and processor. You'll be able to use the newer video formats

out there such as H.264, WMV-HD & MPEG-2 HD. We'll also soon have movies

available on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, the two new emerging standards. Next year, we'll

see the availability of 3.5-inch Blu-Ray and HD-DVD drives by all the big names.

However, any old PC will not be able to play HD content because it involves

crunching data upto 25 MBps. You'll need at least a 3.0 GHz processor (or

equivalent), at least 1GB RAM, Direct X 9.0, a video card with at least 128MB

memory, 24-bit 98KHz sound and a display capable of 1920 x 1440 pixels.


DirectX 10

This will be available with Windows Vista. This will offer far greater level of
realism than ever before-animated fur, hair and vegetation, realistic clouds,

reflections & water, plus faces so real, you'd swear that they're real.

In short, you'd be hard pressed to tell a game (rendered in real-time) from

the real thing. Microsoft doesn't have any plans of making DirectX 10

available for Windows XP, so you'll have to upgrade to Vista, when it's

launched this year.


From being premium products and services that only some people could afford a

few years ago, cell phones and Internet access have become mass market today. So

much so that it's almost impossible to think that they didn't even exist a

few years ago. Technology wise, both continue to become more powerful in their

own respective domains. Cell phones transformed from being mere devices for

talking and SMSing into full-fledged computing platforms. Internet access moved

from being a static provider of web pages to a full-fledged provider of

e-commerce, Web-based applications and services. Let's look at the key trends

you can expect in each domain this year.



This is definitely something worth watching, as a lot of groundwork has happened
on it. The technology will make wireless broadband a reality. Currently, there's

a need for cost effective broadband connectivity in India, as existing

penetration levels are pretty low. With Intel planning to build WiMAX

capabilities into the laptops itself, the end user costs will reduce to some

extent. WiMAX supports data speeds from 1 to 5 Mbps, and it can be transmitted

over a 20-mile radius. In India Aircel has already launched its WiMAX services

in Chennai and almost all big vendors are gearing up to launch WiMAX services

across the country.

Predictions 2007
  • WiMAX will become a reality, offering wireless

    broadband to consumers. The next step to this, will be Mobile

    WiMAX, but that will take some time to materialize in India.
  • IPTV will gain momentum.
  • 1 Mbps broadband access will be hot.


MTNL has started registration for IPTV services. Other vendors are likely to
follow. IPTV will offer services like Time Shifted TV, Video on Demand and video

calling. Another buzz has been that IPTV will bring interactivity where in you

will be able to participate in live game shows using only your remote.


Yes, the term 'broadband' is nothing new, and it's more of a joke in India
than a serious technology. Despite all claims, the broadband revolution has

still not really happened in India. Just because you have a 24x7 connection to

the Internet and your ISP claims that it gives 256 kbps bandwidth doesn't mean

it's broadband. Most of these connections are shared, so you'll get the

whole bandwidth only if nobody else is using it, which is highly unlikely.

Without bandwidth, all you can use broadband for is Internet browsing, email,

chat, and some downloading. Will this year be any better? If the speech made by

Mr. Dayanidhi Maran, the Union Minister for Communications and Information

Technology, at the inauguration of India Telecom 2006 last year is anything to

go by, then we should see a lot of action in broadband this year. BSNL is

promising to offer bandwidths of up to 1 Mbps, and others are likely to follow.

If it happens, then trends like streaming media (YouTube, Google videos), online

gaming, etc will become a reality. Some vendors have already taken the cue and

are offering DSL connections with bandwidth speeds of 1.0 and 2.0 Mbps.

These are still prohibitively expensive, but as more competing players start
offering the same, bandwidth costs will come down. Of course, what remains to be

seen is the quality of service that they'll provide. Will 1 Mbps actually be 1

Mbps, or will it be lower?

Web 2.0

You might have heard of Web 2.0 and wondered what all the hue and cry was all

about. Before we go on, let's take a moment to define what this is. Web 2.0

was meant to be this rich set of Web-based applications that were to transform

the way we work and use the Internet.

If you think you have been untouched by this experience, think again. Been to
the web-mail interfaces of portals like Yahoo or Rediff (among others)? Been to

Amazon and been amazed at its alternate book suggestions or to eBay and found a

listing of related products alongside the one you were interested in bidding

for? Some sites automatically detect the exact part of the world you are in,

down to the city, and give you content tailored for that city.

Online office applications like document editors, spreadsheets and

calendaring would be familiar to some of you. As you surf the Web, you are

bombarded with ads that are contextual to the page you are on. Then there are

community-driven content websites like YouTube, Flickr, MSN Spaces and so on.

All these are powered by technologies that are behind the buzzword “Web 2.0”.

As you can see, without knowing it, you have been affected already by this


Predictions 2007
  • More websites will harness AJAX to provide

    richer interfaces
  • Number of applications going online will

    increase, next to go online would be online virtual desktops
  • Information will be picked up from your online

    email and calendars to provide more relevant content
  • More extensive profiles online could anger

    privacy advocates

Let's see the progress report for some of these services and applications

to find how much of it has happened, and what kinds of enchancements you can

expect on the way you use the Internet in the coming year.

Custom welcome pages: Portals like Yahoo, MSN and Google let you

customize the way their homepage looks and this would change on a per-account

basis. To be shown this customized page, you would need to sign in to their

portal. Meaning data about what you see is stored at the web server end and

nothing at your desktop except a cookie- if you indicated the site should

remember you automatically without a login.

Contextual suggestions: Shopping/e-store and auction websites like

Amazon, eBay and typically also show you what other users who

looked at the particular item before you saw next, and also what they eventually


These suggestions are created by tracking how long you stay on a particular

page, where you came from, where you went next to (if on the same website), what

links and buttons you clicked, your geographical location and so on. Sometimes,

you notice that your own profile is created behind the scenes without your

knowledge and offered back to you on a subsequent visit.

Portals like Google, Yahoo and MSN let you

to customize their homepage, with news, horoscopes, puzzles, weather, and

more. This is one application of Web 2.0

Online productivity

Do you prefer to use the applications installed on your desktop/notebook or
would you want to boot up, go on the Web, login to a web service and then use

the application? Well, if you are on the move, you might want to consider option

2, if installing the particular application on your system would be a problem.

For instance, if you're away on vacation without your notebook but have access

to the Web (cybercafé), and want to do up your tour expenses, something like

Google Spreadsheets could come in handy. However, neither has broadband

penetration in India reached that level and nor have these applications reached

a level where you can throw away your desktop applications and use the Web-based

ones instead.

So, these are a good thing to have around, but not for everyday rugged use.

However, applications like WebEx and exists on the enterprise

front have made it very big in this area.

Behind the wow

Behind this capability is a pretty ordinary and ancient bunch of technologies.
To track habits or customize pages for you, websites place cookies on your

computer that record what you do and where you go. To give you interfaces like

that of Yahoo or Rediffmail and Google Spreadsheets, Web

masters use AJAX (a combination of Javascript and XML). This refreshes only a
part of the page you are using, in response to one of your actions on it.

Looking up your city is achieved by looking up your IP address in a global or

country-wide database that lists ranges of addresses bought by ISPs in different


What next?

Multi-core desktops are here and so are better Web browsers. Making a Web
application work properly under the scores of Web browsers used to be a big task-now

with more of these browsers turning standards-compliant, this is rapidly

becoming easier to accomplish. Therefore, there will be a lot more action in

this area, with sites adopting Web 2.0 if they haven't already.

Web 3.0

As of now, it cant be called anything more than an idea at stages of infancy
which will take time to materialize. Web 3.0 promises to offer a much stronger

presence of commerce over Web by serving business applications over web. Web 3.0

will bring business applications to the same on-demand architecture that

consumer applications have over Web 2.0. To put it in simpler words, while Web

1.0 was read-only and Web 2.0 is read-write; Web 3.0 might bring in the

read-write-execute nature to the Web.


The world of display technologies has shed a lot of flab. Bulky CRTs have

given way to leaner LCDs. Technology is being continuously refined to produce

images that are closer to reality. Is it bye bye CRT then? Well certainly not in

2007, as we'll still see it around us in some form or the other. But it'll

lose ground to LCD at a much faster rate with LCD based displays become even

more affordable. This year, LCD monitors with 2 ms response time will become

popular. Such quick response time reduces ghosting and lagging of moving

pictures, which has been an inherent problem with LCD monitors otherwise. Many

vendors are positioning such quick response time models for gaming.


Imagine a cardboard thin display screen? Sounds unrealistic? Well, that's one
of the promises of OLEDs. An OLED or Organic Light Emitting Diode display does

not require a backlight to function, unlike LCDs. So, they draw far lesser power

and can operate longer. Such displays hold promise for portable devices such as

PDAs, cell phones, MP3 players and wall-mounted televisions, making them lighter

and smaller. Another cousin to OLEDs is the PLED. Polymeric light emitting

diodes (PLED) are OLEDs created by sandwiching an undoped conjugated polymer

between two electrodes. Are we likely to see something this year? Samsung is

expected to come out with PLED based handsets by the end of this year. LG's

UP3Sharp and Insignia's NS-DA1G MP3 players already have OLED displays.

Philips has also launched PLED technology in its clamshell 639 mobile phone,

comprising a mirror-like display. Together, the Organic Electronics market is

expected to reach $19.7 billion by 2012.

Predictions 2007
  • Even entry-level desktops will come with at

    least \two core CPUs
  • Electrical consumption as well as thermal

    output will go down and be better managed
  • Power-hungry applications will finally become

  • The internal architecture of the processors

    will improve to make them more efficient all-round.

Digital projectors

Front projection CRT-based systems are passé. Digital Light Processing (DLP)
technology, developed by Texas Instruments, and LCD based projectors will have

their own set of consumers due to differing requirements. We can look forward to

cheaper and lighter projectors and projection televisions based on DLP in the

coming year. There is another dynamic video display technology, Liquid crystal

on silicon (LCOS), which is a hybrid between LCD and DLP. LCOS technology is

very high resolution and costlier than LCD or DLP products. Also, LCOS

projectors are not as compact as LCD and DLP units. Due to this, LCOS has not

been adapted for cheaper mass-market portable projectors. However, connoisseurs

seeking elegant home theater solutions can opt for LCOS. JVC has its own version

of LCOS, D-ILA, for use in home theaters. Rival Sony is also giving final

touches to SXRD technology, another variant of LCOS.

Distant future

After so much action on 2D displays, what else can you expect but 3D? The next
technology being touted to replace TFT flat displays is 3D stereo display. Soon

images will not just be flat on the monitor but would seem to float in front or

behind the display. Imagine the extra functionality that everyday applications

will get through added depth. This would truly launch the era of high-def 3D for

movies, games, TV and more.

Personal Storage

The use of personal storage continues to grow all over the world with the

increasing use of personal computers and digital media in daily life. The

emerging trends in tech gadgets, mp3s, cellphones and other portable devices

have accelerated the demand for personal storage and it will continue to grow as

users adapt the new storage technologies at lower costs. Individuals requiring

gigabytes of storage have started becoming a common factor in this age of

broadband. There are numerous inventions in various fields of personal storage.

Let's look at some of the most emerging personal storage technologies that

tend to drive the storage paradigm in a new direction.

Hybrid drive

Hybrid drive is a new type of hard disk technology from Samsung along with
Microsoft participating in the project. The major advantage with hybrid drive

technology especially for notebook computers is its ability to record data even

in an idle state which leads to increased battery life. It also helps speed-up

the boot process, reduce noise and increase reliability.

Predictions 2007
  • Individuals using storage in multiple GBs or

    TBs will be common, so watch out for a lot of Blu-rays, HD-DVDs

    and HVDs .
  • Storing dozens of movies or thousands of MP3

    songs in a single optical disc won't be an issue.

Usually platters of hard drives tend to spin continuously but the hybrid

drive has a built in 1GB non-volatile flash memory chip which records the

incoming data while the platters are at rest. It wakes up when the flash memory

is about to reach its limit, transfers the data from flash memory to hard drive

and again comes back to idle mode.

It spins only 30 — 45 seconds every half an hour, thus, resulting in

increased battery life. Notebook computers equipped with this technology are

planned to be made available in early 2007. Microsoft will call it 'ReadyDrive'

technology starting Windows Vista.

Blu-ray disk

This is a next generation optical disc technology satisfying the demand for high
capacity and performance by offering high definition video and multi-channel

audio qualities as well as high data storage of more than 5 times the capacity

than in traditional DVDs. The research in this area is on, and said to have led

to development of a Quad layer disc with a capacity of 100 GB. Many leading PC

manufacturers have already begun shipping PCs bundled with blu-ray burners in

first quarter of 2007. So grab one if you want to stay in the game.


Holography is a 40-year old technology that has been brought to life as HVD
(Holographic Versatile Disc) by Japan's Optware Corp. This technology is

rapidly gaining importance because of its ability to record and transfer data at

high speeds and high storage capacity. It is

the combination of collinear technology, a patent of Optware Corp, with the
traditional optical technology.

Unlike current optical storage technologies, holographic storage utilizes a

green laser (532 nm), which splits into two beams of red and blue-green laser.

Blue-green laser reads the data while red laser is for reference beam, which

normally remains unchanged throughout the recording process and is used for

reading servo information. Data is recorded where the two beams intersect inside

the recording layer.

HVD technology is a step ahead than next generation BD and HD-DVDs as it can

store and retrieve huge bits of data in a pulse of light. It has a robust and

scratch-proof design for use in rugged environments. Recent researches have

demonstrated HVDs with as large as 3.9 terabytes of storage capacity at a

whopping transfer rate of up to 1 GB per sec. So considering our ever increasing

growth and storage requirements, this technology seems to be headed for victory.

Storage over IP

How could Storage over IP (SoIP) be left behind when everything is going over
Internet Telephony. This is the latest IP-based technology that allows access to

storage area networks through LAN or WAN environments with transfer speeds upto

1 GB. It is considered to be better than fiber channel connectivity as it uses

IETF transport protocols like iSCSI, FCIP and iFCP, which use Ethernet

technology for connectivity resulting in low cost and easy deployment.

Its architecture is based on open standards, which reduces the

interoperability issues between different storage devices or networks.

SoIP is compatible with all existing fiber channel or SCSI devices, HBAs (host
bus adapters), many OSs and storage related applications. So here's one easy

one to understand, use and deploy that is in the race.

Flash memory cards

With increasing use of handheld devices, digital media and other tech gadgets,
there has been a considerable rise in the demand for flash memory cards. These

cards have a non-volatile flash memory, which can be used for digital cameras,

camcorders, palmtops, notebooks, cellphones and similar digital devices. Users

are often confused with different types of flash memory cards available in the

market like SD cards, MicroSD, MMC, Memory stick, XD cards. All these cards have

the same basic functionality but different size, data transfer speed and

compatibility.As the need for storage in tech gadgets is rising, new cards are

being introduced in the market with more storage capacity and even more reduced

size. Toshiba has recently introduced an SDHC card with a storage capacity of 8

GB. Because of its compact size, high re-recordability and easy mobility

features, flash memory cards are gaining rapid importance in today's


Digital Multilayer Disk

Digital Multilayer Disc or DMD (initially named Fluorescent Multilayer Disc) is
an optical disc format technology which uses red laser to read information from

the disk. DMD discs are superior to DVD discs and can hold data up to 140 GB

with more than 10 layers accessed simultaneously. It's also backward

compatible with CD and DVD drives, and unlike CDs and DVDs which use reflective

material for coating, each layer of DMD is coated with non-reflective

transparent material which reduces interference between layers.

DMDs are to be made available Q1 of 2007.

Operating Systems

There's a lot of action

expected this year in Operating Systems, besides the launch of Windows Vista. On
one side, we see desktop Operating Systems becoming increasingly feature rich,

more visually appealing, and stable. On the other hand, we see them disappearing

under applications with the advent of virtual appliances (see In Depth Story,

Applications as appliances, in this issue). On one side, we're going to see

Vista enter the market with lots of skews, and on the other Linux at the desktop

is gaining pace. A third variety is also becoming popular-Mobile Operating

System, thanks to the digital gadgets revolution.

Linux at the desktop

One of the biggest hindrances to Linux at the desktop was ease of use, or the
lack of it. All those cryptic commands and file names were too intimidating for

an ordinary user to dare to try it out. Several vendors introduced their desktop

distributions last year, which were meant to do away with this hindrance.

Several vendors, both commercial and Open Source, introduced Linux distros that

were easier to use and feature rich. Some of these were Novell's SUSE 10.2,

Linspire, Xandros Ubuntu, Fedora, etc. They have features like Synaptic Package

Manager, and CNR, making it very easy to install new software. A lot of popular

games, like Unreal Tournament, are now available for Linux. All this makes

shifting to Linux at the desktop worth a try. Of course, we're not saying that

Linux will swarm the desktops, but it will be more successful than it has been

in the past.

Predictions 2007
  • Linux at the desktop will gain momentum.
  • Vista will take a while to pick up.
  • Desktop Operating Systems will become very

    feature rich.
  • OS Virtualization will become commonplace.

All in ones

Operating System size is constantly on the rise, and you'll see this going up
further in the coming year. That's because Operating Systems vendors are

packing more and more functionality. They ship with all sorts of software, which

includes everything from a movie creating software, web browsers, email clients

to instant messengers, games, etc. Earlier you had to purchase various security

software such as personal firewalls, anti-virus, spyware remover, etc. Now all

that will come pre-built in the OS. This isn't the case with Windows alone.

Most Linux distros for instance, ship with Clam antivirus, AntiVir, IDS

software, firewall and anti-spam, etc. So that good old OS is disappearing and

what you are getting these days is a complete package.

Virtual appliances

This may sound as a joke, since we've been talking about OSs becoming so
feature rich. But if you look at a trend called virtual appliances, you'll

know what we mean. Basically, the idea is to merge the OS with the application

and offer it as a package. So you can get a browser appliance, which you can run

on your desktop and do all the browsing you want without worrying about any

security threats getting in to your system. That's because the browser will

run in a virtualized environment, and will remain completely isolated from the

main system.

Similarly, you could get virtual appliances for other applications as well,

allowing you to create isolated compartments on your system.


Gaming, as an industry, pulls in millions of dollars worldwide. This covers

everything-from hardware to games to accessories or what have you.

Increasingly, this trend has been picking up in India as well. For starters,

online gaming has seen a huge leap-Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing

Games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft and EverQuest II have garnered regular

players in excess of 16 million worldwide. If you think India's far behind,

you should know this - according to San Francisco-based consulting firm Pearl

Research, the Indian online game market will exceed USD 200 million in 2010.

That's a gigantic leap for India, and several things happened last year that

will shape the times to come.

Let's start off with new product launches last year, which were aimed

directly at the power-hungry gaming community. Several new powerful motherboards

were launched, such as the Striker Extreme from ASUS, and new Graphics cards

like Nvidia's GeForce 8 Series and ATi's Radeon X1950 Series. In fact, it

can be comfortably said that last year was the year of gaming cards for India,

with so many graphics cards introduced, giving opportunity to gamers of all

levels a chance to use their prowess. The fierce competition between the two

gaming card giants over the last couple of years has resulted in lots of goodies

for gamers-SLI, CrossFire, dual GPUs, etc. In some cases, a gaming card's

price alone far exceeds that of the entire PC.

Predictions 2007
  • Vista and DirectX 10 take over as the new kings
  • Multi-core CPUs and Multi-core GPUs
  • Full power CPUs being grafted on for use as

    GPUs in graphics cards

Gaming Consoles

Any game talk is incomplete without gaming consoles. Believe it or not, but
India has a dedicated bunch of die-hard console gamers out there too. And they

have good reasons to prefer consoles over PCs. Manufacturers usually spend

millions developing gaming consoles, so much so that the consoles they build are

nothing short of a supercomputer. Sony's new PlayStation 3 for instance, uses

a Cell processor running at 3.2 GHz, which actually has multiple cores, with

each dedicated for some task or another. Its floating-point performance is rated

to be 2 TeraFlops. Likewise, Microsoft's Xbox 360 produces a theoretical 115

gigaflops of performance. No wonder then that the manufacturers actually loose

money when they sell these consoles in the market. Instead, they expect to make

their money from games, quite similar to the way inkjet printer manufacturers

make their money from cartridges.

While Sony's PS 3 has already hit American and Japanese shores, India is

still left wanting. It's set for launch in India in March this year— but I

wouldn't hold my breath. Demand for the console has far outstripped supply —

with the result that early buyers (both independent vendors and individuals) are

making a killing selling the console for a premium. There's not much news

about the Nintendo Wii — and Nintendo has traditionally been really wary of

the Indian market because of high piracy. They'll lose huge sums of money in

licensing fees if the games get pirated. However, we shouldn't be denied the

console because of that either. If they don't get their act together fast,

they'll lose market share and more importantly lose any chance of a foothold

here. Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 is going from strength to strength - with more

games and accessories. By the time the PS3 hits-it will have already had a one

year advantage (Not to mention the sufficiently large price advantage too).

The ASUS Vento 3600 gamers' cabinet

with extreme cooling vents

LAN Gaming

As regards the PC gaming industry, LAN parties are beginning to catch up -organized
get-togethers, where gamers hash it out for prizes sponsored by big names in the

industry. To cater to this craze, we're looking at more vendors/retailers for

shoe-box sized gaming rigs, specifically designed to be carried around. Another

trend we hope to see catch on is the popularization of high-end cabinets. Gamers

don't like to see boring black or white cabinets, so there's a large market

for snazzy designs. We might see more high-end cabinets such as the Asus Vento

and cool offerings from the Cooler Master series. Last year already saw the

availability of water cooling kits. In the coming year, we can expect to see

some vendors selling computers with water cooling pre-fitted. After all, the

benefits of water cooling for high-end PCs are there for all to see (and hear).

These machines will be built for overclocking -as is the current craze.

Finally, we also hope to see cabinets with built-in backlit displays and touch

panels-displaying everything from CPU temperature to fan speed.


If you thought printing today was as simple as plugging in your printer or

multi-function (those that print, scan, fax and copy) and hit CTRL+P, think

again! Most print equipment vendors have been aggressive for sometime to “educate”

their users against using refilled or pirated ink cartridges as well as hiding

printing-related costs behind complicated fine print (like the number of lines a

rating is for, at a particular dot pitch and so on). But this campaign has risen

recently to a fever pitch with the same vendors leveraging technology to make

sure consumers have no choice but comply. Its not that new technologies that

make printing faster, easier or simpler have not come in-they have, in troves.

Here below, we take a tour through some of these technologies that make printing

a page from your computer, well, an interesting experience.

Bigger Print heads

Print speeds (pages per minute output or 'ppm') can rise dramatically if one
of two things happens. One, the page rolls faster below the print head or two,

the print head itself becomes longer. Laser printers have always had their

dye-to-paper interfaces as long as the width of the paper they can print on.

Inkjets have had tiny heads, and vendors have so far been busy increasing the

number of ink jet vents on them in a bid to improve print resolution. HP

recently announced a much wider print head on their future models, called the

Edgeline. This uses two print heads, each covering about half the width of the

paper. Like the lasers, in these printers the head would remain stationary while

the paper still flows underneath.

Predictions 2007
  • Printer purchase costs will go down further,

    but cost of consumables is likely to rise.
  • DRM technologies will come in that won't let

    you use consumables bought from unapproved sources.
  • The number of features built into a printer or

    MFD will plateau and focus will shift towards usability and

    manageability of existing capabilities.

Wastage control

There is a significant amount of ink or toner (over several thousand prints from
a single device) lost every time a head is cleaned or the printer comes out of

sleep mode or goes through a calibration phase. Some printers also periodically

flush a small amount of ink to ensure that no residues are clogging up the

system. Recent printers from various vendors have reduced the amount of wastage

by reducing the number of times such a flush needs to occur. In some, the method

is to never allow the printer to go into deep sleep mode, keeping a small amount

of current flowing and the heat levels hot enough to quickly jump back to active

mode. In other printers, technology used today increases the number of prints

you can take before needing a head clean or calibration operation. In inkjet

printers, the ink is sprayed onto the paper, but in laser devices, the toner is

actually physically transferred onto the medium. This can result in lesser or

more toner being transferred depending on toner composition, heat levels and so

on. Xerox has something called an Emulsion Aggregation High Gloss Toner that

increases the efficiency of toner transfers to nearly 100%. They also have Solid

Ink for inkjet printers, where the ink stays in solid form until needed. During

printing, it is briefly heated enough to liquify it and on contact with the

media, it solidifies.

DRM consumables

In a bid to prevent consumers from taking advantage of lower consumable prices
elsewhere in the world, vendors like HP have been including DRM technologies

that employ a type of region coding (similar to what you have on the DVDs) to

restrict movement of parts between the US and Europe in particular. With this

technology, a printer bought in the US would not work with a cartridge bought in

the UK and vice versa.

In the same vein, you also have self-destruct cartridges that simply stop

working when electronics embedded in them detects the ink tank is empty. This problem however is hilariously exaggerated

in the Canon SELPHY photo printer range, where the ink cassette uses a

transparent film in a way reminiscent of the Dot Matrix of yesteryears. But,

unlike with the DMPs, you cannot roll back the film to reuse it. Instead, when

the film runs out at one end, you need to buy the cassette again... and oh yeah,

along with a pack of the specific paper, only which the printer will print on.

Lasers or inkjets?

At a recent press conference, one vendor made a claim that his inkjets are now
on par or even better than lasers on speed, cost of print and quality. But, how

far along is this true?

While that question is best answered in a pitted battle with laser printers,

what we can examine here is the new technology in that printer that makes some

of this possible.

For one, its paper pickup mechanism has been improved, giving it error free

paper input that lets it pickup more paper, quickly, without paper jams.

Then, the size of the print head has been increased, giving it more coverage,
and with more nozzles on it that also boosts print quality.


Security has gone beyond protecting your PC against threats from the Internet

like worms and hackers, or weeding your mail for spam and malware

attachments. Such basic protection and all products required for it are now
considered to be a given, and a basic necessity. The big mantra in security in

the coming year will be protecting your personal identity, or shall we say

identities? You are no longer immune to identity thefts if you never went

online, because the services you subscribe to have gone online. Let's look at

a few examples.

One to many

Today, your cellular phone is not just a device that lets you make phone calls
or send SMSs. You can access the Web, do shopping and book railway and air

tickets; have astrological profiles, dating profiles and more with this one

device. And the thing that grants you access to all of this is your cellular

phone number. You do not need to have a 'login' account anywhere to have

these profiles associated with you. Similarly, your banking account would let

you pay utility (electricity, telephone, water, etc) bills, perform investments,

pay insurance premiums, manage your savings bank, deposit and credit card

accounts, attached to what is generally known as a 'relationship number'.

Other single credential accounts like Yahoo, MSN and Google open up access to a

whole range of services available through the portal.

Predictions 2007
  • Integration between traditional and online

    services will increase, e.g. a credit card linked to websites
  • Both OS and software we use will include better

    identity management and security measures built-in
  • Seamless ID transfer and authorization across

    more providers will happen (like interoperation between Yahoo

    and MSN)

A flip-side

While technology has opened up a multitude of services that can be used from a
single account, the flip side is that losing access to that account can lock you

out (as a legitimate user) from all those services. For instance, should you

lose your bank's debit card; you would of course cancel the card immediately.

This would invalidate the associated card number and PIN for use online or the

ATM systems. For some banks, this can mean a complete lockout from your banking

services, if it requires data (digits and codes) from those cards to be used as

authorization tokens during transactions. The key thing to keep in mind from all

this is that you'll see more traditional services getting integrating with the

online world in the coming year. You can no longer ignore this trend, as one

mistake can bring your life to a standstill.

Tech for stolen devices

You'll see new technologies emerge to help you find your lost devices (like
notebooks) and protect data on them. Tracking lost notebooks involves GPS

technology. You need to purchase a subscription to the service and insert the

provided smart card into a particular slot in your notebook (not all notebooks

have this slot). After that, if you did misplace or lose your notebook, you call

up a hotline, who will then tell you the location of your notebook within

minutes and within a few meters. TPM (Trusted Platform Module) is another tech

in this direction. A TPM chip is embedded on the motherboard, which encrypts

contents of your hard disk.

Attempts to retrieve the key or modify it will self-destruct the module.

So even if your notebook gets stolen, your data won't be, because it will

remain encrypted.

Adeesh Sharma, Anadi Misra, Anil Chopra, Apurva Kothari, Hitesh Raj Bhagat,

Sujay V Sarma and Swapnil Arora